Room-in-a-box, Jul 2021
EXIT’s puzzle games are endlessly creative within a very tightly defined format, and while the difficulty level and theming vary, once you’ve played one you know what you’ll get from another. Except that The Sacred Temple takes the range in a whole new direction, by adding in jigsaws as part of the game, not as a brief novelty but as a core part of how it’s played.
There are four separate jigsaws in the box, each separately bagged and with a different printed pattern on the back so they don’t get accidentally jumbled together. Each puzzle consists of 88 pieces, so not entirely trivial to put together – depending on your solving speed, you may spend as much time assembling jigsaws as solving the puzzles themselves. Since this has roughly the same number of puzzles as a ‘normal’ EXIT game, that also gives this a longer play time.
I did wonder whether the jigsaws would simply replace the illustrated booklet that other games in the series have. The changes are a bit deeper than that, though. There is still a decoder wheel with which to check answers, but there are no cards at all. Instead there is a series of mini booklet-like papers: if your answer code matches one, then you unfold it to confirm your answer and get the next set of clues, along with a piece of story text and sometimes instructions to start on the next jigsaw.
Those structural differences aside, the puzzles here are very much of a kind with what I’ve come to expect from EXIT: various imaginative and sometimes slightly torturous ways of driving a set of three digits, sometimes a little obscure, sometimes physically ingenious. The use of the jigsaws allows for some welcome novelty, and also means somewhat more emphasis on searching within images; the main constraint on the series’s puzzles is as ever the need to have everything resolve to a three symbol combination. There’s also less need to destroy the game components while playing, though you are still expected to cut things up in a couple of places.
Ultimately this didn’t feel like a whole new game format – more like playing one of the familiar EXIT games with periodic pauses to assemble jigsaws. But I like the series, and enjoyed doing the jigsaws, so that was fine by me. You pay more for a larger box and a longer game, and my feeling was that the whole was exactly equal to the sum of the parts: that is, you’re getting an EXIT game plus some jigsaws. If you like both those elements, it’s a safe bet you’ll like this.