Full disclosure: A review copy of EXIT: The Mysterious Museum was provided by KOSMOS.
We’re nearing the end, now; only a few more EXIT games to review! At least, until more get announced. Hopefully they’re Gen Con releases. Either way, this has been one of my favorite mini-series to review (since Dominion or my run of the Oink Games [which reminds me, I need to start reviewing Oink Games again]), so thank you for reading them! I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them (even if they are a bit lighter on the photography).
Well, you’ve done it again. You wandered into a museum, the doors shut, and now you’re locked inside. You feel like by this point you’d at least only go to places you’ve already been, just in case you get locked inside, since at least then you already know how to escape. But that’s not important now; you need to get out of here before your puzzling curator returns. Will you be able to exhibit your knowledge of riddles and puzzles to escape?
Well, time to get to the museum. You’ll want to take out the main book, the cards (splitting them into Answers, Hints, and Riddles), and of course take out the disc:
The texture of this one is weird; I briefly thought my co-player had spit or sneezed on it by mistake and was kind of grossed out. My bad. That aside, once you’ve got all the components ready, you’ll probably want a stopwatch and something to take notes on, but get those and you’re ready to roll!
So, as is basically your side hustle, now, you’ve managed to get locked inside an exotic locale. This time, it’s a museum. You’re basically a walking hazard, at this point, but at least you’re good at puzzles.
To get out, you’ll need to take Riddle Cards and use them to generate three-digit codes matching certain symbols. Line those codes up under the symbol on the disc to get an Answer Card. Check it out! It might show that you’ve solved the Riddle and give you some new ones to tide you over. It’ll also probably tell you to advance in the book; like The Sunken Treasure, this one is linear, meaning that you should not turn pages until you’re told to do so.
If you’re getting stuck, that’s okay! Some of the puzzles are hard (or you just kinda get stuck on some; it happens to us on at least one every game). There are Hint Cards to help you out; take advantage of them. Look at the first one matching the symbol of the puzzle you’re on; it’ll tell you what materials you need to actually attempt the puzzle. If you’re not sure what symbol matches your puzzle, then you need to collect more information, as you’re not ready to solve the puzzle yet. The Hints technically will subtract points from your final score, but only if they provide new information. Also, the points don’t really matter.
Solve all the puzzles and you can escape this mysterious museum! That’s … generally the deal, for these kinds of things.
Player Count Differences
This one seemed pretty ideal at two, honestly; I don’t think I’d enjoy playing any of these solo (for the same reason I don’t really enjoy solo Pandemic; having an extra person to check your work really helps!), personally. Since it’s another linear puzzle set, having extra people doesn’t really allow you to parallelize the work in any meaningful way, either, so you run the risk of other player sitting around (or worse, having to take turns on puzzle-solving, which can get plenty dry very quickly). I think I’d most highly recommend it at two players.
- Don’t dismiss a potential solution because it sounds ridiculous. I should really just put that in all the puzzles, to be honest, but this is a game series with a very low penalty for being incorrect (well, except for one of them, but this isn’t that one). If you’re wrong, that’s fine; just keep pushing forward.
- Again, it’s fine to use Hint Cards, especially if you’re checking to make sure you have all the right pieces. They only count against you if they provide new information, and even then, the star rewards are kind of arbitrary and really don’t matter, because, it’s your game. Just play to have fun (or to challenge yourself!). Whatever you prefer.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I like the theme a lot. It may not be for everyone, but I thought it was cute, albeit a bit whimsical. I especially liked the ending, but, that makes a bit more sense once you get to it.
- My least favorite puzzles were in the middle, which is mildly amusing. It means that I have positive initial and final memories of it, which is really bumping the game up in my personal rankings, actually. I suppose that’s kind of the ideal way to do it, also.
- Some of the puzzles are extremely fun. One in particular was definitely the star of the whole game; I had no idea they’d go for it (and it explained something that had been bothering me the whole game) and it was excellent. It was a very inventive puzzle and I’d love to see more like this in future games (which it sounds like hopefully will be coming). In general, we were very pleased with the puzzles in this version.
- One puzzle kind of relies on a certain idiomatic understanding. There are some things that don’t translate super well or rely on some sort of cultural awareness, and I think we were temporarily stumped because we weren’t quite sure if the puzzle required that or not. Our mistake was that we didn’t just try it and see if we were right, because we would have been. Oh well; hopefully you don’t have as much trouble as we did.
- A very linear game. My co-player liked it (and I didn’t love it), but I will at least agree that it made sense to do that with regards to the theme. I think they did a better job with it this time than they did in The Sunken Treasure; I didn’t feel quite as railroaded.
- Ugh, another one of these puzzles. I think there was a similar one in The Sinister Mansion; not that the puzzle was the same, per se, but rather that it required more ability on the players to perform the solve correctly, rather than just being able to reason it out. I generally find these puzzles a bit frustrating because, well, I tend to be kind of bad at them, but also they tend to take up a lot of time for no real logical puzzley reason. We ended up using a Hint Card because we weren’t able to actually get the solution despite having all the pieces and doing it the right way, which is not the funnest feeling.
Overall: 8.5 / 10
Overall, EXIT: The Mysterious Museum is a lot of fun! I’m willing to ding it a bit for having a puzzle that honestly kind of sucked to solve, but, I really enjoyed it nonetheless. It has one of my all-time favorite puzzles in an EXIT game (sharing that distinction with The Pharaoh’s Tomb), and I’d love to see similar puzzles implemented in future games (though they won’t be, because then you’d expect them). The nice thing for me is that seeing those makes me pretty confident that the series still has legs even after 10 (more than that, honestly) entries; they’re really pushing the envelope of what can be done with such a small-box game and they’re pulling it off really well. It’s kind of a gold standard of puzzle box games, and I’d still overwhelmingly recommend the series to anyone interested. The Mysterious Museum isn’t a bad starting point, though it kind of (as museums tend to do) celebrates a bit of the series’s history, so it might be more meaningful once you’ve played a number of them? That’s just my take. Either way, it’s another very solid entry, and I look forward to seeing where the series heads in the future! (Even if I already have some ideas.)