Full disclosure: A review copy of EXIT: The Hunt for the Golden Book was provided by KOSMOS.
It’s a nonspecific holiday miracle! Yes, ahead of Advent proper, I’m reviewing both of the EXIT Advent Calendars. Last week we covered 2021’s Mystery of the Ice Cave, and now we’re hunting for some kind of Golden Book! Always exciting. I’m a huge fan of the EXIT series, as y’all know, and having done the puzzles and the standard games, getting to try out these big calendars is a real highlight of my game-solving experience. Love a big puzzle, so let’s see what’s going on with it!
In EXIT: The Hunt for the Golden Book, players have been given a specific task from Santa Claus himself: his golden book has been stolen, and you need to find the thief and save Christmas! The thief has been tracked to a mysterious village, and in tracking them, you may have to travel to different places … and different times? It’s going to be hectic, but time might be on your side for this one. Can you find the thief, solve these riddles, and get the book back to the big man before Christmas morning?
Player Count Differences
Again, I think this kind of shines at two players, but there’s definitely a bit of wiggle room if you have some younger players who want to observe or if you’re powering through the entire thing in two days because you have a review to write and you get a bit puzzled out somewhere around the 18th and want to take a brief mental break. All are valid outcomes! With one, it’s a bit easier to read some of the text more quickly, granted, but, I don’t know, I think the game and the adventure are more fun when they’re shared with someone else! That’s just me. You can definitely have players who are just along for the story, though; they can read it every day before the puzzling starts, or they can just open the doors and disassemble stuff. It all works out. Like I said, highest recommendation at two players, though.
- We started tearing both hint and riddle pages out after each day, and that was super helpful. This way, whenever we open the booklets, we’re ready to go with the next day. We also got a really good stack of day / hint interleaved, so by the end of it, we had the complete story and all the puzzles. Granted, we shredded them all after the game was done, but that’s just our commitment to avoiding spoilers. You’re welcome.
- As is normally the case with these EXIT games, don’t throw any part of the game away until you’re done. We made absolutely sure we were done before we shredded everything and destroyed the rest of it. By destroyed, we do mean recycled, though. Reuse and all that.
- The instructions will tell you when to open something; you’ll never need to fully open an alcove before its specific day. The game is really precise in its language, so don’t worry. You’ll never fully open a door before the day it’s supposed to be opened, so you probably will not need to do a lot of stressing out about it. Plus, the game is pretty clear: find the three symbols, follow the directions, and use the symbols to match. If you’re not doing that, you generally won’t be opening the alcove.
- The hint system is there to help you! Use them if you’re stuck. I really like the way they structured the hint system in this game; it’s very approachable. Make sure you’re availing yourself of the hints if you’re getting stuck; this is supposed to be a fun game, after all.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- If you enjoy an easter egg-heavy puzzle, which I do, this is definitely one of those. There are many fun references to other EXIT titles in this one, even the previous year’s Advent Calendar! I’m a big fan of the referential nature of these kinds of games, so I found this whole thing delightful.
- I really like the Advent Calendar structure of all of this. I mentioned it in my previous review, but I think the Advent Calendar interaction is a really good way to invest in a longer-form EXIT game with some new things every day. I’ve been seeing a lot more Advent Calendars in the wild (my housemate spent about two months trying to drink through a wine Advent Calendar; there’s truly only so much you can do), so why not an EXIT one? It’s a nice way to expand the series, which, as a fan, I like to see.
- This is much more Christmas-heavy than the previous Advent Calendar, which may be a Pro or a Con for you. I am a big Christmas person (the tree should already be up by the time this is published; I feel nothing about Thanksgiving), so this is totally fine with me. That said, it’s worth mentioning just in case you want something a bit more holiday-neutral.
- They improved the quality of the Decoder Table, which is nice; it’s a firmer cardboard, now. It’s not as liable to bend or tear, which I appreciate. I was a bit worried about the more papery one with the last Advent Calendar, so I’m glad they proactively fixed it.
- The puzzles are a nice little mini-EXIT style thing; they’re on the quicker end, which I appreciate. They’re not quite as time-intensive as some of the other EXIT games; they’re more like a quick mini-puzzle, which is a nice way to get my brain going on any given day.
- They had some interesting puzzle types, as well! I think there might even have been a new kind? Or at least one that I didn’t expect, in this one. I appreciate that they’re consistently trying to iterate on puzzle types and coming up with new stuff, but there wasn’t anything that I particularly didn’t care for. That’s pretty impressive across twenty-four puzzles.
- Again, not a very 2022-specific puzzle, so you really can play it whenever. It IS very Christmas-centric, as mentioned, so, keep that in mind, but it can be any Christmas you want. Christmas in July? Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere? Whatever you need.
- There’s a small prize for winning the Advent Calendar, and weirdly, I was sort-of disappointed that I preferred the previous year’s prize. This year’s prize isn’t bad, granted, but last year’s was really exciting. That’s just the breaks, I suppose.
- More typos than I expected, but honestly, that kind of thing is to be expected when you’re dealing with this volume of text. I think it’s genuinely extremely hard to get through and address that much text, even with a dedicated editor / team of editors, I just remember noticing more typos than in previous iterations. It could very much be because we played all of it over two days.
- Oh, there’s a slight misprint on one of the puzzles. It doesn’t matter that much, but one part of the puzzle wasn’t translated from German. You may not even notice it, to be fair, but in case you ever get confused, just remember that “East” in English is “Ost” in German, and that might clear things up. Not a particularly bad translation error, but it briefly threw us off.
Overall: 9.25 / 10
Overall, I really enjoyed EXIT: The Hunt for the Golden Book! Of the two Advent Calendars released so far, I slightly prefer this one; it nicely iterates on The Mystery of the Ice Cave and presents a novel and entertaining collection of puzzles. I still really like the whole EXIT Advent Calendar thing, at its core, so that works really well for me. This one’s a bit more Christmas-centric than last time, which makes sense given it’s a mission from literal Santa Claus to save Christmas, rather than just being stranded, but it still nicely preserves the Advent Calendar ethos of being able to do a bunch of puzzles over a month (or over two days, if you so desire). The variety of puzzles was pleasant, which I always enjoy, but I’m also consistently impressed at the Brands’ ability to keep the EXIT games feeling fairly fresh after so many distinct titles. I’m still consistently drawn in by the EXIT series, though, so, every time I try a new one, I’m excited to see how it shapes up. Hopefully, this will be a yearly thing! I’m enjoying the progression, even if I personally can’t tolerate the wait. I just do them in a day or two and say “well, it’s because I need to write a review, you see”, and pretend like that’s a meaningful distinction. It probably is. If you’re looking for a more long-form EXIT experience, you’re actually patient, or you just want a nice holiday gift for your favorite puzzler, I’d definitely recommend EXIT: The Hunt for the Golden Book! I think it’s really good.
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