I’ve written about the Exit games before, but never about a specific game from the rather extensive range that’s currently available. There’s a reason for that; as Escape Room-esque experiences that you can only play once, they rely on players knowing as little as possible before they start the game. This makes it extremely difficult to talk about each one without heading into spoiler territory, unfortunately.
However, I should be able to talk about my experience with The Haunted Rollercoaster in more general terms. As the third Exit title I’ve tried, I have to say it was also the most fun too. It was a little on the easy side in comparison to the others I’ve played – though ranked slightly higher in difficulty than The Sunken Treasure, the group I played with actually found this one much easier (it’s nowhere near as difficult as Dead Man on the Orient Express, but that one was ranked at close to the highest difficulty level – and it definitely felt like it!). There’s a (non-essential) app which you can use to time your group as they play; this will also assist you in calculating your score at the end of the game – which depends on the time taken and the number of hint cards used (my group scored 8 out of 10, reaching the end in under 90 minutes, using two hints to help nudge us in the right direction).
If you’re not aware of the Exit games, a quick and general overview. They play out as a loosely narrative experience, with players working their way through a brief story, often just an excuse for a series of thoughtfully designed puzzles. Finding three digit codes is often the key to progressing and succeeding, using clues given on riddle cards and puzzles in an accompanying book that’s unique to the scenario being played.
What I love about the Exit games is how tactile and interactive they are. Components – including the box – can be written on, cut up, folded and combined to find puzzle solutions. Though this is a huge part of the appeal of each title in the series, this is also why they can only be played once.
The Haunted Rollercoaster has a really cool, faux-spooky theme that’s suitable for all ages (feeling comparable in tone to Goosebumps) and there’s a few physical elements that come into play which were impressively well implemented – and had the group smiling and laughing at how clever they were. Unlike other scenarios I’ve played, there weren’t many points where the group felt utterly stuck and frustrated at not knowing what to do next; despite this, we still felt very smart when working out what to do.
It’s The Haunted Rollercoaster that’s cemented the Exit series as my favourite series of Escape Room-in-a-box style games; though it has several rivals (including Unlock, for example), there’s nothing that’s so far come close to the sheer fun and inventiveness I’ve seen across the Exit titles I’ve played so far, and The Haunted Rollercoaster has some absolutely spectacular puzzles that require lots of out of the box, inside the box and with-the-box thinking!
There’s even an element in this particular scenario that’s given as a sort of prize at the end of the game; something that can be used and played with more than once (though what that is shall remain, of course, secret), which is the first time I’ve come across anything of this nature in the titles I’ve played in the series.
I’d say that The Haunted Rollercoaster is probably the best of the series for newcomers too; if you have been keen to check out games of this nature, this is definitely a good place to start. Very impressive stuff!
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