DOORS

Published by 58 WORKS. I played this on android.

The Short: I actually didn’t hate this.

Recommended if you like mild cleverness, giving credit where it’s due

Description: I don’t like a Doors Galore. Escaping from static rooms through hundreds of doors is not usually a satisfying adventure, in my opinion. It also doesn’t help that, normally, a Doors Galore escape game is churned out by unloving creators who may or may not be machines. DOORS is different. It actually has some substance to it. The puzzles are witty on occasion and the graphics aren’t a full blown plume out of Design Netherworld. The rapid-fire nature of this play, paired with the surprising charm reminded me strongly of one of my favorites What’s Inside the Box

That all being said, I think this is an inferior example of 58 Works’s catalog. I think these guys/gals make awesome games. My favorite of theirs is definitely Ruins

Difficulty: Easy
Difficulty Elements:
ok cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays | both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | no Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

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Cactus Cube

Published by nicolet.jp.  I played this on android. Seal of Goodness

The Short: Nicolet.jp really is an oasis in the desert.

Recommended if you like baby saguaros

Description: Grains of sand can be as varied and beautiful as snowflakes. So too is the variety of games Nicolet.jp manages to churn out on a consistent basis. You can boop and bonk your way around this twee, succulent infused room, solve some interesting puzzles and bask in a sense of accomplishment once you’ve finished. This is a well made game that will stimulate your brain and please your senses.

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

Les Vacances de Monsieur 3939 [Series]

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

Iterations: Monday thru Sunday

The Short: This madcap adventures of one suave duckling contains both narrative and puzzling success.

Recommended if you like beach houses with secrets, tealducks in sunglasses

Description: Mr. 3939 is probably my favorite brand within hozdesign‘s gaming universe. The seven part series, Les Vacances de Mr. 3939, is a great addition to the family. The titular Mr. 3939 never fails to get up to all kinds of stunts and tom foolery in any one of his games. His vacations are no exception. The setting is silly but the puzzles are no joke. You will be challenged by this game. The aesthetic world is a true delight. Is this beach house some kind of retreat for spies? Is it safe to drive this long in an enclosed garage without suffocating? Is Mr. 3939 radio AM or FM? This bizarre series will either entertain you for hours or it will stump you. Either way, you will rue the day you made the acquaintance of Claude, who is a [sic] “lier”.

While I enjoyed this game, I do have some criticisms. They are as follows:  The narrative jump between Tuesday and Wednesday was a little strange for me. After spending most of the first episodes exploring a beach house, you are suddenly trapped in the garage. It was sort of jarring and I was glad to return to the more familiar space of the house in Thursday. The house is far more fun and colorful.

The puzzling logic in Saturday starts to get a little less tight compared to the previous days. Instead of locked drawers and curious contraptions with buttons, the items and puzzle arrays start to feel a bit shoehorned into the story. The solves become awkward and lack that “eureka” feeling. I get the sense that the designers were sprinting towards the finish line of this ambitious project. Things turned around on Sunday though. Great, challenging puzzles and a few laugh out loud animation moments. Bravo!

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Difficulty: Hard
Difficulty Elements
great cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays| both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | mild Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

Mushroom

Published by nicolet.jp. I played this on android.

The Short: Sad trumpet sounds.

Recommended if you like IKEA furniture, knick knacks, pretending you’re 3 feet tall

Description: Nicolet.jp is a great publisher. They have released numerous, enjoyable games that I highly recommend. Mushroom isn’t one of them.

Listen, if you’re going to name your game Mushroom, you really need to capitalize on the premise. I want to see mushrooms everywhere. All species! All shapes and sizes! Mushrooms houses! Mushroom stools! Mushrooms with spots, stripes, all the colors of the rainbow. There could be some aspect of the game related to poisons, fairies, rain, water, growing mushrooms on a log, I don’t know. These ideas just sprung to mind based on the rich cultural cache that mushrooms occupies. Did this game utilize any of this? No, absolutely none. The only mushrooms in this game are little mushrooms sculptures slung around a room that is dominated by book cases and a television. Honestly, guys, just pick a different title.

In addition to the missed artistic opportunity, this game is also straight up boring. Solving this was so easy that it was an unrewarding victory.

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

Bear’s Life: A failure-man story

Published by ROBAMIMI.  I played this on android.

The Short: This game is not noteworthy except for the incredible and unlikely family drama that plays out at the finale.

Recommended if you like bear humor, daytime television

Description: If — like me — you are deep inside the weird and often socially askew world of free, mobile escape games, Bear’s Life is a Must-Play. The game itself is not challenging nor is it particularly good. Instead, what sets Bear’s Life apart is the hilarious moral drama that is presented upon the game’s completion.

You begin by intruding upon a large bear who is reposing at his lovely shoreline bungalow. After bothering him and re-arranging his furniture, you ultimately help him to discover that he is not a “failure-man” as the full title of this game suggests. Instead, you give this bear another chance at life.  Don’t forget to retrieve the all-important hand written letter before you hop into the [sic] “boart” and drive away. I cannot overstate how amazing the conclusion of this game turns out to be. Despite the undeniable low quality, I highly recommend this game to any player looking for a unique experience.

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Difficulty: Easy 
Difficulty Elements: 
very little cascade | readily-apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | some Absurdity | typical solves

Nicolet.jp Round Up

This post reviews 3 games by nicolet.jpApple Cube, Escape Game A, and Tiny Cube 

Escape games breed in abundance. There are literally thousands to choose from across genre and across platforms. As a result, I’ve decided to start doing Round Ups organized by Publisher. Nicolet.jp is a cornucopia of good escapes but sometimes there’s not that much to say outside of the fact that they are cute, fun, and well designed. As a result, I’ve created this post of mini reviews (miniviews?) to cover games more efficiently.  

Continue reading Nicolet.jp Round Up

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