“It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key…”
Publisher: Thames and Kosmos
Designer: Inka Brand, Markus Brand, Ralph Querfurth
Artist: Silvia Christoph, Martin Hoffmann, Michaela Kienle
Game Type: Co-Operative Play, Deduction
Initial Year of Release: 2019
Age Range: 10+
Expected Playtime: 120 Minutes
Number of Players: 1-4 Players
Theme and What is it?
Have you ever wanted to do an Escape Room style game in the comfort of your own home… well the Exit games give you that experience and more! The Catacombs of Horror is no exception and is as deep as any mystery game I’ve ever played.
Disclaimer: The images used in this article are just for thematic purposes and are not included in the game. I couldn’t take pictures of the actual game because literally every component I looked at would have been a spoiler.
I will try to keep this article as neutral and spoiler free as possible. .
It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key…
There is little I can tell you about the mechanics behind the Exit games without completely spoiling the basic principles. What I can say is don’t throw anything away… you will be asked to cut things out, fold things and lots of other disconcerting things that most board gamers would shudder at… but its all part of the fun.
The Exit games need to be considered as almost disposable (in the best possible connotation of the word), as soon as you can come to terms with that it will free your mind to think way outside of the box and do things with the components that you will have never done before.
From the moment I opened the box and started thumb through the rules pamphlet I was hooked. The brief story prologue sets the scene nicely and pushes you straight into the first puzzles.
This being my first Exit game made this opening experience probably a little bit harder than it needed to be considering the difficulty level of this particular version but we powered through.
Game Build Quality
The game quality is functional. What I mean by this is that all of the components don’t need to be the highest-grade card stock or splashed with UV spotting because, for the most part, this would be a waste of time and money.
The components all fit a specific requirement and the quality of each component is as high as I would expect.
The art work is atmospheric and sets the scene for each individual section of the adventure.
It visually keeps you on track and in the case of the Catacombs of Horror certainly makes you feel like you could really be scrabbling around in the dark looking for that all important piece of the puzzle.
I played this as a 2-player game and it player perfectly well, maybe a little longer than expected but nothing major. I can see this playing very well as a 4-player game and would be a perfect style of game for certain group of gamers.
I have friends who don’t like board games at all but I know for certain they would love the problem solving and team mentality of this type of experience. However, I can also see that certain groups would not have the patience to push through a game like this.
There is a point that the frustration of not being able to solve a problem starts to way heavy, so you take some clues, and you realise the answer was staring you in the face all the time. An experience like that can leave a sour taste in your mouth if you can’t accept the fact that you might not be a genius…
Like me (LOLZ)
Age Range & Weight
If you can point me in the direction of a 10yr old that could solve some of these puzzles then I would declare that without question that child would be destined for great things.
All jokes aside, there is nothing stopping a 10yr old playing the Exit games other than the difficulty level associated with them. The theme can be a little bit creepy but not enough to make me stop my child from joining in… but, in my experience, my 8yr old would be a cute anchor that would slow the game play down to a complete stop.
I honestly believe these games require a bit of life experience to see between the lines or to look at a problem from an outside perspective. Also, this took us 3 hours to finish! Way longer than expected!
Try keeping a 10yr olds attention for that length of time when it doesn’t involve the Avengers.
This was an experience I’ll remember for a long time… this is due to its massive highs and its depressing lows. The feeling of figuring out a puzzle after 20 minutes of discussion, debate, arguments, raised voices, negotiation and finally realisation is a rollercoaster of emotions that I haven’t experienced in many other games that I’ve played throughout the years.
On the flip side, I can also see how some people might give up with a game like this. The frustration can sometimes be mentally exhausting and there is no indication of when the game will end and what the conclusion will be. Will the payoff be worth it???
In my opinion the answer is yes and on the price point currently set for the Exit games I encourage anyone to give them a go…
You might want to consider starting on a slightly easier version first though., or you might be telling yourself what your significant other has been saying for years… You are not as smart as you think you are!
Comment below, if you are smarter than me!