Designer: Inka Brand, Markus Brand
Artist: Silvia Christoph, Michaela Kienle, Claus Stephan
Category: Puzzle, Cooperative Play
Price: $12.43 Amazon.com
Continuing my series of mini-reviews of EXIT: The Game season 3, Dead Man on the Orient Express is quite a bit tougher than many others in the series. Though the theme involves murder, the imagery is not gory or graphic.
EXIT: Dead Man on the Orient Express is a whodunit mystery mixed with an escape room. After a detective goes missing during a murder investigation, it is up to the players to crack the unfinished case.
Right off the bat, we knew this one was going to be tricky, and it did not disappoint.
Unlike The Mysterious Museum, the game book in Dead Man on the Orient Express does not progress page by page; instead, players have access to the whole book all the time. This adds an extra layer of difficulty, as it’s up to them to figure out which clues go with which challenges. (Personally, I prefer this non-linear style, since it adds to the overall puzzly-ness.) In a slight narrative arc, additional locations will also be revealed as time goes on.
Given that the theme is a murder mystery, it shouldn’t be too much of a spoiler to say that players are asked to deduce who did the terrible deed at the end. The book includes a list of possible suspects and their alibis, so players must use what they uncover during the game to figure out who is lying. This added challenge gives the game a nice finale that sets it apart from other EXIT titles. (Even though our group accused the wrong person, we still had a ton of fun weighing the clues against the characters’ testimonies. It made the experience feel, appropriately, like a deduction game.)
Most EXIT games have a particular puzzle that will make players’ jaws drop. All the ones in Dead Man on the Orient Express are clever and enjoyable, but no single puzzle blew my mind the way *those* ones in The Abandoned Cabin, The Pharaoh’s Tomb, or The Mysterious Museum did. (This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the experience, however; just don’t expect to have any table-flip moments if you play this one.)
While I have not played every single EXIT game to date, of the six I have played, Dead Man on the Orient Express was easily the hardest. The theme comes through very strongly – more so than in other games from the series – enough that players will feel the weight and significance of their decision as they determine which suspect to accuse at the end. As my group was deliberating, I found myself getting really invested, thinking, “we have to guess right, or else the murderer will get away with it!” It’s always a major plus for me when a game draws me into its world, and this one did that quite well.
If you are looking for a tough, immersive escape room challenge, this is a great one to try.
A review copy was provided by KOSMOS.
The Bottom Line
Dead Man on the Orient Express is awesome, one of the best EXIT games to date.