#766 – EXIT: The Gate Between Worlds [Spoiler-Free]

Base price: $15.
1+ players.
Play time: 1 – 2 hours.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 1, as always. 

Full disclosure: A review copy of EXIT: The Gate Between Worlds was provided by KOSMOS.

Another EXIT game! I’m always excited to get more of these in, and I think this year is supposedly going to be a very busy year for the EXIT series (this is the third one I’ve played in 2021!), so, getting hyped for that. I just finished up my run on the EXIT jigsaw titles, so, those are up on the site if you want to read those. This is going to be a return to more classic EXITs, if that’s your thing. Y’all know I really enjoy escape room games, so let’s see what’s going on in The Gate Between Worlds!

In EXIT: The Gate Between Worlds, your exploration of some dusty old cemetery revealed a map to a gate that promised to show you the universe! Unfortunately, it seems to have fulfilled its end of the deal a bit quicker than you expected, as you’re now lost in the infinite and need to figure out how to return home. New worlds of puzzles and challenges await you on your journey, so gather your wits and try to figure out how to get back! The only question is, will the world you return to be the same as the one you left behind?

Contents

Setup

Pretty much none! Lay out the Riddle … Card, the Answer Cards, and the Help Cards, and the … disc? Weird.

Grab a pair of scissors, something to write with and on, and you should be ready to start!

Gameplay

Yeah! This is one of your standard EXIT games, just like ones I’ve covered in the past. You’ve been cast into the gaps between worlds through the mysterious gate, and you need to get home! In order to get there, you need to figure out the coordinates and enter them into the gate. You do this by solving puzzles, which will usually distill themselves down to three numbers.

When you’ve got three numbers, enter them into the gate to get an Answer Card! But that’s not all of it. The Answer Card, if you’re potentially right, will direct you to another Answer Card based on the shape of the gate. If you’re right again, you’ll unlock the next way forward!

As with all EXIT games, don’t open or look at anything until you’re told to do so. Once you’ve completed all the puzzles, you may be able to return home again! Hopefully.

Player Count Differences

I’d actually say that this game’s a bit of an odd duck. Generally, I try to note when EXIT titles benefit from more players or fewer players. This has a bit of both! It’s linear, which generally benefits smaller player counts, but it also has a few puzzles that are definitely sped up with extra hands. Haven’t seen that as frequently, but I think I gotta still lean towards fewer players for the sole fact that there are a number of puzzles that really don’t go faster with multiple players. Generally, two is my power recommendation for EXIT games; you have one person to solve the puzzle and one person to manipulate the disc, write things down, and check the Answer Cards. You then just take turns as puzzles present. In less linear iterations, you can split the puzzles up between your players, but that’s not always feasible when the game wants puzzles to mostly proceed in a straight line. I still think two is a solid number for this one, but I will freely admit there were a few puzzles where I had nothing to do and some where my co-player had nothing to do. Thankfully, I like messing with the disc, so that helped. I think with four people, you’re either going to need a lot of collaboration (not really … critical for this one; it’s not among the more difficult EXITs), or you’re going to lose a lot of time passing puzzles between players so that everyone gets a “shot” at solving something. That isn’t quite what I’m looking for with an EXIT.

Strategy

  • You’re going to be traveling through a gate between worlds; it may help to have a large table area ready. This is mostly handy because there’s some value in spreading everything out as you deal with it. I think that this is more generally useful for EXIT games, but I’d specifically recommend having a medium-sized playing space available for this one. I used probably as much space as we used for the jigsaw EXITs, but that’s also because I wanted to be able to see the full context of everything.
  • Also be careful: one of the booklets is not supposed to be opened completely, at first. The game tells you which one, but make sure you’re double-checking each time so you don’t accidentally spoil a puzzle for yourself unintentionally.
  • A lot of text is underlined; it’s probably more important. I’d just recommend paying close attention to the text you’re presented with; if it seems like it was intentionally underlined, perhaps it’s more important than the rest of the flavor text? It might be useful to keep track of those underlined sections for potential puzzles.
  • As always, when you’re stuck, just get a help card. Or even use a help card to get you started! I go over this with basically every EXIT game, but functionally, points are meaningless unless you’re really invested in getting the top score. And even then, some EXITs give you bonus stars if you do certain optional things, so you can even beat that. I like occasionally checking the first help card, since it’ll tell you what components you need to solve the puzzle. The second help card is more of an explicit hint, and the third help card is the full solution. Knowing that, you can often just get the card that you need if you get stuck, and I think the help cards are pretty useful in that regard. If you get stuck, you’re often wasting time, and that can cost you as many stars as using a help card would, so, why not just get the hint and move on?

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • These puzzles all felt very new, which was cool. There were a lot of tactile / dexterity / perspective puzzles in this one, which was interesting! A few things I’ve definitely not seen before. I’m consistently impressed how every game manages to have new and different puzzles, and I’ve even seen some of these styles of puzzles implemented in actual physical escape rooms I’ve done. None from this set, but more generally. I think that’s super cool. They’re doing an excellent job providing the escape room experience in an at-home, smaller box. And, at least in the Bay Area, it’s much cheaper than going to an actual escape room (and given the pandemic, a lot more feasible). I’m just a big fan of the EXIT experience, and I think Gate Between Worlds shakes it up in a good way while still remaining faithful to the core gameplay.
  • Many of the puzzles were also quite good, which I appreciated. There are some that are tricky, some that are fun, some that are satisfying, and some that are all three. I always really appreciate the design of the puzzles, even if I find a few of them to be a little fiddly. I think the thing that I’m most impressed by with the EXIT series is its consistency. I’m still super engaged, even after, what, 19 EXIT titles? This is my 20th EXIT review. Still enjoying it, and still being stumped by the odd puzzle. It’s a great feeling.
  • Also, while I quite enjoyed the jigsaw puzzle EXITs, it was nice to get back to the mainline games. I still loved the EXIT jigsaws, but I did start to miss the familiarity of the mainline EXIT games. That said, I didn’t get my normal Riddle Cards in this one, so we’ll see what happens in subsequent titles. I have to assume more are on the way and I’m excited.
  • One place seemed somewhat familiar? It seems like they were mining a lot of different worlds for potential, but they ended up with some crafty choices. I enjoyed them! We weren’t particularly blocked on any of them, either, but I was amused by one in particular.
  • I like that the disc stands up this time. It’s fun. You always gotta change things up occasionally, and even the most familiar EXIT game deserves a bit of a mix-up from time to time. I was pleasantly surprised that the disc is, itself, the Gate Between Worlds, so it needs to stand up so you can operate it. That was a fun little bit of intrigue. There’s a mild spoiler on the disc itself, and I apologize for that, but there’s only so much you can do when taking photos, and you’ll see it as soon as you open the box.

Mehs

  • I’ll freely admit the single Riddle Card threw me off, at the beginning. There’s only one Riddle Card in the whole game! That’s definitely changing things up. I assume that’s because the other components have riddles of their own, similar to the jigsaw EXITs, but I was like “is this allowed???” when I first separated the cards out. Don’t be alarmed, I suppose.
  • My housemate was gently unnerved by one of the aliens you encounter as you travel between worlds. I found the whole process very funny, so it’s mostly a Pro for me and a Con for her. We averaged it out to a Meh. She’s played every EXIT game I’ve reviewed with me since the very beginning, so, I try to carve out space to be cognizant of her preferences, where I can.
  • The linear nature of this puzzle means that not every puzzle benefits from having multiple people on it. Some do, however! I think this is a nice compromise for the linear puzzles that sometimes define EXIT games. Here, we usually have one person on puzzle and one person on disc / Answer Card duty, and we trade off as needed. There were a few puzzles that explicitly benefitted from being able to split the work, though, so that was nice. Some were very much just “it’s probably best that one person has their hands on this at all times”, which, maybe a bit less fun. Overall, it kind of averaged out to a “some puzzles were more multiplayer-friendly than others”, so, firmly in the Mehs.
  • One puzzle can be a bit fiddly. It requires a decently precise amount of manual control, which is interesting, but can also be very challenging for some players, especially because there’s a mild curveball halfway through it. It still ends up leading to one of the coolest puzzles in the game, though, so I’ll let it off with a mild rebuke. The perhaps one problem with the EXIT games’ low price point is that the components aren’t exactly engineered for stability (and are just meant to be quickly recycled, anyways), so, that can occasionally lead to a bit of fiddly gameplay.

Cons

  • Another puzzle requires a bit of cultural context, which not every player may have. I’m not 100% sure how common this is, though I definitely was aware of it. It just didn’t occur to me until a bit later, after some time had passed. If you’re not sure and it’s not immediately clear to you, just take a longer look at the whole puzzle and see if anything looks incomplete.
  • It’s not easy to tell which gate is which on the Answer Card. It’s, at the very least, not clear at a glance, which is kind of annoying. I imagine this is a combination of printing and wanting to make each gate the symbol, but the gates kind of look similar since … they’re all large gates. There are some minor differences, but they’re not always easy to discern at a distance. Making them significantly different shapes would have been helpful, I think, but just be prepped for this.

Overall: 8.5 / 10

Overall, I quite enjoyed EXIT: The Gate Between Worlds! I think that it manages to hit the sweet spot of “a return to form for the EXIT series” and “something a little bit new” at the same time, which is a tough needle to thread. For me, coming off of the EXIT jigsaw sets, I did kind of want something a bit more similar to what I’d done in the past (though I really liked the EXIT jigsaw sets), mostly out of some weird sense of nostalgia? And I got that, here. But it also came with some of the things I didn’t miss about the older EXITs, like how intensely linear they can be, at times. That makes it hard for players to collaborate on puzzles, especially if the puzzles are tactile or dexterity-focused. Only one person can really hold a thing at a time, so sometimes players can be left out of more interesting puzzles. I guess that means there might be some value to playing it again, but I’m not entirely convinced on that one. That said, I think there were a lot of very fun puzzles over the course of the game, and they definitely required me to think in ways I had not thought before for the EXIT series. Which is great! Puzzle innovation is very good, especially without any in-person escape room experiences for the last like, year+. While I’m looking forward to some in-person escape room shenanigans, I do have a soft spot for the EXIT games and their streamlined at-home experience. Plus, the disc stands up this time! How droll. If you’re looking for another escape room game, you want to try some new puzzles, or, like me, you’re just a long-haul fan of the EXIT series, I think The Gate Between Worlds is a lot of fun! I’d recommend it.


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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