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Thames & Kosmos - "Exit The Game - The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes"


Photo above is property of Thames & Kosmos

Company: Thames & Kosmos

Game: Exit The Game - The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes

Country: USA 🇺🇸

Language: English

Type of Game: Tabletop Games 📬

Genre: Mystery

Date Played: October 21, 2023

Difficulty (based on 2 players): 7/10

Size of Team: Unlimited (Recommended 1-4 Players (Ages 12+)

Time: Approximatley 1-2 Hrs.

Price: $15.81



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The legendary detective Sherlock Holmes has been framed for murder and forced into hiding, leaving his assistant, Dr. John Watson, to find the real culprit and exonerate his dear friend and mentor before all is lost. To this end, Watson has hired you to help. Do you have what it takes to catch the real criminal mastermind? Or will Holmes forever be guilty of murder in the eyes of the public?

Video above is property of Thames & Kosmos


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In addition to the instruction booklet and decoder wheel typical of Exit games,"The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes" features a number of fold-out location scenes that serve as the staging grounds for the mystery. Each scene is pretty well realized, contributing to an overall feeling of a sprawling investigation across the whole of London. Some punch out and cut out props are included as well. All materials are paper, with the exception of a few wooden dowels used in one puzzle.

Photo above is property of Thames & Kosmos


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Everything you need to play the game is included in the box. You will need to cut, fold, tear, and draw on the pieces, so they can only be used once. Each step of the game involves reading some written story for context, after which you will be directed to some of the puzzle elements on the table. Solutions can be checked via a decoder wheel. Input your answer (always a three digit code) to be directed to an answer card. Guess correctly, and you’ll be given instructions to move the story along. Multiple hint cards per puzzle are available if you need them. The game booklet contains instructions for calculating your score based on how long you took and how many hints you used, or you can use the free helper app to calculate your score faster (and add some music and ambiance to the experience).

Photo above is property of Thames & Kosmos


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The puzzles involved a mixture of followed instructions, careful observation of clues, and a few deductions. You will need to fold and cut some of the clues along the way. Some puzzles are built up over time as more and more pieces are added, which had the effect of confusing us a good deal about which puzzles we had all the information for, and which were only in their first stages. The result felt like a spiraling series of crime scenes and witness testimonies that matched the narrative, but didn’t lead to the smoothest game flow. Small details matter a lot, though it’s not always clear which are important and which are decorations. Which reached for a lot more hints than we would have liked to find these small clues, and the process wasn’t terribly satisfying.


Some puzzles had very clever prop implementation, including one that involved making a small diorama of a crime scene and tracing the flight paths of several bullets. However, more often the props didn’t function as intended. One particularly egregious puzzle asked the player to manually build a spinner wheel from paper, then spin it fast enough to produce an optical illusion. Ours didn’t spin at all, and we wound up very frustrated with this and several other puzzles.

Photo above is property of ESCAPETHEROOMers


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I’m a little skeptical of the idea of boxed escape-style puzzles in the first place, but the medium has surprised me before with some unique, outside-the-box solutions that are fun and satisfying to solve. While “The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes” had a couple of these moments for me, more frequently I was just fumbling with props that were being pushed far beyond what could reasonably be achieved with the pieces provided. My team considered at least two of the puzzles outright broken, while others just weren’t very fun to interact with. In this case, the frustration of dealing with bad puzzles made it hard to enjoy the good ones, and there weren’t enough redeeming qualities for me to consider it worth recommending this kit to others. I’m not ready to swear off all escape kits, and I’ve had better experiences with Thames & Kosmos products before, but this particular kit didn’t do it for me.

 

Check out our interview with the creators to understand more on the development side of the game:

Video above is property of ESCAPETHEROOMers

(If you do decide to try this game, give us a shoutout or tag us on social media so we know you heard it from "ESCAPETHEROOMers"!)


Disclosure: We thank Thames & Kosmos for providing us with samples of the game. Although a complimentary experience was generously provided, it does not impact our opinion on the review whatsoever.


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