Welcome aboard the River Queen! The year is 1872, and you’re an investigator traveling down the Mississippi River via steamboat, on your way to solve a case in New Orleans. But before you can arrive, someone on board steals a very valuable suitcase, and it’s up to you (and your team) to figure out who did it. 

This is the premise of Theft on the Mississippi, the newest entry in Thames & KosmosEXIT series — puzzle-based, escape-the-room style games that can be played solo or cooperatively by a team of up to four people.

Each EXIT game has a different difficulty and age rating, and this one earned a 3/5 difficulty score and is recommended for players ages 12 and up. That being said, this title may not be the perfect choice for a first-time EXIT player. An easier title in the series may help teach you the general mechanics of the game before moving on to this title’s more challenging puzzles. (But at only $15 each, it’s easy to get more than one!)

Instead of just an escape-the-room gameplay pattern, Theft on the Mississipi adds a “Who done it?” mystery-solving aspect, similar to the previous EXIT game Dead Man on the Orient Express.

To move through the Theft on the Mississippi (no spoilers, don’t worry), players have to interview eight different people in the boat’s bar area to get their stories about the crime — but you have to solve a puzzle before each witness will tell you what they know. Players figure out each person’s whereabouts at the time of the theft and keep track using an included poster and suspect tokens.

The game has something to offer all different types of puzzlers, as some challenges are word and logic-based riddles, while others require you to manipulate, cut, and fold elements of the game (one hint: don’t throw anything away before you play).

As you move through the game, you do have some options if you are having a hard time solving the puzzles. There are help cards available to nudge you in the right direction, and the free Kosmos Helper app provides an optional tutorial video and timer.

In the end, once you have talked to all the suspects and solved the crime, you earn a score of up to 10 stars, based on how long it took to complete the game and how many help cards you use.

Related: 7 Must-Have Mystery Games for 2020

Overall, this game is a great, affordable option for killing time (up to one or two hours) while using your brain and feeling a sense of accomplishment. It’s perfect for families who are staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, or for any rainy day that keeps you inside this summer.

One important note, however, is that this is a one-time-only game. Because you write on and manipulate the game pieces, you can’t replay it. However, there are 14 other EXIT: The Game titles available on Amazon, so you can keep the fun going!

Image source: Thames & Kosmos/The Toy Insider