Thames and Kosmos are back again with another in the entertaining EXIT The Game franchise. The Cursed Labyrinth is one of the latest in the line, but I feel every time I look away from their product page another EXIT game gets released or announced. As one of the games in their fifth season of EXIT The Game once again players are thrust into a new scenario with puzzles to solve that utilize every element not just of what's in the box, but also of the box itself. How does The Cursed Labyrinth compare to some of their previous outings though?
The beginning of a new adventure
So there you are, taking a tour through a historic castle and you end up getting split off from your group. Before too long you end up at the entrance of a Labyrinth and a gate slides shut behind you. As you start to look around for a way out the stone gargoyle looks at you and begins speaking. Telling the story of the titular Cursed Labyrinth that has come to life it's now up to you, and any friends you've brought along the way to solve the different puzzles of the labyrinth and find your way out. You're going to need to suspend your disbelief a bit to get into this story, not the most eloquent setup to be had but it at least gets you to your starting point quickly so that you can hop into the meat of the game.
Inside the box you'll find a decoder ring, a series of Riddle, Answer, and Hint cards, an instruction booklet, a story booklet, and a series of interesting props. It's a simple yet effective system that allows players to complete puzzles in the booklet revealing a set of three numbers, decoding it through the ring, and checking the corresponding answer card. Sometimes you'll be greeted with a red X telling you to try again, or you will be rewarded with instructions to proceed through the story booklet. As this is the common system through all of the EXIT games for a returning player it makes diving into a new box an absolute breeze.
Within The Cursed Labyrinth, you'll end up completing 8+ different puzzles. Starting with symbol association, and then moving into the more abstract folding of pages like a Mad Magazine. For the majority of these puzzles, my group of players was able to quickly understand what information we were after and begin to hunt down the solution. There were one or two puzzles that required use of more obscure aspects of the game such as diagrams in the instruction booklet that you're meant to recognize on sight, or timer symbols. For someone who had freshly read the instruction booklet, I could imagine these puzzles might have made more sense but as someone who already understood how to play the game not re-reading the instruction booklet certainly set me back. The rest of the puzzles in the box did a good job of requiring some light mental strain before they were cracked too.
For those few that we were struggling with the hint system, three hints and a full solution, that are on cards marked with a symbol that can be found on the page were a great help. Each puzzle incrementally walked you through the puzzle never directly pointing you at the solution but nudging you in the right direction. "Do you see that clock symbol? Do you recognize it from anywhere else?" You never need to feel like you are being defeated by the game by needing some assistance solving a riddle as even the hints need deciphering. Once the game has been completed you can score yourself based on how long it took to play, and how many hint cards are needed but the true satisfaction of the game isn't in the points scored at the end, but in the journey, it took to get there.
What are our final thoughts on EXIT The Game: The Cursed Labyrinth?
While the leading premise of The Cursed Labyrinth was a bit haphazard the meat of the game is as solid as ever. Thames & Kosmos do a great job at posing a variety of puzzles to the players forcing them to think in unique ways. It's always entertaining to see how everything in the box, including the instruction manual or even the box itself, will get utilized in some of the puzzles. You feel like no part of the game has been wasted even if each box is a single-use experience. EXIT games are always excellent to bring out when you feel your brain needs a bit of exercise on the weekends and The Cursed Labyrinth falls right in with the rest of the ever-expanding catalog.
Should I Buy EXIT The Game: The Cursed Labyrinth?
As a one-time use puzzle game, the premise of the game alone will likely help you decide if it's worth it or not. If an escape room that you can play in your own house sounds like something you'd like to experience then we'd definitely recommend The Cursed Labyrinth. If you're looking for replayability then clearly this isn't going to be what you're into. If you're on the fence it's definitely worth checking out to understand the experience not only that it will fill your day with a few hours of fun, but that it's also a relatively inexpensive experience.
The copy of EXIT The Game: The Cursed Labyrinth used in this review was provided by the publisher.