EXIT: The MUSEUM MYSTERY is an EXIT ROOM game for 1-4 Players. Illustrated by Michael Menzel throughout (exception Cover Art by Silvia Christoph)
Concept Design : Ralph Querfurth & Sandra Dochtermann. Published by KOSMOS Spiele / THAMES/KOSMOS
The MUSEUM MYSTERY is one of the series of EXIT games already available in stores and online for around £12.00.
Others in the series include:
The SUNKEN TREASURE. The ABANDONED CABIN both having a 2.5 Difficulty Level from 5 points
The POLAR STATION. The FORGOTTEN ISLAND. The SINISTER MANSION all have 3.0 Difficulty Level
DEAD MAN on the ORIENT EXPRESS. The PHAROAH'S TOMB. The FORBIDDEN CASTLE are all Difficulty Level 4
The MUSEUM MYSTERY is Difficulty Level 2/Novice
I, along with my wife and eldest son, had previously played several EXIT ROOM games together, admittedly mostly the dvGiochi DECKSCAPE ones, and between us we have a reasonable success rate. This was the first KOSMOS EXIT:the Game adventure we attempted, but just to make things more difficult, Grant (aforementioned eldest son) had already been through it with someone else and thus dropped out (rather than help us) leaving just Fran and I to go it alone. Being as it's for 1 player minimum (up to 4) we figured how hard can it be? If one player is supposed to be able to do it then 2 ancient gamer brains (okay one brain and one brain cell) shouldn't have too much trouble with it. .. Wrong!! Apparently we aren't as bright as I thought we were.
To begin with this is a LEGACY game, you need to cut/tear pages, write on other pages etc, something that goes against our prior mentioned ancient gamer ethics. We were brought up to respect our 'toys' and games and therefore I am quick to jump when someone taps a playing card on their lips or teeth, or continually holds onto their cards, thus bending them or sweating on to them so that they pad out as the card swells etc. I also don't like box bottoms being put into box tops as getting them out again often means torn corners - I really am nitpicky, but then I also have numerous games from a good number of years past that have been played regularly and are still in good component/box shape.
There are 85 cards that are split by colour and name into three decks. There are 30 Help cards with Green backs, 30 Answer cards with Blue backs and 25 Riddle cards with Red backs. There is also a 3-part decoder disc, 2 unusual physical items, and a Museum Booklet. To begin with you have the Booklet and the Disc, and the Disc aint talking.
Unlike many games that are classified under 'board games' there is no board, nor do you create a board of any type by using the cards. The cards are always on display with their coloured flip-side showing, the information side is only ever available when a previous card or instruction tells you to read it. To play the game LEGACY style you require a pair of scissors - yes there are cards to cut up - plus you'll need a Pen/Pencil, spare note-paper, and a timer.
The use or need of a Timer is for personal use only as this isn't a game you can play, time yourself, then play again in an attempt to beat your time. Page 7 of the rules booklet has a time chart linked to how many Help Cards you use and how long it takes for you to complete the game by exiting the museum - weirdly there is no link to the number of players involved which would surely make a difference on the time taken and Help cards used.
If, like me, you are loathe to destroy game components, then take a break (stop the timer) each time you come to a card that needs cutting etc and make a rough but accurate duplicate on a piece of paper or card and use that instead, starting the timer again when you are ready.
Having read through the Rules booklet you get to the aforementioned page 7 where, in Bold yellow print it says 'The Game Begins'. This is where you open the booklet to Page 2 and your initial Riddle card 'A' and your first photograph of the inner sanctum of the Florence (Italy) Museum of Science & Technology. Your first card and your first chance to test your resolve - do you cut it with the scissors or do you use your imagination? Solve the clue/s and you will require the Disc, get the number of an Answer card. Look through the Answer cards to find the required number, flip it and read it. If it has a big Red X you have misread the clues. If it has text pertinent to your Riddle then you have the correct card and your investigation can move on.
If your current clue/photo etc has a white symbol on it that matches the white symbol on one of the sets of Help cards then you are allowed to find that set of cards and use them. The first Help card in the set will be your First Clue and you need to do all you can that is stated on the card. This should send you, probably indirectly, to the Second Clue which will give you all you need to solve the puzzle. Of course you have to decipher these clues using your vision (mainly) but also by thinking laterally, forward and backward. Occasionally the clues are obvious but other times you really need to work for them. If you can get your thoughts on the same wavelength as the creator then you might fly through the clues, otherwise there will be the need for (possibly lengthy) discussion between all players. Once a decision has been made you turn to the third card in the set - the Solution. Once you think you have correctly solved the puzzle you should have a three digit number to enter as a code onto the disc. This in turn gives you an Answer card number which, if you were correct will have more text for you to follow to the next puzzle, or a big Red X if you were wrong, and you have to rethink your detective powers.
We figured that being the 'entry level' Novice Difficulty this 'Get Out of the Museum' mystery should be easier than any of the DECKSCAPE or DECKTECTIVE games we have played. It didn't work out as we figured! The clues are more sketchy, the detective work is more realistic, and the clues require a lot more abstract and lateral thought than we were used to. Coupled with the facts that there were only two of us, both not as young as we used to be and neither with 20-20 vision (which makes seeing and identifying all the necessary clues not as easy as it should be). We failed too often for our eventual success to truly be called a success but I am sure with another player or two (of different ages to Fran and I) we would have been more efficient and productive.
Being stuck in the Museum brought back memories of the Ben Stiller/Robin Williams film 'Night in the Museum' but despite this game having a good, interesting, strong storyline, sadly none of the things that happened in the movie happen in the game and I was disappointed in not meeting Sacajawea.
It's a shame that if you play these EXIT games as they are meant to be played they cannot be passed on to friends and family, but then with them being a 60 - 150 minutes of entertainment spending £12.00 or so is more than good value for money. Besides, if you are careful (or make duplicates) with your use of the unique special objects and prudent with the scissors and making pen marks on the cards, then you can play and enjoy it to its full capacity and still be able to pass it on.
For Fran and myself the clues were more abstract than we were used to, but the story made us want to complete the adventure however long it took us or how many Help, Clue and Solution cards we needed. Brighter, younger (or less confused) brains would most likely have taken the linear path and run with it. The main thing is, we enjoyed it.
Having written my review and posted it on GGO I found other reviews on Boardgamegeek and I urge you to read them also. It appears that Fran and I are the only players in the universe who couldn't get onto the same planet as the authors of the game - everyone is saying it is an easy game to solve, some claim they never even used one of the Help cards, and others solved it in under an hour.
Sometimes you can hit the ground rolling when you begin one of these game types, and other times you get stuck in a mindset you can't shift. I guess we fell into the latter category.
It is difficult to review a puzzle game without revealing hints, answers or solutions, whilst getting the atmosphere and spirit of the game across fairly for reader, writer and publisher. I have done my best to honour the secrecy that must be kept.