Review of the Thames & Kosmos EXIT Advent Calendar
We put the Thames & Kosmos EXIT Advent Calendar through its paces and share our thoughts on this escape room style Christmas countdown.
Straight up we’ll tell you this is one of our favourite advent calendars of all time! If you enjoy solving riddles and have any interest in escape rooms or enjoyed those “what happens next” story books as a child, this advent calendar is for you! We cannot recommend it enough.
As the whole point of the advent calendar is to solve its mystery over the course of the Christmas Countdown, we’ll explain the concept below and give you pointers on what we like and what to bear in mind. However, we will intentionally avoid anything which could ruin the surprises ahead. So please read on without fear of spoilers!
The lack of spoilers has been made easier by the fact that my son won’t actually let me start this year’s calendar until December 1st – he’s been looking forward to it all year – so this review is based partly on last year’s calendar and on physical review of this year’s calendar to establish the format is similar. If you decide to join in the escape room fun, do comment below as we can play along together 😊
We were kindly gifted the 2023 advent calendar for the purpose of review (2022’s calendar was our own purchase). The opinions below are all our own.
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What Is The EXIT Advent Calendar?
It’s essentially a home escape room style challenge, spread across 24 days. This advent calendar has no numbers, just codes. Each day, you solve a puzzle (riddle, not jigsaw!) to find out the code for the next day’s door.
How Does It Work?
Each day there’s a riddle to solve which reveals a code that’ll match one of the doors on the box, ready for the next day. And so on.
Upon opening the advent calendar, you’ll find three loose items tucked inside, as well as calendar itself of daily doors:
- The Help Book & Game Instructions – This is the start point! It’ll help you get going on December 1st and then provides optional hints for each day’s puzzle. There are two hints available each day, as well as an explanation of the solution. So, you’ll never get stuck not being able to move on. Each stage of the clues can be neatly folded over in turn to avoid you accidentally seeing the next – a clever and thoughtful design.
- The Story Book – As with all good escape room games, there is a storyline backdrop, a chapter of which you’ll read each day. We found last year’s storyline to be of secondary interest to the puzzles themselves. But it did mean we understood from the outset what the overall aim of the calendar would be and gave a nice framework for each day’s puzzle. Of course, often the storyline contained vital information!
- The Decoder – This needs to be constructed and you’ll find out how on the first day. The solved riddle each day results in a number. With the help of the decoder, this number transforms into a pictorial code which can then be matched to a door on the calendar. It sounds a little complicated but, trust us, by day 2-3 you’ll have it completely sussed and be loving this extra step in the escape room challenge.
Thames & Kosmos have huge amounts of experience creating home escape room puzzles with their fabulous EXIT: The Game series. And they’ve clearly put this wealth of knowledge to good use in the creation of the advent calendar.
We were so impressed with the level of thought and attention to detail included in the daily riddles, and the support alongside. There was a clear path to follow throughout so we always knew what to do next.
Who Will Enjoy This EXIT Advent Calendar?
Anyone who enjoys riddles and escape room style puzzles is sure to enjoy this Advent Calendar. It’s ideal family entertainment for the Christmas countdown. We think that there’s just the right balance of riddle challenge and good fun, perfect for this time of year.
It’s a great advent calendar to enjoy as a small group, ideal for housemates, work colleagues, or a family. 2-3 people is the best number of participants, and you’ll likely want to keep the group the same throughout if you can. You could stretch to four people but for everyone to join in, it needs to be a small enough group to read and study the information provided together. One person alone may find they get stuck a little more frequently as bouncing ideas off others is always helpful.
What Age Is The Calendar Suitable For?
The manufacturer’s guidelines are 10+. It’ll depend on the interest of the child and their threshold for lateral and logical thinking as to when they are ready to get involved in this sort of advent calendar challenge. In our opinion, 10 may be a touch on the young side for most children but certainly by 12/13 they will be more than able to get involved.
We think this is a perfect calendar for a teen and beyond. My then-14-year-old and I did it together last year and it was simply the perfect project! We have gifted copies to people & families of all ages this year!
Is It Worth Buying This Calendar If I Did Last Year’s?
In a word, yes! My son has done extensive research on this very subject!! This is the third edition of the EXIT advent calendar and the 2021 version had a completely different storyline and set of puzzles from that in 2022.
So, whilst the concept in its wider form will remain familiar, the game itself is completely different – just like when you buy another escape room style puzzle from the same brand.
Both the 2021 (The Mystery of the Ice Cave) and 2022 (The Hunt for the Golden Book) calendars are still available if you wanted to extend the fun the whole way through winter with January and February calendars too! 😉
Points To Bear In Mind With This Advent Calendar
A few things we noted as we explored the advent calendar and may be worth you considering:
It’s A Game – There Are Not Treats
This is not a calendar that gives you daily treats (or indeed any treats). There is a ‘prize’ at the end but really, it’s just the pride of completion. The ‘treat’ is in the daily entertainment.
Allow Time For Most Enjoyment
The daily riddle can vary tremendously in time taken, depending on when the lightbulb moment hits! Obviously, you can control this to a certain extent by how readily you use the clues. However, this calendar benefits from setting aside an allocated timeslot each day to enjoy it. Just something to bear in mind, especially if you are a before school/work calendar-opening group!
Not Particularly Christmassy
The story line has a loose Christmas theme. However, this is not a particularly Christmassy advent calendar. So if you’re looking for something to really get you in the festive spirit, this may not be it (unless festive to you simply means family fun, in which case, it’s spot on!)
It says on the box and in the instructions but make sure you KEEP everything as items may be useful later. This is not a calendar you’ll want bashed around or in easy reach of young children or pets! It has been carefully designed to be enjoyed – completely, and in the right order!
I’m An Escape Room Veteran – Will It Be Too Easy?
The calendar is positioned as a Level Beginner calendar so perhaps those very experienced with EXIT: The Game challenges may find it a little on the tame side. However, we would count ourselves as well versed in the escape room world and we thought there was a nice mix of complexity (and we had to resort to the hints on more than one occasion).
Plus, remember this is an advent calendar so just meant to provide a few minutes each day not a killer conundrum that occupies every waking hour!
I’m An Escape Room Novice – Will It Be Too Hard?
As mentioned above the calendar is positioned as Level Beginner. It takes a little time to get used to the style of riddle solving in an escape room style game – where you hunt for the pieces of the puzzle rather than solving a spelt-out problem.
But Thames & Kosmos provide comprehensive instructions and plenty of clues so you will always have a path to follow and, within the first few days, you’ll have got the measure of it.
We think this is a great introduction to escape room games as it’s fed to you piecemeal so there’s less of the total bewilderment that can happen at the beginning of a full game. Plus, you’re only solving one puzzle at a time so it’s bitesize rather than the time investment of a longer game in one go.
Overall, we LOVED it! We would highly recommend this calendar to anyone who enjoys these kinds of games. One of the most fun and unusual calendars we have come across.
What We Think You’ll Like:
- Fabulously interactive, family fun entertainment – a great shared Christmas countdown project.
- Bitesize escape room style challenges make for daily fun rather than needing a large chunk of time for a whole game.
- Impressive construction of the game to created layered puzzles each day.
- Great setup with fold-over iterative clues available to assist if needed.
Things To Bear In Mind:
- Suitable for those who love conundrums / riddles / escape rooms. If they are not your bag, this is probably not the calendar for you.
- You’ll need to set aside some time each day to complete the puzzle.
- Don’t throw anything away and look after the calendar throughout!
Looking for more advent calendar inspiration?
- More Advent Calendar Ideas For The Whole Family
- 15 hilarious original Christmas Taskmaster ideas to try with your friends & family
- Try our Christmas Wordle Challenge!
And be sure to check out our guide to 300+ advent calendar filler ideas – there’s something for everyone!