Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Fiends Will Love ‘Adventure Games’

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Fiends Will Love ‘Adventure Games’
Image: Kotaku Australia
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Thames & Kosmos is a board game publisher most known for its excellent Exit: The Game series, but it’s a lesser known franchise that I’ve recently fallen in love with. Adventure Games is a chill spin-off from Exit: The Game with no real time limit and an extra helping of creativity.

The basic principle is the same: you’re locked in a room and you need to find a way out. But the mechanics and story-building of this franchise is far more involving than Exit. If you’re a fan of the classic Choose Your Own Adventure books, this is the escape room game for you.

In The Dungeon, the primary Adventure Games title I played through, you and your mates get trapped in a magical dungeon with only a skeleton companion and half-cracked jail bars. To solve your way out of each room, you’ll need to investigate certain spots on the map and discover what each is hiding. Some give you items, while others reveal more about the story and where you’re trapped.

To survive the adventure, you’ll need to combine items (with other items and also locations) to come up with unique solutions. Each item and location is numbered, and has a corresponding ‘combo’ number in the adventure booklet which guides you on your journey. Even if you get solutions wrong, the booklet is so dense that you’ll usually unlock a new piece of narrative or clue no matter what you try.

There are also multiple solutions for some challenges, so you’re free to experiment and explore as much as you like. With no time limits, you can find every hidden secret, pathway and item along the way.

How easy is set-up?

Image: Kotaku Australia

This is the kind of game you’ll want to introduce to your friends. Not just because it’s easier to play with others, but also because it’s a genuinely exciting game with plenty to discover and chat about.

Teaching it is also extremely easy, and while the instruction booklet goes into detail about how the game works, it’s actually a very simple game. All players really need to know is this: on your turn, you can move to any location in a room and perform a single action (search or combine items). When you’ve decided on an action, you look up the corresponding number in the adventure booklet and resolve any effects you come across.

If you get a solution ‘wrong’ you’ll usually find a text string in the book that describes a negative outcome, like a player losing health. If you get it right, you’re able to unlock new items and travel to new rooms.

There are about 20 locations in The Dungeon which are explored over three distinct acts, so there’s a lot to uncover along the way. The game estimates each room will take about 90 minutes, but given there’s no real time limits you can sit back and take as long as you like. While it does mean the game can take between 5 and 8 hours to complete, the leisurely pace means people can drop in and out as they please.

For a simple adventure game you can play with anyone, Adventure Games is a great and easy-to-teach option.

How is it different from Exit: The Game?

The game shares basic principles with Exit: The Game, but gameplay is very different. Rather than having a ticking timer counting down to your doom, the game is far more chill and lets you explore the narrative as you wish. It’s also more story-focused and driven by its fantasy setting.

So while the basic mechanics are similar, Adventure Games is quite a different style of ‘escape room’ game. Personally, I think these games are more suited to party-style gameplay because they’re far less stressful and it’s easy to get everyone involved.

Image: Kotaku Australia

They’re also filled with challenges that feel a bit more logical than Exit: The Game. 

For this review, I was also provided copies of The Enchanted Forest and The Cemetery of the Knight (the latest releases from the Exit series) and I struggled far more with these. But The Dungeon remained fun throughout, and had some really interesting solutions that were fun to puzzle through.

The other great thing about the game is you don’t have to destroy pieces in Adventure Games (or at least, The Dungeon didn’t have any pieces that required it). It means that even though the games aren’t really replayable (because you solve the challenges as you go), you are able to pass them on to someone else when you’re done.

Basically, if you want a game that’s less stressful than Exit, but features much of the same style gameplay, you should absolutely give Adventure Games a go.

Final Verdict

The Dungeon was a real revelation for me.

While escape room games tend to focus on timing and stress, the switch towards more zen gameplay and the ability to explore as long as I wanted was a real positive. I also loved that the game was heavily focussed on narrative and story, because it meant every choice felt like it mattered.

While the game does tend to go on for a bit long, the journey is easy enough to drop in-and-out of, meaning you don’t have to commit to a larger session.

Really, the game’s just a whole bunch of fun and any board game fan will have a blast exploring every nook and cranny in the Adventure Games series.

Comments

  • Reading the review, the question of replayability was definitely on my mind. Thanks for having the answer to that with such clarity. It sounds interesting, and in a way also similar to the copy protection that they used to have in the old SSI Gold Box D&D games, where the limitations of PCs meant that large chunks of the text were in a separate book where you’d be sent to check specific journal entries for what was going on. And of course they had some fake ones in there too!

    • It’s definitely inspired by classic point and click adventures, and it works super well! But yes, no destroying cards which is great.

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