The Exit games by Inka and Markus Brand are still very popular: The first series just won the German 'Kennerspiel des Jahres' prize and the third series just came out for Essen 2017 (in German, but an English translation is very likely, given the success of the EXIT games).
The EXIT games
In a way, all Exit games work exactly the same way: There are always about 10 puzzles to solve, they always have three-digit (or three-symbol) answers which have to be entered into a spinning code dial (like the one from the Monkey Island video games back in the day) and then some solution card tells the group whether they solved a particular riddle or whether they should keep trying. When you are stuck, a hint system consisting of three cards per riddle, the last one being the solution, can help you to get back on track.
Das Haus der Rätsel
This very Exit game here, Haus der Rätsel, is a bit special for two reasons though: Firstly, it is the first Exit game with a popular theme (in this case the three investigators, which is very popular with children in Germany) and it is one of the first two games with a beginners difficulty rating (all earlier installments were rated intermediate or professional; the other beginners title of season 3 is 'Der versunkene Schatz'). As such, the title is definitely marketed towards a somewhat younger audience than the other Exit titles. In this review, I want to focus on the differences to other Exit titles. If you want to find out about the series in general, there are a lot of great reviews in the game pages, in particular of Season 1.
How is this easier?
One obvious way in which this game is easier than the others is its linearity: In the other Exit games, you started by opening the story book and had to find out first which puzzle was already solvable with the information available. Here, the puzzles are solved in a very linear order: You are only allowed to look at the first double page of the book, and only after solving the riddle on this page you are allowed to flip the page and solve the next riddle. There is never too much information available and sometimes the instructions are extremely clear so that experienced Exit players will find the way to solve the riddle within seconds. Still, some puzzles are quite clever and in particular extremely fun, even when you know how to solve them. I won't go into detail much because this would spoil the experience but we definitely had to laugh a lot with one of the puzzles in particular. One minor thing which makes this game more accessible is the order in which cards are revealed: In the other titles, you always had to search for specific letters from the pile. In here, the riddle cards are taken in order, which makes the bureaucracy of the game less confusing.
What about the theme?
The theme of the game is nicely implemented as well: The story is that the three investigators invited you to their home, but when you arrive and enter the house, all doors lock and you have to find them. There are a lot of flavour texts throughout the game: Whenever you open one of the large doors (i.e. when you flip a page of the book) , a page of text explains the new situation, introduces the new puzzle and makes for some spooky (but not too spooky) atmosphere. All in all, this story aspect is very well done and in my opinion better than in the other Exit games, which have a bit of an exchangeable story.
In Summary, you should get this game if you liked the three investigators when you were younger or if you don't mind easier, sometimes a bit silly puzzles. And you should definitely get this game if you want to have a great time with your family, including children. The publisher recommends an age of 10+ (compared to 12+ for the other Exit games) but because this is a team game, some younger children could also participate if they have the patience. I would say that children who know the alphabet and numbers and can spell words can already help solving about two thirds of the riddles. It is also helpful to be able to read a (digital) watch.
Unfortunately, my one main complaint with the Exit series is still apparent here: The game wants you to destroy your copy. To me, this is not very eco-friendly and also only a way to artificially sell more products. The games are so great, it just feels good to give them to another person so that they can enjoy the game as well. Like all the other games, this one can also be played non-destructively by photocopying the material as soon as you feel that you need to destroy it. I wholeheartedly recommend you to do so, but I know that some people actually like the aspect of permanently destroying their game, so do this the way you prefer it.
There's a theory: if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There's another theory: this has already happened.
I pretty much agree with this review and found that I could play this well with my 7yo who likes both riddles and the three investigators. I had to help a bit on some puzzles, but some puzzles she could do on her own.
We were able to play this non-destructively. It's easier here than for other EXIT games I have played.
with a popular theme (in this case the three investigators, which is very popular with children in Germany)
Let me add that the three investigators are also popular with a lot of adults that were kids in the German eighties. Episodes of the radio plays are even rated by how much they help you find to sleep at night.
I'd really like to see this make it to an English version. I really liked the 3 Investigators when I was growing up. Sadly, we only got 2 radio plays and 2 movies based on the books in English. It just didn't stay popular in the US when it took off in Germany.