Exit: The Catacombs of Fear - Review

Exit: The Catacombs of Fear - Review
Exit: The Catacombs of Fear is the new release of the table escape room series designed by Markus and Inka Brand, on this occasion in collaboration with Ralph Querfurth. This new adventure is divided into two parts, as it has a rather long duration, but thematically it is a unique story. The images used in this review show some of the game material, but there will be no spoilers about the puzzles or the progress of the plot.

The Exit: the game series

The Exit: the game series, published by Kosmos and localized in Italian by Giochi Uniti, is made up of escape room-style adventures based entirely on cards. The series debuted in 2016 and, BGG in hand, is currently in its eighteenth release. Each adventure is characterized by a different level of difficulty, varying from Beginner to Pro.

Each adventure in the series is characterized by the fact that it can be played literally only once: unlike other escape rooms or investigative games, in Exit components often need to be cut, bent or destroyed in other ways, making it impossible to lend or resell the box.

In addition, following the success of the series, Exit: the book has also been published. Diary 29, a Pro level adventure curated by Dimitris Chassapakis published in early 2020 (you can read our review here).

Exit: The Catacombs of Fear - The Story

Receive a letter from an archaeologist friend who is in trouble. The search for him led him to the catacombs of Paris, but something mysterious and frightening happened here. Your friend must have realized that something was wrong, so he wrote you to start the research if he no longer contacted you. And so it was. Now there is no time to waste: the boy is in danger, but he has left cryptic clues and there will be many mysteries that you will have to solve in order to save him. Are you brave enough to venture into the dungeons of the French capital, infested with dangers?

Exit: The Catacombs of Fear consists of two thematically linked parts, which can be played either later or separately according to the time you have available.

A nod to the components

A peculiar aspect of the Exit series are the game materials, which are always very varied and sometimes surprising. The heart of the game are the cards, which are divided into Enigma, Hint and Solution cards, as well as the decoder disk, iconic of the series, in which the codes for solving the puzzles are inserted. To this basic equipment is added further components, the mysterious elements, based on the adventure played. Exit: The Catacombs of Fear contains an element that I never, ever thought I'd find in a board game box: a candle! How to use it, it will be up to you to find out!

In addition to the material provided by the game, you must have paper, pen, scissors and a stopwatch, plus any other objects indicated in the rules.

How to play Exit

Like the other releases in the series, Exit: Catacombs of Fear is a card-based escape room game that, unlike other games in this genre, is completely analog: it does not need support of a mobile app, using a card-based system instead. Players, from 1 to 4, read the starting material that presents the adventure and take any Enigma cards indicated. Depending on the adventure chosen, you may have more or less material to view.

The Enigma cards are the heart of the game and you will have to find the solution in order to proceed with the adventure, revealing new parts of the plot . The puzzles are of various types and may require other material in addition to the cards for solving. You don't necessarily have all the material you need to solve a certain Enigma right away, so in some cases you need to wait and understand in what order you need to proceed.

The solution is always a three-digit number. When you think you have identified it, you will have to insert it in the decoder disk aligned with the corresponding symbol: in this way you will get a number that indicates which Solution card to draw. The Solution deck is large and contains two types of cards: some indicate that the code entered is incorrect, others that it may be correct. In the latter case, it is necessary to select the appropriate one from the options indicated; if everything is correct, the number of the next Solution will allow you to proceed in the adventure.

If you find yourself in difficulty, you can use the Hint cards. There are three for each proposed puzzle: the first offers a general suggestion, the second a more targeted help, while the third illustrates the solution to the puzzle.

At the end of the game you can fill out the final certificate. You will also get a star rating (from 1 to 10) based on the time taken and the number of clues used.


Exit: The Catacombs of Fear is the latest release of this series and we perceive the solid foundation on which these adventures, very well thought out, rest. The puzzles are very varied and always different, even between one adventure and another. The difficulty level is usually well ranked, so you can choose one that suits the experience of the game group.

This specific adventure is of an Advanced level and is divided into two parts as it is quite long: the rules indicate 2-4 hours. Pausing the game and resuming it at another time is simple and does not affect the gaming experience. The time when you can decide to stop is indicated by the cards. For each of the two parts it is better to think of at least an hour and a half, since in this adventure, unlike others, the stopwatch will not be triggered immediately, slightly lengthening the timing.

Keep in mind that the Exit series requires an intensive use of materials: you will have to write on them, cut them, manipulate them, in various ways, fold them ... it is an integral part of the game, necessary to be able to find the solution of the puzzles. If you don't appreciate altering materials, Exit the game is not the series for you!

Who it's for

Exit: Catacombs of Fear is for fans of the series Exit is typically boardroom escape room and logic and deduction games, as well as experienced solvers. Due to the Advanced difficulty level, it is not recommended as a first table escape room experience. If you are a beginner, we recommend that you try at least one Beginner level Exit before testing yourself with this one.

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