#638 – EXIT: Theft on the Mississippi [Spoiler-Free]

Box

Base price: $15.
1+ players.
Play time: 1 – 3 hours.
BGG | Board Game Atlas

Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 1 

Full disclosure: A review copy of EXIT: Theft on the Mississippi was provided by KOSMOS.

Alright, I’d normally be super stoked about another EXIT title, but, since we’re still locked down as of writing, it’s going to be tough to get the group hyped about this one. I’m still personally hyped, but it’s unclear how this is going to work. We’re going to try playing this EXIT game remotely! I have a coplayer that I’ve played the entire EXIT series with, and, I can’t just not play with her because of a pandemic. We’ll do our best to make it work and then report back. Onto the game, though!

In EXIT: Theft on the Mississippi, there’s been a heist! On a boat! On the river! Someone’s stolen some critical documents, and thankfully you have a whole host of people on the ship who are master investigators. Very convenient. We love that. Maybe it’s mandated? Who knows. Anyways, you’re the investigators and you’re on the case. Can you figure out who committed this crime and recover the documents before it’s too late?

Contents

Setup

Not much to do, as always — basically grab your disc:

Disc

Normally, I’d say set out your cards, but maybe read the instructions before you start?

Gameplay

Standard EXIT fare, but with a mystery twist! This plays a bit like EXIT: Dead Man on the Orient Express, in that you’re going to have to put your puzzle-solving skills to the test, yes, but you’re also going to have to solve a mystery! Unfortunately, a crime has occurred on this boat, so, it’s up to you to solve it!

As with other EXIT games, you’ll be presented with Riddles via Riddle Cards and the booklet. Solve the riddles to get a three-digit code (or colors!) and enter them in on the provided disc. If you’re correct, follow the directions on the Answer Card to verify and then see if you’re right!

If you get stuck, consult a Hint Card to see what you should do! Each Hint Card set is matched up with one of the puzzles you have to solve. The first one provides setup hints, the second provides puzzle hints, and the third one provides the solution!

Work to solve all the riddles before the thief can get away! Sleuth it or lose it, as the old saying goes.

Player Count Differences

From my perspective there were very few player differences because I was in control of the whole thing (we’re on lockdown, still, so can’t really have people over for an EXIT Game), but between taking pictures of all the components and sending them to a group chat and having a multi-camera setup for the actual game (wide-angle shot for the big puzzles, close-up for Unsolved Riddle Cards; it worked), it wasn’t too bad. I felt like it might have been better if everyone had their own copy, but beyond that I felt like having multiple people chiming in on things was generally helpful. The puzzles were fairly linear in nature so players couldn’t veer off too far (as they can in other EXIT titles), which I think made the whole thing feel more cohesive over video chat. Either way, I’m not terribly bothered by this one at any player count, but I’m glad I didn’t play it solo; I would have gotten stuck.

Strategy

  • As with all mysteries, it’s a good idea to keep track of clues and suspects. It’s got all the elements of a classic “who has done this”. Characters, a crime, and a mystery! If you want to solve it well, you may want to keep track of the information various suspects are giving you.
  • If you’re stuck, look for a hint. I’m generally pro-hints and have stated as much in the past pretty consistently. If you’re not making progress, it might be time to ask for some help, or at least look at the card that tells you what elements you need to start solving the puzzle.
  • Don’t try to brute-force it; you may not be solving the problem the right way. As I mentioned, you may not even have all of the right components. This means if you’re trying to come up with potential interpretations that give you three numbers, you should stop and think about whether or not you have enough information to solve the task at hand.
  • Read the clues that characters give you carefully. The characters are potential witnesses to the crime. They may provide you with information that will help you solve puzzles down the line. Don’t just make wild assumptions; make sure that you’re solving the riddles based on the information you know.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • Loved the theme. A riverboat! A heist! The dream. Also a lot of old-timey mustaches, which are always appreciated. And unlike a lot of games set in the Boring Past, they opted for a diverse cast of characters, which I truly appreciate. Always a bonus.
  • It’s another EXIT Mystery! I really wanted another one of these after Dead Man! That was one of my favorites! And this was also very good! I’m really hoping for a whole series of these, eventually. They’re a fun spin on the riddle stuff with a solid enough narrative to keep me consistently interested.
  • Regardless of the mystery, the narrative aspects were also pretty fun. This wasn’t the same general mystery as Dead Man on the Orient Express, and I felt like it was enjoyable in its own right.
  • Some very fun puzzles in this one. There were a few I thought were extremely good, which is nice when that happens in an EXIT. One of them I thought was just straight-up excellent.
  • As always, lots to do. Small box, lots of game, which I appreciate from the series as a whole.

Mehs

  • EXIT games are tough remotely! We tried to play this one over video chat and woof, it did not totally work with only one copy. I think it would be easier with more copies? Other players would have access to other parts of the puzzle rather than me just sending photos with basically no context. Not sure! I’d love to see what the EXIT crew could come up with if they made an EXIT game that was intended to be played over a video call, though.
  • One of my co-players brought up the idea of institutional memory and how this might be a much more difficult EXIT puzzle to start off with if you’re new to the series, and I’m inclined to agree. I think there are a number of puzzles in here which are great and surprising and novel for veterans, but they would probably throw a new player off pretty badly. Maybe not start with this one? Though I feel like I’d say the same thing about Dead Man on the Orient Express, so it might just be these EXIT Mysteries.

Cons

  • One puzzle threw a kind of unfortunate red herring out there, which was kind of frustrating. I think it was just a quirk of the letters they chose, but given that it didn’t seem to impact anything, I think we were a bit frustrated? They made us look for something that wasn’t the solution or anything close to it, and it didn’t really need to be that way, I feel.
  • I must have missed it in the rules, but I wish the rules were very, very straightforward about what you could and could not use / pick up.  We were a bit confused at the very beginning about which tokens we could and couldn’t use, and some of the “mystery items” weren’t especially clear in the descriptions (and are kind of small). All in all, it took us a minute to figure it out and that was surprising given how many EXITs we’ve played.

Overall: 9 / 10

Overall, I thought EXIT: Theft on the Mississippi was a blast, right up through the end! Really enjoyed the whole thing. I think, generally, I like the idea of solving mysteries and crimes, so having the convergence of that with the puzzle / escape room-goodness of the EXIT series really works. I still think that this should just be its own separate line as you play investigators solving famous crimes and heists throughout the ages. You’re basically like Robert Langdon, except you have a real job, investigating crimes. Beyond that it’s basically the same thing. The old-timey theme was nice, and I appreciated that they still had a diverse cast of characters for the setting; made the game feel more vibrant, to me. As for the puzzles themselves, there was your classic mix of solid EXIT fare and one puzzle I found immensely frustrating and ultimately solved, except unlike most times I had to solve a chunk of it solo because again, my coplayers were videoconferencing into the session. Would I say that EXIT works as a remote game? It’s not perfect, but it’s not that bad, once we ironed out the kinks. I think videoconferencing doesn’t support a high-enough bandwidth, currently, to make it super viable unless everyone has their own copy. Thankfully, everyone having their own copy is actually feasible, so I’d recommend going that route. Beyond that, though, if you’re into riverboats, heists, or puzzles, I’d recommend checking EXIT: Theft on the Mississippi out! I really enjoyed playing it.


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