Escape from Doctor’s Office

Published by Gamekb.  I played this on android.

The Short: I think this is actually a veterinarian’s office?

Recommended if you like epic fails, situational comedy, drawing blood

Description: I love a good translation error. Misspellings and grammatical mistakes are both charming and unavoidable when navigating between earth languages. Still, I think it’s important to remember that while the latest listicle featuring silly Engrish is hilarious, it’s good to stay humble and remember that people everywhere are doing their best.

That being said, Escape from Doctor’s Office is a translation error on a whole new level. The English itself in this game is actually fine, so kudos to the writers who worked on that. Instead, the translation error seems to have occurred in the text-mapping stage of this game’s development. All of the “helpful messaging” seems to have been beamed over from a totally different puzzle paradigm. The result is a hilarious dadaist excursion that I can only communicate in pictures:


There are other things wrong with this game at the level of play but I think I’ve been critical enough for one day. Now I would like to end this post with a quotation from an author I really enjoy named Kakuzo Okakura who himself was bilingual in Japanese and English.

“Translation is always a treason, and as a Ming author observes, can at its best be only the reverse side of a brocade,–all the threads are there, but not the subtlety of colour or design.” – The Book of Tea

Mr. Okakura, if only you could see what has happened in this crazy age of computers.

Difficulty: Medium
Difficulty Elements: 
okay cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays | both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | some Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

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Wall

Published by hozdesign .  I played this on android.

The Short: Infuriating.

Recommended if you like unlit basements, bricks, tearing your hair out

Description: I’ve said it before but I will say it again. Hozdesign, you have a lot to answer for. I do not understand who is solving these puzzles without walkthroughs. This blog is fast approaching its 100th post. I am not a novice player here. I have encountered my fair share of stumps and brain farts, only to watch a walkthrough and go “Oh! Of course! Silly me.” Not so with hozdesign. It’s a veritable vipers nest of unsolvable games. Too often have I felt cheated by these solutions.

Wall is a great concept. It’s challenging, imaginative, and well-designed in terms of the aesthetics. But these puzzles are just too damn hard. There are too many canyon-sized leaps of inference asked of the player. The codices and reference objects are difficult to understand. It’s not a game. It feels more like a punishing mental exercise conducted by your cruel, pipe-smoking, Sensei.

Note: I believe these games by hozdesign are good:  Mr. 3939, G.R.E.E.N., and Chairs.

Difficulty: Beyond Hard
Difficulty Elements:
 cascade |both straightforward & invisible puzzle arrays | esoteric interfaces | no Absurdity | unique solves

Can you Escape the 100 room I

Published by FunnyTimeDay. I played this on android.

The Short: Quite awful.

Recommended if you like blue haired maidens, shadowy cellars, air vents

Description: I don’t even want to review this game. It’s essentially a Doors Galore but with a few extra steps. Bad, undifferentiated graphics with low cascade puzzles make Can you Escape the 100 room a chore to complete. Belched straight out of Design Netherworld, this game seeks to combine some kind of medieval aesthetic with a  regular old Ohio basement. Tragic.

As long as we’re on the subject though, let me tell you about a certain bee in my bonnet. I have become quite hardened to the entire aesthetic world of medieval-esque creations. Just the sight of jerkins, wizards, or gilded chests tends to put me in a bad mood. Are there no other periods of human history worthy of recreating? Do people understand the nuanced differences between the Dark Ages, Middle Ages, High Middle Ages and Renaissance? They’re all completely distinct and, what’s more, wholly different depending on what country you’re in. I mean for god’s sake, read a book! Jesus.

Difficulty: Easy 
Difficulty Elements
low 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

chotto_fusigi (aka Strange Little Searching)

Published by かもの巣窟 . I played this on android.

The Short: There is a cool central idea here but jeez Louise, that animation is painful.

Recommended if you like making your eyes bleed, magical shoe boxes

Description: Woof. Where to start. I’m not a big fan of chotto stuff to begin with but chotto_fusigi really pushes the envelope. These graphics are bad. Bad, bad, bad! It’s all very two dimensional and suffused with an offensive array of corals and pastels. The furniture is boxy, badly rendered and the zoom effects are jarring and fairly nauseating. In short: Barf.

That being said, I do have a couple of nice things to say about this game. The central mechanic in chotto_fusigi is actually kind of interesting. There is a row of shoe boxes in the middle of this game space. They are magical shoe boxes. As you go around the room, you will collect miniature pieces of furniture and if you place them into the shoe boxes, you will conjure life-sized pieces of furniture. I kind of liked this in theory but they could have done more to capitalize on this premise. All in all, though, stay away from this game.

Difficulty: Easy 
Difficulty Elements:
some cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward & esoteric interfaces | low Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

BalletRoom aka Escape from the ballet classrooms.

Published by Ablues. I played this on android.

The Short: Tonal confusion in addition to an unfixed rotational axis make this game a bizarre jaunt indeed. I mean, if this is supposed to be cute what’s with the crying mannequin?

Recommended if you like uncanny ballet studios, vertigo

Description:  Aesthetically, I have to say, this game is a mess. This ostensibly adorable room feels stiff and overly polished as if everything was covered in a layer of vinyl. The amalgamation of objects in this ballet studio is a little bizarre. In addition to stuff you might expect (ballet bar, walls of mirrors, and a stereo system) there’s also a whale pillow, cryptic runes, and some undecipherable wall hangings that don’t seem to have any purpose.  It doesn’t feel like a cohesive space. But the worst part about this game is the rotational vertigo you experience when trying to navigate around the room. Typically, in an escape room, the game will situate you in the center of the space and allow you to rotate your POV north, west, south, and east with the option to zoom in on certain areas. Not so in Escape from the Ballet classrooms.! In this game  you are flung around from the center of the room, into corners looking back out again and frequently zoomed into surfaces against your will. It’s very disorienting and unpleasant.

The aesthetic problems bleed into the puzzling because it’s easy to become confused with the disorientation. I will say that there is one game mechanic worth praising in Escape from the Ballet classrooms.It has to do with the mirrors and if you don’t want it spoiled, then I suggest you stop reading at this point. As you approach the mirror, it will appear that they depict nothing of interest. But after a few second, images begin to fade into the space which constitute a code that you can tap into the wall panels. It’s a pretty original idea that I have never seen before so I wanted to call it out. Other than that, this game is a big S.K.I.P.

Difficulty: Medium 
Difficulty Elements:
good cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | both straightforward & esoteric puzzle arrays| mild Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

Sakura Washitsu

Published by Neat Escape. I played this on android.

The Short: Oh, Neat Escape. You scamp.

Recommended if you like slow clapping

Description: I have previously posted my feeling towards Neat Escape but to summarize, let me put it this way: Have you ever loved someone who was inordinately fond of puns? And who loved to trot out said puns at any time and in any place, regardless of audience? But you love this person. That’s the point here. I love Neat Escape. I really do.

That’s why I wanted to highlight a game they published that I just played called Sakura Washitsu. The game itself is fine in a mediocre way. What I really wanted to showcase though is the premise of the game, as articulated here, by this title card and introductory text:

sakura-washitsu-e1500946531878.png

That’s right. You have gone over to a friend’s house to watch the cherry blossoms. Then, without warning, your friend locks you into their living room and you must escape. Along the way, you will encounter secret compartments in their closets, messages in the drapes, and all manner of signs that YOUR FRIEND IS A PSYCHOPATH. Needless to say that once you do solve Sakura Washitsu your friend has been waiting for you this entire time and has already prepared tea and cookies.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this moment because Neat Escape is my weird, personal favorite and that’s what this blog is all about.