#986 – EXIT: The Return to the Abandoned Cabin [Mini]

Base price: $XX.
XX players.
Play time: ~XX minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Check it out on Kickstarter! (Will update link when Kickstarter is live.)
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 1; the usual amount.

Full disclosure: A review copy of EXIT: The Return to the Abandoned Cabin was provided by KOSMOS.

Another EXIT game is here! I think you all know the drill by now, so we’ll probably just dive straight into things, which is fun. EXIT remains one of my perennial favorite board game series, and by now they’ve not shown any signs of slowing down. If nothing else, they’re expanding their scope, between jigsaw puzzles and advent calendars and themed EXITs and the EXIT Kids line. I’ll be interested to see what they do next! In the meantime, let’s check out EXIT: The Return to the Abandoned Cabin!

In EXIT: The Return to the Abandoned Cabin, you once again take on the role of the folks who keep getting locked in places by some very creepy guy. Unfortunately, he escaped from jail (puzzle jail? unclear.) and now the police have shown up to ask you for your help inside of the very same cabin he locked you in a while back, if you remember that sort of thing. Now you’re going back! Hope the police department pays for your therapy. Somewhere in the woods, this weird puzzle man is waiting for you with even more weird puzzles. Can you catch him again?

Contents

Player Count Differences

This one’s a bit more nonlinear, so I think there are places where two players can work in tandem, but largely, I find that the EXITs tend to work best in the two-player space. Except for the jigsaw puzzles, at least, where it helps to have more players. Playing solo, frankly, I just don’t trust myself to always be able to suss out the answer. It’s a huge advantage for me to have someone else to talk things out with. I’m seeing an ongoing trend for this among the more traditional EXIT line, but it’s always good to check in and think about it a bit more. With four, I worry that the components are too small to let everyone get in on the action at all times, so you may just end up with puzzles that only one or two people are working on at a time. My preference here is sticking to two players.

Strategy

  • As usual, if you’re feeling stuck, try using the hints! They’re there to help you, and you don’t always lose a star for losing hints; time is more often what trips you up in terms of points. That said, it’s not like the points … really matter, in any way, shape or form, so you can just use hints if you want to use hints.
  • Not really a strategy tip, but make sure you read the rulebook throughly before you start the game. There’s some extra setup that you need to do for this one, and I’d hate for you to miss out on a very entertaining experience. This isn’t related to any puzzles; don’t worry.
  • This game will usually have the answer resolve down to numbers or colors. You shouldn’t just expect numbers to form your answers; you’ll occasionally get some color answers that you need to resolve to numbers. Make sure you’re checking that dial!

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • Hey, they started including a checklist of all the EXIT games you’ve completed. That’s actually pretty helpful. This is just a nice thing to include, at this point, especially since there are so many. It helps me from a reviewer side by also letting me know if I missed any (and thankfully, I don’t believe that I have, currently). I can’t always track releases that well; it’s tough stuff.
  • Pretty good set of puzzles, this time around. I don’t think there was anything we didn’t particularly enjoy, which is a nice rarity. There’s usually one, which is a perfectly fine hit rate (they can’t all be winners), but, yeah, we liked all the puzzles this time around. They did some pretty clever stuff!
  • I even really liked the setup for the game! No spoilers, but there’s a lot of fun in the cabin the second time around. This is probably my favorite part of the game; they really wowed me here. I’ve played some other games that do similar things to what’s done here and they’re delightful, too. I’ve never really said that EXIT games were particularly immersive, but this one does its best to prove me wrong.
  • I appreciate that, even now, an EXIT game still manages to surprise me from time to time. A couple things in here were genuinely unexpected. Were they puzzles? Secrets? Secret puzzles? Only one way to find out. But as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there’s always a fear that these may eventually become rote or samey, and I just haven’t found that to be the case. I’m interested in the process now.
  • A pretty nonlinear game, at times, which I was impressed by. I always like the more nonlinear EXITs; it means I can split up the puzzle between me and my housemate and we can both work on different parts of the puzzle at the same time. It means that we move through the puzzle much faster than we do for some of the linear ones (and that we can swap puzzles if we ever get stuck).
  • A number of fun trinkets inside! There’s an impressive level of physicality in this one. Fun trinkets improve the tactile appeal of the game and make some of the puzzles more fun to solve. Plus, I think they end up feeling more memorable than a deck of cards or a paper notebook. Getting players engaged through physical items is a nice way to strengthen the overall game, I think.
  • On the shorter end, for us? I think we got through it in about an hour. It was on the shorter side, but not by a ton. Didn’t feel like we were shortchanged on time or puzzles, either.
  • I am consistently impressed by how much stuff they fit in one box, as well. There are a lot of puzzles to solve in all of the EXIT games, easily 7+, and the box is stuffed pretty full of content, this time around. I think it all works pretty well, but I have a lot of respect for the Brands for consistently managing to push the envelope.

Mehs

  • There are definitely a few times where I set something aside, thinking I was done with it, and then I needed it again. It’s not the worst thing, but it activates an entire cycle of sigh, roll your eyes, grab the original again, and then move on. It’s a fairly uninteresting cycle, but it’s once I’ve experienced a few times, now. Just don’t put some of the objects back into the box or too far, once you’ve finished up with them.
  • It’s a bit odd that this one narratively follows a few other EXIT games but those games aren’t really part of a series or anything. You might have even played them in the wrong order, if such a thing exists. It would be nice if they were marked in some way, I suppose? I don’t think it’s super critical if you play them out of order, but it might throw off the occasional player if they suddenly find out that Funbeq has an entire saga of EXIT games that you, the player, are now only just finding out about. It just feels a bit strange.

Cons

  • A couple of the puzzles seem to rely on color without necessarily double-coding the color, so I do wonder about this from an accessibility standpoint. Just generally a thing I don’t love to see, since not everyone has the same ability to process color. Just some sort of pattern or some form of double-coding would help a lot with overall accessibility.

Overall: 8.75 / 10

Overall, I thought EXIT: The Return to the Abandoned Cabin was another strong entry in the EXIT franchise! I don’t want to spoil anything for y’all, so I’ll reign it in, but I really think they swung for the fences with this one and mostly knocked it out of the park! I’ve been consistently impressed by the EXIT games, and I’m always pleased to see that they’re trying new things. While The Return to the Abandoned Cabin is a very explicit sequel, I think they really elevated the cabin from the original and made it quite fun. That said, I liked The Abandoned Cabin a lot, too, so, it’s a nice point of continuity. I think the tactile puzzles in this game were particularly excellent, and they managed to surprise me again, which is always fun. That’s hard to do, I think, at this point. I do worry a bit about using colors for puzzles, just from an accessibility standpoint, so keep an eye out for that before you play. But while this EXIT is a bit on the quicker side, it’s still a nice and strong entry on the puzzle side, so we finished up very pleased with the overall experience. Another success for the EXITs; can’t wait for the next one. If you’re anywhere on the range from “die-hard EXIT fan” to “interested in escape room board games”, I’d definitely recommend checking out EXIT: The Return to the Abandoned Cabin! We had a blast.


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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