Exit games are an escape room in a box to play at home. You’ve probably seen them around; there are now many of them.
We played our first boxed escape room over Christmas a few years ago. I thought it was an excellent cooperative game to play as a family, solving puzzles together. That cooperation is crucial, in my opinion; there’s no board flipping like in Monopoly!
The Covid lockdowns naturally caused us to invest in more and more Exit escape rooms. They were the perfect way to fill an afternoon when we were forbidden from going out and socializing. We wanted something less merciless than another game of Patchwork.
With all the options, it might be hard to know which to go for! In this article, I’ll rank the best Exit games (and explain why I’ve put them in their various positions). There are lots more Exit games out there, so you know! I’ve selected what I consider to be the very best for this page.
Just to make things clear, I’ll be avoiding spoilers!
Best Exit Games at a Glance
I’d consider the three games listed below the best Exit games for different audiences. See what you think!
Best Overall Exit Game: Dead Man on the Orient Express
This is an escape room with a twist. Although it’s not the only mystery-based escape room by Exit, it’s by far the best.
The theming is fantastic, the murder feels solvable, and the puzzles are great overall. This has been our favorite Exit game to date! We enjoyed the additional mystery element to solve alongside the usuals.
Best First-Time Exit Game: The Abandoned Cabin
My friends and I usually recommend this one as the best Exit game to start off on. If we’re buying fellow board gamers a gift, it’s our go-to.
This was the first Exit game they ever released, and they really got it right. The puzzles feel fair and attainable. You’ll still have at least one or two Eureka moments, even when playing with a group of up to six.
The story is relatively simple. There are more intriguing plotlines out there, but it’s a good baseline for establishing the best difficulty rating for you.
There are more challenging games if you want to be stretched more. Alternatively, try a more linear puzzle if you don’t like looking back at previously-used resources.
Best Linear Exit Game: The Sunken Treasure
Linear escape rooms have a clear progression path. Unlock one door, and through you go – don’t worry too much about the puzzles or the room before.
These are more straightforward. They’re a good idea if you’re playing with someone who has never done any puzzle games before.
I was flip-flopping between The Sunken Treasure and The Enchanted Forest as a clear recommendation. Ultimately, it comes down to who you are playing with.
The Enchanted Forest is easier. It’s more suited to playing with children or people unfamiliar with escape rooms and puzzles.
The Sunken Treasure, however, while still simple, has satisfying puzzles with a couple of moments that make you appreciate how clever the games are. It has an engaging theme and is still tactile, using props to create and solve puzzles.
Criteria: What Makes an Exit Game Good?
Here are the criteria I’ve used to rank these Exit games.
- Puzzles – are they solvable? It’s the reason you’re doing the game in the first place. The puzzles have to feel attainable. I want them to be challenging, but I don’t want to need a rocket science degree!
- Theme – is it engaging? We like one that makes sense. Why would you be locked in a room with puzzles? There are few realistic possibilities. The theme can make all the difference: either you’re fully immersed in the story or just solving enigmas for the sake of it.
- Wow!-moments – I like those realizations that make you appreciate the intelligence of both the game and the creators. (And oneself, too, if one does say so oneself.) You would hope for a couple of these per Exit game. In other words, I’m looking for a puzzle that requires some deep thinking but is very satisfying to solve.
- Sustainability – one thing I’m less fond of with an Exit game is having to destroy it to solve the puzzles. I feel it’s a waste to play a game once and then chuck it into the recycling.
Best Exit Games Ranked From Worst to Best
A quick note: we haven’t yet finished The Sacred Temple or The Deserted Lighthouse, so I don’t feel able to rank them. However, we got them for Christmas, so I’m sure we’ll place them soon. Watch this space.
With that said, let’s get into my ranking of the best Exit games.
#25 The Cursed Labyrinth
2021; Difficulty: 2/5
The Cursed Labyrinth is, again, set in the grounds of a castle. You get stuck in a labyrinth as the gate blows shut behind you. Then a gargoyle appears – because Exit is nothing if not dramatic.
Ooph. I wasn’t a fan of this one. The puzzles were either too easy or too vague, and we started to become frustrated with them. You’ll get there, but there are no ‘wow’ moments and plenty of ‘sigh’ and ‘shrug’ expressions.
It’s still fun to some extent, but I’d definitely rank it as one of the weakest Exit games.
#24 The Polar Station
2017; Difficulty: 3/5
Polar Station is similar to the story of The Thing. You’re trapped in a science station in the Arctic. A mysterious black substance that reacts to human tissue has been discovered, altering a person when it attaches to them. Several tests have been set up, meaning only unaltered human logic can lead to escape.
So that sets the scene. You must escape from the ‘polar station’ before it’s blown up, eliminating that dangerous, unknown substance.
I’ve rated The Polar Station low down because a couple of puzzles at the start can result in hitting a brick wall. No one wants that right off the bat, and I found it kind of discouraging.
#23 The Haunted Roller Coaster
2019; Difficulty: 2/5
The story for this Exit game is, well, what it says on the box. A roller coaster in a theme park has some scary noises and monsters. You’re locked in and have to solve puzzles to escape. Of course.
Like I said, we prefer a more realistic story – why do I have to solve these puzzles? How would they really help me get out?
The Haunted Roller Coaster is a very linear mystery. That’s all fine if you like your Exit games to be very straightforward. Our primary issue was that the puzzles felt a little basic.
It’s absolutely fine to play as a first Exit game – but I think ‘fine’ sums it up, really.
#22 The Cemetery of the Knight
2020; Difficulty: 3/5
The Cemetery of the Knight is another treasure-hunting Exit game. This time, you’re looking through the Cemetery of the Knight on the one night in 87 years you might be able to access the crypt and take a ruby. How exciting.
Although it’s an enjoyable premise, I can’t help but feel that The Cemetery of the Knight takes some puzzles a little far. You’ll come across several that are just a bit too much, whereas others are rather simple. The inconsistency is unsettling.
In the end, when you solve something difficult, it’s more meaningful. But I wouldn’t recommend this one if you’re starting out with Exit games.
#21 The Forgotten Island
2017; Difficulty: 3/5
Sailing along, you are soon shipwrecked on an unknown island. One might call it ‘forgotten’. Oh no!
When you wake up, there’s no sign of your ship or belongings. All the items you come across are secured with locks, and you must solve the puzzles to escape the island.
My main problem here is the difficulty. It’s all over the place. Some puzzles are mindbogglingly easy, and then one or two seem overly complicated. You know those ones you just end up staring at for half an hour without blinking? Even with some Help cards, they can still be frustrating.
This had some significant jumps in thinking we weren’t a fan of.
#20 Nightfall Manor (+ Puzzle)
2022; Difficulty: 2/5
Nightfall Manor is based on the premise of finding your friend. He’s set off to find the lord of the manor, someone he’s always been telling stories about, but (no surprises here) he’s vanished. You must find him.
It’s a very similar format and style to The Sacred Temple, but the puzzle types aren’t repeated. As usual, Exit does a great job of making me feel ‘clever’, even though there’s nothing too complicated (the jigsaw puzzles are straightforward).
My only complaint is the booklet. It just doesn’t work too well, unfortunately.
#19 The Sacred Temple (+ Puzzle)
2021; Difficulty: 3.5/5
The Sacred Temple is the first jigsaw puzzle-based Exit game to come out. It’s about saving ‘the professor’ and finding the Sacred Temple before the treasure hunters. Set in the jungle, this brings an intriguing theme.
Although the jigsaw puzzles are relatively easy (aside from occasional lighting issues), we found the riddles challenging. Expect The Sacred Temple to take you a good two or three hours. It’s also not too child-friendly due to the complexity, although they could always help with the jigsaws.
I recommend avoiding this one until you’re more familiar with Exit games, but once you get there, it’s enjoyably complex. I struggled with the layout of some of the puzzles and wouldn’t consider it as good as its release partner, The Deserted Lighthouse.
#18 The Forbidden Castle
2017; Difficulty: 4/5
You’re going on vacation to a medieval castle this time, but nobody seems to be around. The door suddenly slams shut behind you when you walk into one room.
This one’s the third Exit game in the second series, and I can see some of the same problems cropping up. Logic jumps feel frustrating to me.
However, I ranked it higher than the others because the puzzles were more intricate. If you do manage to get the solution, it feels more satisfying.
#17 The Enchanted Forest
2020; Difficulty: 2/5
A walk through a wood takes a sudden strange and magical turn. You start to encounter fairytale characters and puzzles. Are you able to escape this peculiar wood?
This one’s a friendly and easy entry-level game. I recommend playing with your kids. Everything is reasonable, from the theming to the puzzle difficulties – although you might need a nudge here or there.
It may be too simple if you’ve completed some Exit games before.
#16 The Lord of the Rings – Shadows Over Middle-Earth
2022; Difficulty: 2/5
As a fan of both Lord of the Rings and escape rooms, I was excited to see this addition to the Exit franchise.
It’s a very linear puzzle – you turn the page after each puzzle, and there’s no need to return. The main focus is the story. You follow the fellowship and aid in the background, running through a story tangential to the main characters (a little like Middle Earth – The Third Age).
If you’re looking for a challenging escape room, this isn’t the one for you. However, if you have friends that really enjoy Lord of the Rings and you want to introduce them to escape rooms, this might be an in.
#15 The Gate Between Worlds
2021; Difficulty: 3/5
Coming up with all these new themes for Exit games must present an incredible challenge – but they’ve managed it again. On this occasion, you enter a magic cave and end up being teleported to a new world. You’re supposed to solve the riddles to find your way back.
This is a pretty standard game, with the only truly unique aspect coming with the maps of all the worlds you travel through. Don’t open these until instructed, of course.
In terms of difficulty, it shouldn’t take you quite as long as some of the other 3/5-rated games. Also, I’d recommend playing with no more than two others because the maps are tiny.
#14 The Mysterious Museum
2018; Difficulty: 2/5
This game follows on from The Sunken Treasure (see below). You are visiting a natural history museum to see the sunken treasure of Santa Marina when suddenly you’re trapped! Shock horror!
We liked the links and the follow-on from that original Exit game. The puzzles were reasonable and not too challenging – but more complex than others earlier on my list.
#13 The House of Riddles
2019; Difficulty: 2/5
This Exit game has a simple story. You’re invited to a house with other detectives, only to find yourself in an escape room-style game. You must solve the puzzles to get out of the house.
If you’ve done a few games by now, you will likely find this game reasonably straightforward, but it’s suitable for a new player. This one was good fun with some rather clever puzzles. By the end, I could see the amount of thought that had gone into each puzzle and how original each one was, even if there were patterns between a few.
#12 The Sinister Mansion
2018; Difficulty: 3/5
Once more, The Sinister Mansion has a simple theme and backstory. You’re invited as guests to a large mansion. On arrival, you find your host has locked you in.
I believe these are all meant to be part of the same storyline as The Forbidden Castle and The Abandoned Cabin, with the same person trapping you in various large buildings they somehow have access to… I guess we’re smart enough to solve these tricky puzzles but dumb enough to keep getting locked in anyway.
Anyway, this game contained one of my favorite puzzles in the franchise. It would be easy to overlook when glancing at the game’s materials. This particular puzzle aside, though, I mix it up with other installments. It tends to blend into the background – it isn’t too memorable.
#11 The Sunken Treasure
2018; Difficulty: 2/5
You are investigating a hint pointing towards sunken treasure off the coast of Santa Marina. All of a sudden, you find yourself trapped in a shipwreck and have to escape.
The Sunken Treasure is one of the best linear Exit games. I struggled to decide where to rank this one next to The Stormy Flight (below). Ultimately, I placed this one lower because it’s a bit simpler.
Although the difficulty is more straightforward than others, it has lots of engaging content and puzzles that even experienced players will enjoy and appreciate.
#10 The Stormy Flight
2020; Difficulty: 2/5
On this occasion, you’re crew members on a flight when you fly through an electrical storm. You must solve the puzzles to keep the plane on course without a crash landing.
Although there may be fewer major twists in this one, there’s a certain comfort to a consistent game with no huge rug pulls. It has some good thematic surprises rather than unexpected elements to individual puzzles. The story held my attention and was intriguing to play through.
#9 Theft on the Mississippi
2020; Difficulty: 3/5
This is an Exit game with an additional twist: there’s a whodunnit involved. You’re required to solve a mystery alongside the puzzles to progress: the theft of some invaluable documents.
The puzzles were tactile with a less linear style, and I relished this challenge. The reason it’s not higher is that some were a little misleading. You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve already played it through. Let’s just say I’m not big on red herrings…
#8 The Catacombs of Horror
2019; Difficulty: 4.5/5
Two Exit games in one box! What’s not to love?
The Catacombs of Horror has a solid theme and some really cool puzzles. Based in the catacombs below Paris, you’re searching for a friend that has mysteriously disappeared.
I found it to be an enjoyable game. That said, I can see how some might see it as a slog. It’s twice as long, and some puzzles are somewhat formidable.
There’s a pause point halfway through. Some people will find that’s a little unsatisfying; others will welcome the break, feeling burnt out by the previous puzzles.
#7 Kidnapped in Fortune City
2021; Difficulty: 3.5/5
Kidnapped in Fortune City. Now here’s an interesting one.
I particularly enjoyed the theming of this one. It’s set in a frontier town, and you’re tasked with finding Fortune City’s missing sheriff.
Uniquely, you’ll approach this game in the order of your choosing. You interrogate suspects in different buildings, but you can choose who you talk to you and when.
This mystery element mirrors Dead Man on the Orient Express and Theft on the Mississippi. In my opinion, these rank among the best, and Kidnapped in Fortune City is just as good.
It’s multi-layered, non-linear, and forces you to think hard, all set in an engaging plotline. I couldn’t recommend this one enough.
#6 The Deserted Lighthouse (+ Puzzle)
2021; Difficulty: 3/5
I really enjoy the theme for this one. You must reach the top of the lighthouse to warn an incoming ship of the rocks and save it. Now that’s an engaging story.
Like The Sacred Temple and the newer Nightfall Manor, The Deserted Lighthouse comes with four jigsaw puzzles and no riddle cards. However, we think it’s much better. The non-linear style makes you feel like you’re running up and down the stairs in a hurried search for answers and fits with the plot brilliantly.
This one’s up there with my favorites. A few puzzles will have you tearing your hair out, but it’s a manageable complexity level. Nothing too crazy.
#5 The Secret Lab
2017; Difficulty: 3.5/5
You are volunteering in a laboratory, but no one else is there when you arrive. A mysterious gas is released, and you start to feel dizzy.
When you come to, the door is locked, and you find instructions. These tell you to solve the presented puzzles to escape.
To me, this felt like a really balanced Exit game. We avoided using any Help cards, but we also didn’t zoom through the puzzles. They aren’t too easy or too tedious.
The puzzles are varied and allow everyone in your team to shine as different thinking techniques are utilized.
#4 The Return to the Abandoned Cabin
2022; Difficulty: 3/5
The Return to the Abandoned Cabin is a very clear nod to the original Exit game – The Abandoned Cabin. It’s an anniversary special.
You’re brought back to that cabin in the woods (the setting for the first game) by the police. Dr Arthur Funbeq, the evil guy who locked you in previously, has escaped from prison. By returning to the cabin, you’re looking for clues to capture him again.
I can’t help but love it for its nostalgia. If you enjoyed the original, I’m sure you’ll like this one. As a side note, ensure you’ve completed The Abandoned Cabin before doing this one. The game will lose something if you do it the other way around.
At the start, you’ll put a small 3D model of the cabin together. This is another exciting throwback.
This is definitely one of Exit’s best games. I’ve ranked it below The Abandoned Cabin purely because it’s dependent on it. Therefore, the original is still marginally better, in my opinion.
#3 The Abandoned Cabin
2017; Difficulty: 2.5/5
Ah yes. The classic. The Abandoned Cabin is the first Exit game released and also the first one we ever played.
The Abandoned Cabin brings balanced puzzles; as I mentioned, it’s always the one I recommend to people for their first go. I might look back with rose-tinted glasses, but I remember one puzzle in particular that made me wonder how they planned the game to such a detailed extent.
With fun twists along the way, I really enjoy this game. The only reason it isn’t ranked higher is you’ve all played it by now (probably) and are looking to find other, even better games. (Plus, I think the next two are absolutely outstanding!)
#2 The Pharaoh’s Tomb
2017; Difficulty: 4/5
Trapped in an Ancient Egyptian tomb? Yes, please.
The theming in this puzzle is something else. All the clues and props feel on point, and it’s very rewarding when you solve the puzzles. They’re challenging but fair, and a great introduction to more complicated Exit games as you gradually progress up the difficulty curve.
The decoder disc is original, and one of the puzzles toward the end felt so satisfying to solve.
#1 Dead Man on the Orient Express
2018; Difficulty: 4/5
Based on a train traveling from Paris to Constantinople on the famed Orient Express, there’s a murder between Sofia and Constantinople! A man traveling alone is discovered dead. While everyone seems to have an alibi, master detective Achilles Pussot (which I’m sure isn’t related to any other work by Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot) seems to have found clues leading toward a murder.
Unfortunately, Achilles has disappeared without a trace! You must now solve puzzles to unlock rooms to find clues. Hopefully, you’ll solve the case before the train arrives at Constantinople when the murderer can escape.
This game is delightful. The puzzles may take one or two attempts, but we never felt completely lost. It has a natural progression and makes you pay attention to every detail.
Although not recommended for an inexperienced player, I found this to be the most enjoyable Exit game I’ve ever played. I found the additional challenge of working out ‘whodunnit’ alongside the usual puzzles really fun and very satisfying.
We got the answer right, by the way, much to our delight. Did you?
Do you like escape rooms? Depending on your preferences, you’ll like any of the Exit games above. Ease yourself up the difficulty progression rather than make a huge jump. You’ll likely expect too much of yourself, leading to frustration and disappointment.
On the flip side, once you start plowing through more difficult Exit games, the easy-difficulty ones may seem basic. It might be worth knocking as many of those out early on if you’re a bit of a completionist.
At the end of the day, Dead Man on the Orient Express was the best Exit game I played, and I would implore any experienced players to take it up.
Let me know which games you enjoyed most or your times and scores for bragging rights.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What is the Most Complicated Exit Game?
Answer: The hardest Exit game is probably The Catacombs of Horror. It’s pretty long, and you’ll definitely be left frustrated!
Question: What is the Easiest Exit Game?
Answer: In my personal opinion, The Enchanted Forest is the easiest Exit game I’ve ever played. We steamed through it. I’d definitely recommend it for playing with your kids.
Question: Do Exit Games Come With Hints if you get Stuck?
Answer: Yes! All Exit games come with green Hint cards. They’ll give you a three-step reveal to an individual puzzle, helping you through. There’s no shame in using them!
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