Full disclosure: A review copy of EXIT: The Deserted Lighthouse was provided by KOSMOS.
Alright, we’re back with a new EXIT title! This one, like The Sacred Temple before it, is also a jigsaw puzzle title. I’ve relegated this to “Mini Review” territory since, fundamentally, the games are all played the same way; this cuts down a bit on you reading setup or gameplay instructions. If you’re looking for those, specific to the EXIT jigsaw puzzle games, you can check out The Sacred Temple review. Either way, this is kind of exciting; I’m always hyped to check out a new one of these, so I can’t wait to dive in. Actually, let’s do that now.
In EXIT: The Deserted Lighthouse, you’re trying to get out of the rain and you happen across a … deserted lighthouse. Sometimes it’s just exactly what the box says it is, okay? Unfortunately, the power is out, and you see a ship headed to shore that now can’t see the shoreline. Naturally, crashing your ship into the rocks is kind of a bummer, all things being equal, and you’d prefer that not happen to someone, even someone you barely know, so you resolve that it’s time to get the lighthouse back up and running so that you can save that ship. You’ll need to use all the resources at your disposal, so get your strange disc that’s a consistent hallmark of the EXIT series and set out your jigsaw puzzles! Unlike other EXIT games (save for EXIT: The Sacred Temple [so far]), EXIT: The Deserted Lighthouse doesn’t have Riddle Cards; instead, by assembling jigsaw puzzles and solving other puzzles, you’ll unlock Riddle Documents which will, in turn, help you progress through the various puzzles that compose the game’s narrative. It’s new! Anyways, you don’t have a ton of time to spare, so will you be able to rescue that ship, before it’s too late?
Player Count Differences
There’s a lot to do in EXIT: The Deserted Lighthouse! Honestly, I think having a third person would have helped us here, maybe even a fourth. This is still a very linear puzzle set, but even then, we found that we ended up needing to do a lot (the puzzles are a bit more physical than other EXIT games, I’d say, per capita), so an extra set of hands could have sped up the process. The jigsaw puzzles can always benefit from more folks working on them, as well. That said, it wasn’t a problem to only have two people, either. I with these EXIT + jigsaw puzzle combo games, I’m just kind of generally inclined to increase my Recommended Player Count by one person so you have more help with the puzzles, but that’s just an early take. We’ll see how the next ones go if they continue this series. This is all to say that I didn’t have major preferences on player count, here, beyond my general disinclination to play puzzle games solo. I usually want someone else to bounce ideas off of / check my work, and with only one person that doesn’t always happen.
- Try to isolate which puzzle you’re trying to solve; it’s not always clear. There are a few places in this one where you may not be totally sure what contributes to your puzzle or doesn’t. This is a good time to look at that first Hint for the puzzle, if you’re not sure, as it’ll tell you what components you need to solve it. Also, some of the clues you’re given are often associated with a lock color or will just tell you that it needs more information (or can be used more than once). One hint that I’ve often used is that the clues in the solutions booklet are ordered in the order that the puzzles should be solved, so if I get confused, I’ll look at the back of the booklet (not the clues themselves) to reorient towards what I should be doing next.
- If you’re stuck, remember that Hints only count against you if you get information you didn’t already know. This is the other big thing; as I mentioned, looking at the first hint can help center you, but it won’t count against your score unless it explicitly provided you new information. That can be a good way to check your assumptions or just to make sure you have everything you think you need.
- Don’t disassemble the puzzles until the game is over, even if you move on. I may not have mentioned it in my last review, but I think this is generally a good idea. I am deeply suspicious of the Brands, having done so many EXIT games, now, and I don’t want to run the risk of disassembling a puzzle and then needing to dive back into it because I need to reference an image or check another thing that I forgot to check. That’s just a lot of time that we don’t have, given the timed nature of the game.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Fun theme! It has the right level of urgency (the lighthouse has gone out and you need to prevent a ship getting smashed on the rocks) without being over the top. Plus, I don’t know, I like lighthouses? They’re cool structures. Very single-purpose, perhaps, but they’re fun. I also generally like nautical themes for games; that, I don’t know a ton more about other than just my general vibe.
- The puzzles were pretty varied. I wouldn’t say that they were all that similar to any of the puzzles I recall from other EXIT games, either. The big flagship puzzle was pretty excellent as well (flagship meaning the like, One Big Puzzle That Everyone Will Likely Remember). They’re a bit more challenging than The Sacred Temple, but that’s a lower-difficulty game.
- I’m still loving the whole jigsaw puzzle thing. I just really like assembling jigsaw puzzles, and I think the EXIT series has found a nice way to fold that into its whole thing. I’m going to be really interested to see how I feel about the standard, non-jigsaw games once I get a chance to try a few more of those. It’ll be a nice thing to have a few points of comparison.
- I really like how physical a lot of the puzzles are. This was a very physical EXIT (which might have increased the challenge). A lot more things needed to be picked up, examined, twisted, folded, cut out, and et cetera. I think the jigsaw puzzle assembly, by default, adds a bit of physicality to every one of these, but the puzzles were no slouches, either.
- I learned something! That was fun. It’s nice when they have some educational component. One EXIT game from a while back had a recipe inside! It’s always very pleasant.
- These jigsaw puzzle EXITs are nice, as they give you a pretty logical stopping point if you want to take a break. You can basically take a time-out as soon as you’re told to start on the next puzzle, especially if you’ve got a puzzle saver or something (or you’re fine taking pictures of the previous puzzles, depending on how confident you are that you’re done with them). I think that these EXITs are a bit better about that than the previous, non-jigsaw entries in the series (and for good measure, too, since they generally take twice as long).
- Marking the back of the puzzles remains a solid move, as well. I’m still a big fan of this, even though it’s a relatively simple thing to do. It just makes the game so much easier to take out and put away without issue, since it’s very clear which puzzle pieces go in which bags. It’s the small quality-of-life features that really elevate games, at times, and this is a simple one (and a good one).
- This is definitely one of the more challenging EXITs; be prepared for some tough puzzles. I was also feeling a bit impatient, but, there were some puzzles here that stumped us for a hot minute. This is a step up in difficulty from The Sacred Temple.
- There is an instance of a dotted-line outline on something that doesn’t need cut out, and that threw me off. It’s a small thing, but make sure you look for the scissors icon on EXIT stuff before cutting anything.
- Some aspects of the puzzles are a bit small, and that can occasionally make them hard to see or parse. I think it’s the nature of things being printed in small booklets or on small puzzle pieces, but it can be a bit hard to see some of the icons due to their smaller size. The puzzle pieces are also pretty reflective, so watch your lighting situation, as well; they can catch glare pretty aggressively.
- Be careful with the solutions guide! It’s very easy to accidentally read too much. My one real complaint about these games as a series is that in the original EXIT games, it’s almost impossible to accidentally give yourself too much information because the hints are on cards, which you can always keep face-down. In this, all the hints are in a booklet (likely to cut some costs and keep the price down despite having four jigsaw puzzles in there), which means that an accidental look can spoil some major puzzle elements for players. It might be wise to add a blank page between the end of the rulebook and the end of the solutions book, in future installments.
Overall: 8.5 / 10
Overall, I think EXIT: The Deserted Lighthouse is pretty great! I was pleased, this time around, as the puzzles were a bit more well-lit, making them a lot easier to solve (or, perhaps, now more experienced with these jigsaws, I simply was just moving at a faster clip; who knows). I also think that this particular EXIT brought a lot more to the EXIT series by adding a bunch of new, interesting, and surprisingly physical puzzles. I think the Brands do a generally very good job of thinking both inside and outside the box in terms of what’s available to be used and useful as resources for these puzzles, and this particular game was no exception. I will definitely say that this is on the more challenging end, in my opinion; some of the puzzles had me a bit lost, though, frustratingly, it was more of a “I don’t know how to approach this” than a “I have the information and don’t understand how it fits together” problem, if that makes sense. This may have partially been because I found a lot of the clues and information to be rather small; in my haste, I occasionally missed some things that ended up being important to the puzzle or even critical to the solution, which can cause some problems. That said, The Deserted Lighthouse was also super engaging! I loved the theme quite a bit, the art was pleasant and nautical, and I even learned a new thing, which is pretty fun. I still think of the EXIT series as the go-to titles for at-home escape room enthusiasts (though by the time you read this, I should hopefully be an outside escape room enthusiast), and if you’re looking for a new EXIT to try out or you’re just a fan of the series, I’ve really enjoyed The Deserted Lighthouse!