Oops…. you did it again. During your vacation in Florence you managed to get stuck in the mysterious Museum of Science and Technology. Of course, the offer of free tickets was too good for you to pass and it was raining outside. The strangely-clad man that made the offer and the marble disc that was left in your hands were just minor details to consider…
How would you get out now? Of course, by solving the riddles and puzzles of this new game from Kosmos. “The mysterious Museum” is in fact an escape room board game belonging to the “EXIT – The Game” series. First released in 2016, this very successful series of games requires the players to work together to obtain a series of codes in order to progress through each story. Each game of the series is ranked from 1 to 5 based on how difficult could be to solve it and they could usually be completed in 1-2 hours. Key aspect to remind, EXIT games can only be played once, not only because players will know the solutions to all the challenges but, most importantly, because some components usually need to be “heavily manipulated” in order to solve the riddles. This is reflected in the overall very accessible price of these products.
Whatever you have been playing escape rooms games before or you are looking to try your first one, The Mysterious Museum is quite an exciting adventure. I really enjoyed playing it and if you keep reading you would discover why. Spoiler alert, I will not discuss any riddles or the story in detail as I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone.
Bag The Clues
The first item you find opening the box is the decoder disc. The disc is a key component of the game as it is used to receive new clues once you solve a riddle. The texture of the one you find in this adventure is a bit weird but nothing too strange at the touch.
Just below the decoder disk there will also be an Adventure Book (the “Book”) and a rulebook. If you are new to this type of games you can read it to learn the basics otherwise you can jump straight into the adventure. At the back of the rulebook you will also find a small certificate you could populate to record your performance in the game. I quite like this feature and I plan to keep all of them together to remind which ones we played and how we did.
As every other Exit games, The Mysterious Museum comes with 3 stacks of cards: 26 red Riddle cards (labelled from A to Z), 30 blue Answer cards (numbered from 1 to 30), and 30 green Help cards (labelled with the 10 symbol of the riddle). These last ones are also divided in groups of three as two of them are designed to provide clues to help solving the riddle while the last one is the actual solution in case you are stuck. The cards could show pictures, objects or text on them and it is very important to not look to them till instructed by the adventure book.
Last but not least, the box includes two Strange Items. I felt I knew exactly what they were meant for the moment I saw these two items but it was still fun to use them.
You Know My Methods, Watson
The setup for an Exit game is quite simple. As there is no game board, the setup only requires to lay down the three different types of cards. It is always worth checking the help cards are grouped by their symbol and in order from clue number 1 to solution.
The Book and Decoder Disk should be kept close to all players and any Strange Items should be left in the box at the beginning of the game. The rulebook can be kept nearby as reference or left in the box too.
Once setup completed, you turn the first page of the Book and start your adventure. The first page of the book reveals a picture of the starting room and the first part of the story. On top of the page, you are also instructed to get your first riddle card. As mentioned above, the goal of this Exit game is to escape from the Museum you have locked yourself in. In order to do this, you will need to find the 3 digit codes that unlocks this area of the adventure to progress to the next one.
This progress is usually associated with turning a new page of the Book but in some cases you may need to stay on the current one as instructed by the cards. In The Mysterious Museum, the booklet is solved one double-page at a time, with clear warnings not to proceed unless clearly instructed.
To find the code, players will usually need to look at the pictures carefully and to use any clue provided by the game. Word of advise, not all the clues are to be used immediately and some of them could come in hand more than once during your adventure. Once the code identified, players will need to align all the digits on the Decoder Disk under the symbol on the current riddle card. Once this done, the Disk’s smallest wheel will point players to look at the corresponding light blue answer card. This may confirm you have solved the Riddle and instruct you to turn the page or get more riddle cards. In other cases, the Answer Card may tell players the solution they came up is wrong…
If you’re getting stuck, you can always look at the Hint Cards to get some help. These cards are divided in groups showing the same symbol as the Riddle card. You should always look at these cards in order from clue 1 to solution to see if the help provided may still allow you to solve the puzzle.
The game continues once code at a time until all 10 codes have been cracked and you reach the end of the adventure. The last game Answer card usually describes your escape. Once the game completed, you can check your score at the page next to the last in the rulebook and populate the certificate of completion to celebrate your success!
Breaking The Code
Overall, EXIT: The Mysterious Museum is a lot of fun! First the riddles and puzzles in this game are both engaging and fun to solve. Truth said this is accurate for most of the adventures of this series of games but I felt the ones in this adventure undeniably fit the setting of the story. A couple of puzzles in particular were very fun to play and quite inventive. I struggled a bit with one when a played but my wife got the right idea and unfolded the cleverness of the puzzle for us.
The variety of the riddles that populate the story is also quite good. Even if you have been playing Exit games for a while, I can assure you will still find some new ones that will surprise you. On the other hand, I quite don’t like that there are always one or two riddles that feel the same among all the adventure. In this particular case there is only one that feel like “the usual riddle” but you find it quite early in the game and overall it gets forgotten once you arrive at the end.
In terms of difficulty, The Mysterious Museum has been clearly designed to be on the easy side. Although is classified as 2 out of 5 for difficulty, this game is quite approachable and the story progresses in a much more linear way than usual. All these characteristics together make the Mysterium museum a good entry level for those who are looking to try one of these games for the first time.
Considering the relatively low difficulty, the game is suitable to be played solo or with a very reduced number of players. I would not recommend to play it in a large group as there are no activities or riddles that could be parallelized among the players and you may find difficult to keep everyone engaged.