What's Eric Playing? #298: The Sinister Mansion
Full disclosure: A review copy of EXIT: The Sinister Mansion was provided by KOSMOS.
Another week, and more EXIT games! I’m really excited about talking more about these — we’re getting close to being able to do a definitive ranking of them, once I get through these next four. Or, at least, I’ll be another step closer, which is exciting. The latest set is this, The Pharaoh’s Tomb, The Forbidden Castle, and The Forgotten Island. Let’s check those out over the next few weeks?
Well, in EXIT: The Sinister Mansion, you’re once again trapped inside a strange part of town. Weirdly enough, it was the spooky mansion right next to your house. Maybe it lowered the property value or you just never bothered thinking about the creepy abandoned house before you started your expensive habit of getting locked into things. But here you are, now, locked in again. Will you be able to escape these haunted halls? Or will this mansion finally be the time that whoever keeps locking you in things finally succeeds?
As usual set out the Answer Cards, Hint Cards (in their own stacks, of course), and the Riddle Cards. You’ll find a mysterious Guestbook, but beyond that you can leave everything else in the box. Except, for, well, you know, the disk:
That’s about it. Get ready, read the intro text, and you’re ready to begin!
As with the other EXIT games, you’re trapped in … somewhere. A mansion, this time. And you’d prefer to get out because, well, it’s not really fun to be trapped places. Thankfully, you have plenty of clues to get yourselves out. In general, you should have paper, pens, and maybe a pair of scissors, to play.
Find Riddle Cards, use them with the disk to reveal Answer Cards. Find correct answers to get more riddles. Solve them all if you want to escape!
If you’re stuck, you can also use the Hint Cards for help. They count against your overall score, but only if they tell you new information. Sometimes they’re just useful to make sure you’re doing the right thing. Use them!
PLAYER COUNT DIFFERENCES
I still really think two or three is about ideal, for these, and this one’s no exception. With one, I have the same problem I normally have with cooperative games played solo; I’m occasionally not very smart and it’s nice to have someone who checks my math. With four, though, I feel like you’d always have someone sitting around waiting to do something. I’ve tried this one at two, and it was solid! We both had stuff to do and were keeping a good pace. I’m pretty sure two or three is about ideal, for me.
You’ll have to figure this one out for yourself.
PROS, MEHS, AND CONS
As usual, the general pros, mehs, and cons apply; I like the EXIT games a lot, by default, so I’m mostly using this space to talk about this specific one, rather than the EXIT games as a framework.
I really liked one of the puzzles. It’s definitely an interesting perspective on how to implement a puzzle game in a box, even relative to the other EXIT games I’ve played. Some of the other puzzles were very good, as well, but this one in particular was a hoot.
I did appreciate the lead-in story. It was humorous, though if it was a SAW reference it was mostly lost on me. How do you not know if you have neighbors or not?
Didn’t feel especially thematic. It was a bit more “spooky house” than “haunted house”, sort of Gone Home instead of Betrayal at House on the Hill, if I’m allowed to mix board games and video games. My co-player noted that she wished it had been a bit spookier.
The required dexterity component for one of the puzzles is frustrating. The component used for the puzzle isn’t quite suitable for the task, and it requires a skill that players may not necessarily be good at. It’s perfectly possible for you to figure out what you need to do to solve the puzzle but have to look at the answer anyways so that you can get the code from it. I think that’s kind of a failed state for a puzzle, and I was disappointed by this one.
We got knocked off track by the first puzzle and it set a really bad tone for the rest of the game. I think there’s a piece of it that’s non-obvious and kind of unintuitive, but I think that may just be a severe player error. It threw us off and definitely set kind of a bad mood for the whole experience. Wouldn’t recommend that one, but would highly recommend remembering to use Clue Cards if you feel stuck, even early. The problem is, using an early Clue Card also kind of feels bad, so, no real winning moves.
OVERALL: 6.75 / 10
Overall, EXIT: The Sinister Mansion isn’t bad; I think we may have had a slightly anomalous experience with it, but I also felt like there wasn’t quite as much scaffolding as I would have liked to prevent the experience running a bit off the rails. That said, one bad puzzle experience a disaster does not make, and generally I enjoyed the puzzles in this set a fair bit. I think I just would have liked the puzzle we got stuck on moved a bit closer to the end; that way, we’d’ve been kind of warmed up. Maybe we’re just a bit rusty; the latest EXIT we played (as of writing) went super well. Either way, if you’re down to escape from a spooky mansion or if you, like me, have an overwhelming completionist urge with regards to the EXIT series, The Sinister Mansion may be a solid fit for an evening of play!
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