DreamKitchen

Published by DAIKOKUYA SOFT. I played this on android.

The Short: I don’t know if I would characterize this as a “dream” kitchen but it is certainly an acceptable one.

Recommended if you like model homes, hamburgers for breakfast

Description: This is a regular old escape game set in a kitchen. The graphics are decent. The puzzles were engaging. I suppose it’s worth noting that the “dream” component here is the high quality appliances and granite counter tops. I remember one time my aunt took me to a company that specializes in remodeling kitchens. The business was just one giant floor (maybe 100 square meters?) of “sample kitchens” with all kinds of stainless steel equipment and marble details. The kitchen of DreamKitchen kind of reminded me of that experience.

This game is fine. I think the cruelest thing I can say about it is that it’s a bit unremarkable.

Difficulty: Medium
Difficulty Elements:
great cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity | typical solves

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EXITs3

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

Iterations: EXITs 1 – EXITs 4

The Short: This series is turning into a dynasty.

Recommended if you like air plants, light fixtures, the word “tableaux”

Description: EXITs is one of my favorite series. These puzzles are always on point, as are these snazzy, jazzy rooms. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to try and escape from an Urban Outfitters, look no further than this series. Each room is a soothing blend of trendy rugs, slick furniture, and the occasional metallic ornament that would make even Miranda Priestly nod approvingly.

One notable misstep in this series is the penultimate level in the castle-like parlor room. The music is absolutely atrocious, like a group of bassoonists inhaled too much helium and were forced to play the songs designed for music boxes. Weird.

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

Nordic2

Published by ArtDigic. I played this on android.

The Short: A feisty little game! Seal of Goodness

Recommended if you like snooty art, French doors, frou frou floor tiling

Description: This game really impressed me. Both the design and the game play were well above average. Let’s start with the room: talk about nice digs! This room has personality. Unlike a thousand other games I’ve reviewedNordic2 is actually a unique space, complete with art, furniture and decorations that were purposefully married together by a human creator. It adds so much character and depth when these games go the extra mile to truly imagine a fun, weird room to escape from. I mean — for god’s sake — why do I need to escape from the same drywall, IKEA style studio apartment day in and day out? Aren’t we designing games in cyber space? I mean, I could escape from the inside of a fish if the designer so decreed so why not?

In terms of the puzzling, Nordic2 wins again. This game features an expanding universe, with multiple rooms and puzzle arrays that spread across several areas. The puzzles here will taunt you a bit and I think the snooty atmosphere makes it that much more antagonistic to play. This game strongly reminded me of a few of my other favorites: Nordic Cottageand everything done by the EXITs team.

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

CUBICROOM -room escape-

Published by Appliss inc.  I played this on android.

The Short: Fresher than most but nothing terribly new.  Seal of Goodness

Recommended if you like diamond heists, swiping right

Description: There’s a growing population of escape games that are trying to incorporate more intuitive controls. Instead of arrows and classic point-and-click style commands, these game employ swipe and hold controls (Other examples include JacksOffice, XON, and The Room) Some games program this beautifully. Others are more awkward. CUBICROOM is in the awkward category. It may take you a full minute or two just to get the hang of moving around and zooming in and out of things.

Controls aside, the graphics in this game are really fun! Clean lines, bright space, a definite vibe of a museum or art gallery. There are a couple of cute surprises in CUBICROOM and you should definitely keep your wits about you because this game contains a light sprinkling of trickery.

This game took a long time to download. At first I thought it was because there would be many chapters of game play. Not so. There are only two chapters. In fact, the second chapter is incredibly short. I’m not mad or anything but that was definitely confusing. I mean why bother to split the game into chapters if the second is barely a tenth as long as the first? Just to throw in a lousy commercial? Oh well. I guess ya’ll just need to pay the bills over at Apliss. No worries, dudes.

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

SOHO

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

The Short: Another day, another factory standard studio apartment to escape from.

Recommended if you like low lighting, spotless surfaces, Beethoven

Description: I feel like I have already escaped from this room many, many, times. A couch, a desk, hardwood flooring, and unadorned drywall. It’s not fair to criticize SOHO in particular because I play these games in a somewhat random order. Who’s to say that SOHO wasn’t the first game to devise this ordinary style of adventure? And yet, I’m pretty sure they weren’t.

This game is perfectly fine. The graphics are better than average. The puzzling quality is good. Aside from the fact my deja vu has deja vu, I can’t say this game is bad.

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

Cats in Italy

Published by Garusoft Development.  I played this on android.

Iterations: Cats in Italy, Sweetshop, Hotel the Cat 

The Short: Come si dici “hot mess?”

Recommended if you like nasal saxophones, short animations of cats

Description: I was really looking forward to this game series because I am a cat person and the idea of escaping rooms in a posh Italian setting really suited me. Alas, this game is quite excruciating. Terrible, awkward graphics paired with music from the depths of midi file hell conspire to invoke a bizarro and clownish “Italian” atmosphere.

I only solved a few puzzle arrays before quitting this game so my understanding of the difficulty and style might be lacking. Still, this seemed like a pretty straightforward puzzle series. Decode clocks, re-arrange colored objects, discover keys, and feed the hungry cat at the window sill. If you can stand it all and beat this game then congrats to you and veni vidi vici.

Difficulty: Unknown 
Difficulty Elements:
 cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | — Absurdity | typical solves