Full disclosure: A review copy of EXIT: The Cemetery of the Knight was provided by Thames and Kosmos.
It’s a great time of the year, which is saying a lot, given this year, but it is once again EXIT time! We’ve got two new titles, this one and The Enchanted Forest, so we’re gonna go through those, time permitting. We’ve got lots of time, right now, so I’m sure we can figure something out. This is my 16th review of games in the EXIT series, and I’ve been having a blast with these. Got a little group going and we have been trying to test these remotely, where possible. Let’s dig into it and see what’s happening in The Cemetery of the Knight!
In EXIT: The Cemetery of the Knight, you’ve apparently become pretty puzzle-famous, which is nice, and you get letters asking you to solve puzzles, which is probably more annoying than nice. This letter you just got doesn’t have any requests, just an old notebook and something about a mysterious crypt that only opens every 87 years under the light of a full moon. And, extremely conveniently, that’s pretty soon! You’re intrigued and somehow completely unaware that this is probably some sinister thing, so you decide to dive in head-first and see what happens. Will you survive visiting these lost and mysterious tombs? Or will this knight end up being your last?
As always, not a ton. You’ll want to set aside the disc:
Then, separate out the Answer Cards, Riddle Cards, and Hint Cards. There’s other stuff in the box, but don’t necessarily bother with that straight away; the game will tell you when you need it.
Once you’re ready, start the timer and open the notebook! See if you can solve the puzzle!
You’ve got to find the knights’ lost treasure! The only problem is, it’s sealed in a crypt. Your goal is to get in, no matter what the cost. But how?
As with most EXIT games, you’re going to have to solve Riddle Cards. Every time you think you’ve solved a Riddle Card, you’ll usually get a three-digit number and a symbol. Line those numbers below the symbol, and the disc will reveal an Answer Card. If you’re wrong, it’ll tell you, but if you’re possibly right, you’ll be asked where you saw the symbol. Pick the correct one, and you’ll get a second Answer Card that will unlock more to do and more Riddle Cards!
If you get stuck, there are also Hint Cards corresponding to each puzzle that you can look through. Generally, Hint 1 tells you what components you need for the puzzle. Hint 2 tells you more about the puzzle and gives you some hints on how to solve the puzzle proper. And the Solution card? Well, it tells you what the correct answer is. Generally, when you use Hint Cards, you lose stars at the end of the game if the Hint Card gives you new information, but also, the points don’t matter, so, have fun.
If you can successfully solve the mystery of the knights’ crypt, you’ll get through the puzzles and see the final Answer Card! What were these knights guarding?
Player Count Differences
I generally think this one works best at the lower end of the player count spectrum, personally. Without getting too spoiler-heavy, this one is fairly linear, so there’s not a ton for four distinct people to do during the game. That’s how it goes for some of the non-linear ones. It happens. I think our play experience was a bit inhibited by various online issues, since, the game didn’t super work online? A lot of puzzles really required you to physically have the components in the right place. It happens. Even then, though, I couldn’t see this being the most effective at four. Three probably works fine, but I imagine this is fantastic at two. There’s a lot of good opportunity for back-and-forth and for one person to deal with the components and the other to take notes and things like that. I just think that with four, it’s likely a too-many-cooks situation. Yeah, strongest recommendation for two-three players. At one, I just end up sitting and staring at a puzzle for too long; having someone else to bounce ideas off of helps me a lot.
- Take note of the things you’ve already used. I think this is one of my major failings when it comes to the EXIT games; I usually don’t set things aside when I think I’m done with them. If you do yourself one better and set them in piles based on what puzzle they’re from, then even if you’re wrong you can … figure it out? Either way, generally there aren’t too many items that get used across puzzles, so, you don’t have to waste too much time on the same components across multiple puzzles.
- If you’re stuck, don’t be afraid to check the Hint Cards. This is something that used to trip me up when I was first getting started with the EXIT series, to be honest. We would just … hold out and hope that we could eventually figure our way through it. The points don’t really … matter in the traditional sense, so just get a hint if you need one! Plus, it doesn’t count if you use a Hint Card that doesn’t give you any new information.
- You may not have everything you need to solve the problem that you can currently see. If that’s the case, try a different one. Also a common problem for the EXIT games! Sometimes you get pieces of puzzles ahead of when you actually need to use them, so, if things aren’t clicking, either check the first Hint Card to get an inventory, or wait until you think you have all the pieces in place to move forward with the puzzle.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I like the theme a lot! Full disclosure of a somewhat-embarrassing fact (y’all won’t tell anyone, right?): when I was much younger, I was overwhelmingly into Templar novels. I read The Da Vinci Code and, given that I was like, 14, I was agog with the idea that ancient conspiracies could be hidden in tombs and churches and only connected by someone who I would later decide did, in fact, look exactly like Tom Hanks. So the idea of going into a knights’ cemetery is very appealing to younger me, especially given what we found. I’d tell you, but I promised no spoilers. Let’s just say it’s interesting.
- I really liked the different puzzles in this one! There was a solid variety, from rotational to spatial to just plain “Inka & Marcus Brand Have Successfully Clowned You Again”, which, begrudgingly, is my favorite kind of puzzle. I can’t remember who said this to me but there’s always a delicate balance to strike when designing between something that is the designer saying “look, I am very smart” and the designer helping the player say “look, I am very smart”. I think, generally, the reason the EXIT games shine as a series is that they are almost 99% the latter case and they always have one puzzle that is the designer(s) saying “look, I am very smart”. And they’ve earned that. They always earn it. And I have to respect it.
- I am consistently impressed by the continued success of the format. I think I demurred a bit in my last review as to whether or not the EXIT games were getting too wrapped up in their own mythology, and worried that that was causing them to eventually become inaccessible. Thankfully, really pleased to say that from what I’ve seen, that doesn’t seem to be the case. This is every bit as welcoming as some of the first ones I’ve played. I think it might just be that the mystery-themed ones are better served by playing the other EXITs first. Even for a storied veteran (I hope) at this point, I still was pleasantly surprised by some of the puzzle choices and the game felt very fresh, to me. Who knew there were so many ways to try and output combinations of three numbers? I certainly did not.
- I was a bit amused by one of the messages. Usually the game isn’t so explicit as to tell you not to touch something, but this time I suppose they had to so that they could ward off potential sequence-breaking? I think it would be tough but one could do it, if they were so inclined. I’d say what, but again, trying to avoid spoilers, and you’ll see what I mean pretty quickly once you get into the game.
- A few puzzles dealt with surprisingly small-print clues? Just an odd choice; usually it’s fairly obvious what the clues are supposed to be, and I just found it strange that a few of them were so small as to be difficult to read, this time around.
- Really can’t be played online. This was kind of an unfortunate thing to realize during our much-hyped “Let’s Play An EXIT Game Night”, but, this one just fell extremely flat remotely. I think part of it was the linearity of it; there were never two puzzles to solve, and often it just makes sense to defer to the person who doesn’t have to see the puzzles through a picture and scroll back to previous photos when they need context. That would be fine, but a number of puzzles also required physical manipulation of components, which is basically impossible to do remotely without your own copy of the game. Another fair few relied on noticing small hints in images that I couldn’t really send at a high enough resolution for that to work for my non-local friends. I think this would work fine if you were playing with another person who had their own copy of The Cemetery of the Knight, but if you only have the one, I’d highly recommend not bothering trying to play this one online. It’s not really anything that would make me say “this is a bad EXIT title”, though. I actually had a ton of fun with it; my online co-players just noted that they didn’t ever really feel like they could engage with a lot of the puzzles, which was a huge bummer for them.
Overall: 8.5 / 10
Overall, I had a really great time with The Cemetery of the Knight! I’ll reiterate that I had fun with this one, as, unfortunately, haven’t really been impressed by this game’s ability to be played remotely. My EXIT group just kind of watched while I solved it. Fun for me, maybe less so, for them? I think that’s an unfortunate consequence of this having some really neat and innovative puzzles. They just … kind of need you to be able to physically handle the components, which, you can’t do remotely. I was thrown off by how small some of the print for some of the solutions was, too, but that’s mostly just me whining a bit because small-print stuff is hard to read. Beyond that, I think this title had a lot going for it! I really liked the theme and the physicality of a lot of the puzzles, and I think that while the puzzles challenged the EXIT formula, at times, they were still fairly novel to the point where I think you could start the EXIT series with titles like these. As I mentioned in my Theft on the Mississippi review, I was a bit worried that the EXIT series was starting to snarl around itself a bit and would eventually become a bit too complex for new players to start with the latest games, but I think this very resoundingly proves that there’s nothing to worry about right now. I still wouldn’t recommend starting with this one (mostly because it, lore-wise, refers to you having completed a bunch of puzzles already), but I think a new player could pick this one up without many problems. Experienced players are still going to enjoy this one. The difficulty is in a good place and the puzzles are interesting, in my opinion. Another solid title for the EXIT series, for sure, and if you’re looking for a fun puzzle time and your players are all in the same place, I had a lot of fun with The Cemetery of the Knight!