Exit: The Game Advent Calendar – The Mystery of the Ice Cave
- Designers: Inka and Markus Brand
- Publisher: Kosmos
- Players: 1+
- Time: 5-10 min/day x 24 days
- Played with review copy provided by Thames and Kosmos
Advent calendars are a well-entrenched tradition in Germany. Each October when I head to Essen for SPIEL, the stores are already jammed packed with Advent calendars of all types. The first printed Advent calendar originated in Germany in the early 20th century with Gerhard Lang. When Gerhard was a little boy his mother made him a calendar with 24 small candies attached to cardboard, one for each day before Christmas. Lang grew up to operate the Reichhold & Lang printing company where he printed the first Advent cardboard calendar with 24 little pictures. A few years later, the company printed the first calendar with the little doors that everyone loves to open. The first chocolate Advent calendar appeared in 1958, but it was in 1971 that Cadbury joined the race and launched its own version in the UK. Cadbury produced Advent calendars intermittently from 1972 to 1986, but it wasn’t until 1993 that they finally became a mainstay.
Admittedly, I’m most familiar with the chocolate types as a child, but as I have grown up, I have also found calendars that provide a craft beer per day or perhaps a dram of whiskey? In any event, you can make an advent calendar out of just about anything, so long as it can hide behind a paper door… So, the geniuses at Kosmos figured out that maybe they could hide a puzzle a day in a calendar? This calendar came out in German last year, but it wasn’t translated in time to make it in English (or at least I couldn’t find it last December). Blissfully, it has been translated and is already available on the market. In fact, they also managed to translate and produce the second Exit advent calendar – so people in the EN market have two to choose from!
The story behind this treat: “Your pre-Christmas ski trip definitely hasn’t gone as planned: Just as you are taking a break and enjoying the crystal-clear mountain air, you hear a noise and see a terrifying avalanche crashing down the mountain towards you. Your heart is in your throat, you hastily grab your seven things and race down the slope. With the last of your strength, you throw yourself into a crevice in the rock as everything behind you is buried in snow. Your heart races and you pull yourself together. You can hardly believe it, but you are alive! Only then do you take a look around: is this some kind of cave?”
Each EXIT Advent Calendar is an EXIT game and a 24-day-long adventure in one. Each door in the calendar reveals a unique room containing an exciting new riddle. Solve one day’s riddle to determine which door to open the next day. These games are completely card-based and unplugged. They include a decoder board, story (riddle) book, and riddle cards. There is also a helpful hint booklet that will help you along if you happen to get stuck.
This advent calendar is both an EXIT game and adventure story: in order to free yourself from this predicament, you must open a door of the calendar each day. Behind each door you will find a new and exciting riddle, the solution to which will bring you closer and closer to escaping the cave!
The puzzles are fairly quick, taking us as little as 20 seconds thus far to upwards of 10 minutes. Like many of the other puzzles in the EXIT series, sometimes you simply see the answer quickly while others require a fair amount of brain power. We currently have three people living here at my place, and we’ve made it a nice little tradition to open the door after our nightly meal, and we see if we can solve it together. Overall the puzzles are on the easier side, but this is in line with the 2 out of 5 difficult rating found on the front box cover.
Like the regular EXIT games, the decoder strips help you determine if you have the right answer, and when you get the right answer, the symbols on the decoder will direct you to the next door to open. Though we haven’t finished the entire calendar yet – it has definitely been enjoyable, and we’re saving the other EXIT Advent calendar (The Hunt for the Golden Book) to do for real starting on December 1 this year.
I would highly recommend this for puzzlers or families who like to work together. It has been a great experience so far, and one that I think would be an enjoyable daily experience during the holidays.
Affiliate links for the advent calendars:
The Ice Cave – https://amzn.to/3D1cf7Q
The Golden Book – https://amzn.to/3CZPyRK
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor