Brickscape

Published by 5minLab.  I played this on android.

The Short:  A small treasure. Seal of Goodness

Recommended if you like prisms, rotating around a fixed axis, the Wes Anderson aesthetic

Description: Brickscape is not technically an escape game. It is purely a geometric puzzle environment complete with a seemingly infinite number of levels and soothing, cool music. This game only features puzzling related to unlocking prisms in a closed system. This is a fairly typical puzzling variety. You can find brick puzzles in many other,  full fledged escape games. It will usually be included as a small obstacle to unlocking a door or a box in order to move on to the next level. So if you feel like you need some practice with brick puzzles in general, Brickscape is a very rewarding place to start.

On an aesthetic level, Brickscape is a perfect game. The interface is nothing short of lovely. It’s smooth, intuitive and elegantly simple. The blocks themselves are pretty and the scoring system is streamlined. This game strongly reminded me of other well-made, purely puzzling worlds like Mekorama, Cryptica, and What’s Inside the Box?. I did miss a sense of narrative or storytelling but that’s not really a complaint. I highly recommend this game.

Difficulty: Easy to start. Progressively harder. 
Difficulty Elements:
ok cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity | typical solves

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Weird Escape

Published by Tengeri Games.  I played this on android.

The Short: Weird but not like, that weird.

Recommended if you like Edward Gorey, ink blots, German expressionsism

Description: I didn’t care for this game but I do have some nice things to say about it. Weird Escape is a very curious creation. First off, the artwork is wonderful. Stylistically we are in the world of pen & ink horror not unlike Edward Gorey’s famed Gothic creations or Franz Kafka’s lesser-known scribblings. So, kudos to the designer, who I believe is named Jenki G.

Speaking fairly,  Weird Escape is actually an extremely good version of a Doors Galore. It might even be the only good version of a Doors Galore that’s ever existed! Doors Galores tend to be the most ill-designed, scornful things you can find, whereas Weird Escape is definitely a beloved child born to a nurturing family. I guess it’s as the saying goes, “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

Still, this game is not too exciting. Objectively, Weird Escape just doesn’t have good puzzling going on. It’s very simplistic, with one trick per door, and the drawings themselves, while cool, do not extend into any animation territory. Everything is perfectly static.  The short puzzle chains are also standard issue puzzle varieties that can be found in almost every other room escape you’ve ever tried. So, despite the name, Weird Escape really isn’t all that weird. Still, this was a memorable experience.

Difficulty: Easy
Difficulty Elements: 
very little cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity | typical solves

Beard

Published by Atami-Lab.  I played this on android. Seal of Goodness

The Short: Beards figure prominently in this manly excursion.

Recommended if you like tilted frames, Dexter’s Laboratory, hair pomade

Description:  At this point, friends, I have played too many escape games. Lately, it’s hard for me to find a fresh, interesting escape to spend my time on. Visits to the Google Play store are monotonous swipe sessions of games I have already played (or skipped). Given that background, Beard was welcome nectar in a drought!

Beard is a stellar game. It has good puzzle quality and really fun, special artwork. You are situated in a house replete with manly statues, portraits and curious contraptions. Decode the many references in this jocular home to unlock the secret of the beards. The difficulty hovers between Easy and Medium. I would argue that the funny little machines add a degree of difficulty because they have esoteric interfaces. Besides that fact, though, this game is breezy.  There’s even a few translation goof ups (“pictures flames“?) to make it all that much more charming.

I have one small complaint about though. There is no item labeling in Beard and I do think some was in order. In a few cases, the hyper stylized artwork obscured some of the objects’ meanings.

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Difficulty: Medium
Difficulty Elements:
good cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | no Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

Coming soon! Rusty Lake Paradise ($)

The Short: Rejoice! Another surreal piece of storytelling is coming your way, courtesy of a very bizarre Dutch studio.  

Description: Few can resist the hypnotic pull of Cube Escape, the celebrated art horror series created by publisher Rusty Lake. Both frightening and comical, beautiful and strange, Rusty Lake never shies away from making memorable experiences. Their newest game, Paradise promises to be a superb addition to this awesome collection of escape games. The premise, as quoted from their launch announcement page:

“Rusty Lake Paradise is set on a small remote island in the 18th Century. After your mother passed away the island seems to be cursed with the 10 plagues. It’s your job to go around the island, interact with your family and help them vanquish the plague. The game offers ominous situations and bizarre rituals. Paradise builds upon the distinctive atmosphere and excitement from the Rusty Lake series. For the background graphics we collaborated with a well-known Dutch artist, Johan Scherft.”

The game is expected to be released in Q4 of 2017. So, any day now!

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Coming Soon! The Room 4: Old Sins

Published by Fireproof games.  Not yet released!

The Short: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fireproof Games has announced a fourth game in their popular series, The Room. The release date is a bit vague, although imminent, “fourth quarter of 2017.” Fireproof plans to release the game on ios first and a bit later on android so us little green robots may be waiting until after Christmas to get our mitts on this. In the meantime, there’s a fun freebie from the publisher: a downloadable tarot card deck that mimics the set found in The Room 2. 

In an interview with one of designers, Barry Meade noted that Old Sins is something of a brand new story line with new characters. Still it’s all situated in the same mythological world as the previous three. Here’s a brief premise overview from their website:

The sudden disappearance of an ambitious engineer and his high-society wife provokes the hunt for a precious artefact. The trail leads to the attic of their deserted home, and the discovery of an old, peculiar dollhouse…Experience The Room: Old Sins and explore unsettling locations, follow obscure clues and manipulate bizarre artefacts on a journey into the world behind the veil.”

I’ve got two photos and this teaser video from the Rezzed gaming conference back in April. That’s all for now, folks!

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Faraway Puzzle Escape ($)

Published by snapbreak. I played this on android. Seal of Goodness

The Short: Despite their age, mysterious ruins never get old.

Recommended if you like counter shading, sandstone, alone time

Description: What an awesome game. Faraway really nails it with fantastic artwork and a great soundscape. Swivel and glide through an a-cultural clutch of ruins to collect various brass implements, handwritten notes, and magic tiles. After the first 7 levels you will be invited to spend an additional $2.99 to keep playing and I wouldn’t be surprised if you wanted to pony up because this is a great puzzle world.

In terms of difficulty, Faraway does a great job of escalating things through the levels and introducing new game mechanics. Complete with cool contraptions Faraway includes an ancient system of electrical( or is pneumatic?) wiring to work with and also some laser satellites of antiquity. This is the type of game where you can re-play levels to improve your score by collecting all 3 of the handwritten notes from your unseen friend instead of merely 1 or 2 of them. I did not bother to do that but it is a nice dimension to keep the game engaging even after you’ve played through. And, if you’re into that #desertlife, I highly recommend Sphinx.

For the sake of transparency, I should tell you that this game made me sort of motion sick. The viewer does not give you 360 degree rotation so some rooms feel kind of stuck and weird. That’s really my only complaint though.

 

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Difficulty: Medium
Difficulty Elements:  
great cascade | both readily apparent and invisible puzzle arrays | esoteric interfaces | no Absurdity | both typical and unique solves

Escape the Lighthouse

Published by Big Bad Bros. I played this on android.

The Short: More time was spent making this look cool than making this fun to play.

Recommended if you like sighing, grey scale, the Miyazakis (father or son)

Description: Escape the Lighthouse deserves commendation for creating very cool artwork and sound design. Beyond that though, this wasn’t a great escape game. Very short on cascade and the puzzles themselves were sort of non-diegetic? Let me explain. Usually the puzzles in an escape game are part of a puzzle array. The puzzle itself is literally part of the room. It is the mugs in the kitchen, the desk in the hall, a piece of paper hidden under the couch. You have to engage with the space to solve it. Escape the Lighthouse toggles between actual rooms in the lighthouse and then these disembodied puzzles like you might play in a puzzle book. It’s not as fun.

Difficulty: Medium
Difficulty Elements
little to no cascade | no Absurdity | readily apparent puzzle arrays | typical solves