Exit: The Game – Dead Man on the Orient Express

Exit is a escape room game you can play at home, where you solve all of the puzzles as fast as you can to get the best personal score for you and/or your team! The game can typically only be played once because you mark up, fold, and often tear the game materials. Riddles and answers come in the form of cards, while the main experience is illustrated in a booklet.

Dead Man on the Orient Express takes place in the year 1905, when passenger Edgar Ratchington was murdered. Master detective Achilles Pussot has gone missing and you are now tasked with solving the murder using his notebook. The rest of the passengers on the train claim to have alibis so you are the final hope to expose the culprit before you reach Constantinople.

The Good

Detail-Orientation (+5)

If you’re not used to being very observant about your surroundings in these types of games, you better dust that skill off because you’ll need it. Things you thought were insignificant will stump even the best puzzle master. It’s a 4 out of 5 for a reason, so do not underestimate any detail. I did this for one puzzle and face palmed when I discovered I overlooked something critical. Guess what? I was happy to have been taken off my high horse! This also means take your time to be precise.

Spatial Awareness (+4)

This installment is part puzzle game and part mystery game with investigatory aspects. You’ll need to draw on intuition and litmus testing how reasonable a situation could be. You may even need to imagine yourself actually within the room! I’m always looking forward to non-linear thinking like this, especially when you’re interacting in a 2D environment. I’m a fan of escape rooms just for the tactile experience and this is finally close enough to getting that instead of flipping through decks of cards. Granted, this is not true in the entirety of the puzzles so I wasn’t able to push this up to the full five points but it was apparent enough to be significant for me.

Fear Factor (-1)

It’s a murder mystery! There will be murderous vibes in here, and it creeps you out. If you jump at every little thing, have a great immersive imagination and are one of those people that cannot “unsee” things – like me — be a little wary and maybe have the rest of your team open new items. If you’re flying solo, well… you’ve been warned.

Story Immersion (+5)

The introduction and other flavor from the answer cards are immersive, engaging, and an enjoyable read over all. The characters have archetypal features too. As you progress through the answer cards after unveiling the numbers with the decoder disk, the anticipation rises. It’s very exciting!

No Red Herrings (+5)

Gosh let me tell you I really dislike red herrings so I was happy to be without them. To me, they are simply put there to slow you down rather than challenge you in any meaningful way.

The Bad

Scissors are Mandatory (-1)

Do not rip as your alternative method for puzzles. A couple puzzles are so finicky that even just placing something the wrong way after physically modifying that thing throws off your solution entirely – and, consequently, slows you down enough to drop your star score.

Process of Elimination and Deduction skills are needed (-0.5)

While some puzzle designs in the world can really be concluded if you can notice commonalities, there are puzzles in this that require you to have the ability to eliminate factors based on information you are given. Making conceptual rather than concrete assumptions is not something everyone is good at – including myself — and is often something they even include in entrance exams for law school! Since this was a personal failing, I didn’t dock this an entire point.

Smattering of Boring Puzzle mechanics (-1)

It’s a 4 out of 5 difficulty, so there shouldn’t be any rookie puzzle designs in here but there are definitely groan-worthy solutions where you look at the layout with an immediate “Yeah it’s one of ‘those’ puzzles”.

The Pen is mightier than the Pencil (-0.5)

It suggests you can use a pencil. Absolute b.s., I can’t imagine how anyone would do this without a pen or even a marker! Personal preference, so didn’t warrant an entire point dock.

Sensory overload! (-0.5)

For those who have difficulty ignoring some graphics and paying too much attention to others, having a notepad to replicate riddles is needed. Your mind’s eye can be easily overwhelmed. I wish it weren’t a thing but there were times I whined like a kid because I just could not use my selective seeing skills to solve. Another personal failing, so didn’t deserve a whole point loss.

The Ugly

Decoder Disk (0)

This could have used a bit more love. Other Exit games I’ve completed have had a fun way of keeping the Decoder disk thematic, but this one was just numbers. Super lame but not lame enough to be a in-your-face whine fest. I just wanted to bring it to your attention since this, like all Exit games, will be your friend for the next hour or so.

Proportions (-0.5)

While some of the art was scaled correctly, others were not. I understand that for the sake of being able to read something that adjusting the size is needed but games like Unlock tell you to “eff off” in this regard… so why can’t Exit?

Layout (-0.5)

The booklet is standard but the additional materials that come with the game to help your sleuthing efforts are so fiddly and frustrating to organize in any meaningful way. I really like the ability to sort out what goes together, what I’m working on, and what has been done. Some pieces to this game do not allow for that and you end up losing your place. It’s not at an unmanageable level though, so just a half-point here.

Color Scheme (0)

Oh, my goodness how much brown do you need? You can barely find any of the locked containers in the rooms on the train, let alone compare and confirm that you’re flipping over the correct answer card when you get to that point! Though it’s doable, so no demerits here; I just felt like complaining about it.

Scene Setting (-0.5)

They bothered to portray the train as being lived in, but they didn’t have any of the passengers hanging around. Nothing in the introduction hinted at them having cleared off the train so why aren’t any of the passengers around? Hmph.

Difficulty: 4/5 for Genius
Satisfaction Grade: A- (90.7%) for Amazing
Worth Your Money? Yes.