#622 – EXIT: The Stormy Flight [Spoiler-Free]

Box

Base price: $15.
1 – 4 players.
Play time: 45 – 120 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas

Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 1 (I don’t know why I put this here for these; it’s only ever once.) 

Full disclosure: A review copy of EXIT: The Stormy Flight was provided by KOSMOS.

The best part about a new year is that a lot of beloved game series get new entries. Animal Crossing, probably a Dominion expansion, and, of course, the EXIT series. The worst part of the new year is that I’ve been asked by my employer (along with a lot of other folks) to work from home, and I’ve already got cabin fever and this post isn’t going to publish for at least two weeks. Let’s see how I’m feeling, then. But rather than dig into that, let’s talk about EXIT: The Stormy Flight!

In EXIT: The Stormy Flight, you’ve experienced an unexpected change in cabin pressure. The kind where the cockpit locks up, the ventilation system shuts off, and the radio goes kaput. Not super good if you’re on the ground, but unfortunately, you’re in the air, since you work for the airline. Your goal is to help the pilot land the plane, but the pilots are a bit occupied that, so they won’t be able to help you. Your job is to crack the complex puzzles, riddles, and circuits required to open some doors, restore some critical systems, and ultimately get these passengers on the ground safely. Don’t forget to obey posted placards and crewmember instructions, though. You’re now free to move about the cabin, but will you be able to get this plane back on the ground?

Contents

Setup

Not much to set up, as usual. Set out the Hint, Answer, and Riddle Cards. It must be a first edition issue, or something, but it looks like they had a production error with Answer Card 20, so just slide that one into the deck and then, yeah, you’re good to go. You’ll find the standard decoder disc:

Disc

And yeah, that’s it! Once you’re ready, start into the logbook!

Gameplay

Alright, so, good news and bad news. The good news is, I hope you like puzzles because the plane’s losing altitude and the only way to get critical systems back online is to solve puzzles and riddles. Incidentally, that’s also the bad news.

As with many EXIT games, you’ll get Riddle Cards that will prompt you to go through some puzzling paces to ultimately arrive at four things: three digits and a symbol. Use the decoder disc to line those numbers in the correct order (I suppose the correct ordering is a fifth thing) under the symbol and that should provide you with a number corresponding to an Answer Card. Flip the Answer Card; it will likely point you to another Answer Card, based on what you’re trying to unlock. If you reveal that one and it’s correct, you can advance! Otherwise, back to the drawing board.

If you’re not sure how to progress, look at the symbol for your puzzle and consult the Hint Cards with that symbol on them. They’ll give you an initial hint (usually telling you what you need), a more specific hint (usually pushing you in the right direction for the puzzle), and ultimately, the solution, should you choose to go that route. No shame in using Hint Cards! They’re pretty helpful.

You’re gonna need to fix the ventilation system, get into the cockpit, restore the radio, and land the plane if you want to survive, this time. As you advance, you’ll also unlock “strange objects” that might help you, if you know how to use them. Crack puzzles, solve riddles, and land the plane!

Player Count Differences

I, weirdly, think this one could probably be played solo without much trouble. It’s linear, in the sense that there are no branching puzzle paths. There’s always just one puzzle. Additionally, the puzzles are never too broad in scope; you could likely get away with just one person on them. Naturally, my puzzle friend and I are whatever the escape room game equivalent of codependent is, so we always play these at least together, but there were a number of times I noticed that I wasn’t doing anything or she wasn’t doing anything and I haven’t noticed that as much in previous EXIT games (or other escape room games I’ve played). It may take you a spot longer, but yeah, you could probably do this one solo. I’m not as keen on it at 3+, however; I feel like there’s only so much you can do with the material you’ve been given, and you can’t really replicate it well enough that everyone has something that they can do at all times. That’s kind of how some of these ones go, though.

Strategy

  • Look closely. Is everything what it looks like? Don’t take things for granted with the EXIT series; as the series goes on, they need to get trickier. And wow, do they get tricky, this time.
  • You’re going to need to figure out what to do with a few things. Not everything comes with explicit instructions. Or any instructions. Just do your best and you’ll come up with something.
  • Again, don’t sit on Hints forever. If you’re anything like us, this might be the one that gets you to use a couple. If you end up sitting for too long, you’ll waste time and still get a lower rating at the end of the game. Better to take a slight penalty than a major one, in my opinion. Plus, there’s very little to be gained just looking at a riddle when you’re stuck and hoping the puzzle solves itself. That only works, like, one time.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • It’s been a minute since I’ve gotten to play an EXIT game. I still really like the amount of game you get in the box. I think it’s been almost six months, but yeah, these are great little compact experiences! A few people, an hour, some puzzles; it’s almost exactly the right size and pace for a light evening or something fun to do after work. Don’t get me wrong; I also enjoy the more intense ones (I’m playing through The Emerald Flame, from PostCurious right now, and it slaps), but it’s hard to get into those after a work day all the time. With an EXIT game, I really can just block out an hour or two and play it. We literally started it, ordered dinner, paused it, ate dinner, and then picked it back up. They’re just a good size and weight of puzzle.
  • This one was a lot more component-based than a number of the other ones I’ve played. There was so much to punch out and mess with! I’m always a fan of those types of puzzles and this EXIT game really nailed the tactile experience; it’s more than, I think, a lot of the EXIT games I’ve played previously. And the tactile experience is one of the most memorable parts! If you were going to optimize, I’d say they’re doing a good job.
  • really liked how thematic all the puzzles were. They’re all plane-themed! That’s cute. I do wonder how they develop these; do they start with a theme and see what puzzles jump out at them? Do they start with puzzles and see if they can group enough to become a theme? Or do they make puzzles and themes independently and see what they can move where? It seems like an interesting process to know more about.
  • Some of the puzzles were also delightfully clever. I remember distinctly saying “oh, that’s really cool” several times when the puzzle clicked for us. It’s definitely not the same feeling as turning a massive lever in an escape room, but, also, the escape rooms in the Bay Area are $50+ per person. You’re gonna have to make some compromises.
  • It’s also, what, the 11th+ EXIT game? I’m impressed that they all manage to still feel pretty novel. Sure, at a certain point, you become overwhelmingly paranoid that they’ll hide a spider inside of the game box and you’ll fall out of your chair because you weren’t expecting it and you don’t like spiders very much but honestly it’s a legs thing they just have too many legs, but. That didn’t happen. In this one. So, it’s nice that they keep finding ways to innovate on their existing formula, and I think that that’s continued to be a strength of the EXIT series. They’re not all my favorite game of all time, but I’ve consistently enjoyed them, and that’s good for a series of more than 10 titles.

Mehs

  • Honestly, it was a bit confusing why you were on a plane and the failing controls could only be fixed by solving puzzles and riddles. It’s just one of those “why would someone design a plane this way” sort of things. In The Polar Station, they at least explained it, but, while it seems like it would be hard to explain, here, you could have just said you all worked for United. That seems relatively on-brand, for them.
  • My overarching issue with the linear EXIT games (in which you can only solve one puzzle at a time) is that there’s not often a lot to do for more than one player. You sort of take turns providing moral support, which is nice, but especially for a more tactile game like this one, you really want to just have your hands on all the components. It’s fun to try and solve the puzzle that way! Learning to share is important, but it is, functionally, also kind of a bummer.

Cons

  • In general, I would have liked a bit more scaffolding around instructions. I think there were a number of times we were presented with just … a bunch of components, and no real guidance around what we were even supposed to do with them, which was a little confusing. Even something as simple as “you’ll need to connect X and Y” or “you need to figure out how to put A B and C back together” might have helped.
  • A few of the puzzles didn’t land as well, for us. It may have been a combination of them being a bit too subtle, them requiring us to do things with components that were difficult / nonobvious / unexpected, or just some wording choices that I disagree with, but there were a number of puzzles in this one that I didn’t love. Thankfully, there were plenty of excellent puzzles here, so it balances back towards the better end, in my opinion.

Overall: 7 / 10

Ultimately, I enjoyed EXIT: The Stormy Flight, but it wasn’t quite my favorite entry in the series. I think there are a lot of things I did like about it, though. I really enjoyed the thematic conceit of a lot of the puzzles individually, which is a bit funny because I actually took issue with the way that the theme overall fit together. It’s weird to me that you are airline employees who must use your wits and clues to fix a plane that ostensibly belongs to the airline you work for. I understand that airlines are generally run by monsters, but, even this seems a bit extreme. That and a few puzzles being rare misses meant that this was a slightly-below-average EXIT experience, for me. Well, average of the EXIT experiences I’ve had so far, so it’s still pretty good. There were a number of particularly good puzzles in this one, and a couple of groaners, which I appreciate. There always needs to be one puzzle that I angrily decide I’m going to email someone about. Expect an email. I especially liked how many of them relied on novel tactile elements, but, I’m a sucker for that sort of thing. Generally, though, I’m a huge fan of the EXIT series, so this one is fun, yes, but there are also several that I’d rather play again, if I were given the option. If you want to solve some riddles at 30,000 feet (or, if you think you can play this one on a plane [NOT RECOMMENDED]), check out EXIT: The Stormy Flight! I think there are some puzzles in there that you’ll really enjoy.


If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

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