With the Exit: The Game series now including more than a dozen offerings, and not the only series on offer, it can no longer be said that escape room style games are a new and innovative concept in tabletop gaming. But it is still an entertaining genre that provides a distinctive experience from most tabletop games – a shorter, one-shot puzzle-solving experience. And Exit remains my favorite escape room game series.
One of the most recent additions is The Enchanted Forest, which is skewed towards players new to the series, or those just looking for a light experience. For those who haven’t played an Exit game before, they involve solving puzzles that are marked with a particular key symbol. The solution will produce a three-digit code, which is entered into a code ring, which spits out a card number. If you check the card, you will either get a big X (if you’re wrong) or a card that directs you to another card based on the key symbol (if you might be right). The object is technically to complete the game as quickly as possible and without using any clue cards (or using as few as possible). But really you’re just aiming for the satisfaction of your group completing the challenge – I feel like we had more of an accomplishment when we don’t get stuck and complete the game quickly, but I can’t say that getting more or fewer stars according to the game’s rating system has ever made me feel better or worse. In The Enchanted Forest (no spoilers), the puzzles involve a red plastic leaf, tiny pieces of furniture, a snowflake, a wishing well, dwarven seating arrangements, and an odd picture of Cinderella. The puzzles are, as usual, tightly calibrated and will work well for an entry level experience.
On the upside for Exit veterans, the fairy tale theme is distinctive in the series, which is more heavily populated with secret labs and haunted buildings. However, The Enchanted Forest might be best-suited for a newer player to the Exit series. Like The Stormy Flight, the puzzles in The Enchanted Forest are linear – you’re looking at one two-page spread in the booklet at a time, solving that puzzle, and then moving on to the next. Also like The Stormy Flight, The Enchanted Forest has the easiest rating Thames & Kosmos assigns (a two; none of the games has an assigned difficulty level of only one), and this is probably the single easiest of the Exit games. These might make the games entry points for those who don’t want a challenge their first time out, but overall they make The Enchanted Forest less satisfying for the veteran player than the typical Exit game. There just isn’t the same space for the designers to do some of the really clever bits they often do with the components, and the strictly linear nature of the puzzles makes the game feel less organic than usual (not that escape rooms games are the height of storytelling to begin with.
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