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

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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

FriendRoom

Published by Ablues.  I played this on android.

The Short: Is it vaguely creepy that I am snooping around a child’s room? Maybe. Are virtually-rendered teddy bears a genre of terror unto themselves? Almost certainly.

Recommended if you like pajama parties, open containers of snacks, xylophones

Description: This is easily the best thing I have seen by Ablues. FriendRoom is an entertaining set of puzzles in a fully realized environment. I really credit this game for successfully recreating what a girls’ slumber party actually looks like. The puzzles are pretty okay.

Aesthetically, this game has good components and bad ones. I liked the cluttered nature of the room. It felt realistic. There’s lot of detail work of toys, books and wall hangings and the elements of the room go together well (which is a nice change from some of the other creations by this same publisher). Still, FriendRoom had a bit of that weird stiffness that’s quite common to generic escape games, almost like a vinyl gloss that seems to cover everything. Also, I really think teddy bears need to be permanently banned from escape games. They are inevitably creepy.

The puzzle arrays in this game were pretty good. Some were contained in one space while others are scattered around the room which makes them harder to identify and increases the difficulty of the game in a good way. My one big complaint about this game is a design flaw that caused me to get seriously stuck for a long time. There is an item you retrieve very early on in FriendRoom that is slender and black. You don’t use it for a long time. So, if you forget that it is in your inventory, it will literally become invisible to you because it fades very easily into the black background of the inventory blocks. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A little item labeling goes a long way.

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

Igloo Escape

Published by Ablues.  I played this on android.

The Short: A dinky game with a strong concept.

Recommended if you like igloos, penguins, polar bears

Description: Welp. This was better than Escape from the ballet classrooms. Still, Ablues is not shaping up to be my favorite publisher. This game is a bit rickety in its logic. I tend to discredit games when the puzzling is more focused on finding objects which are lost in a heap of other objects. A better quality game will efficiently present you with several key instruments and let you work out what the puzzle calls for. Igloo spoon feeds the player with lots of hints and glaringly obvious puzzle arrays.

Igloo Escape is an easy game so at least you won’t be stuck inside of its mixed-up aesthetic for long. Plushie animals, a sled, and a pile of grocery store items will keep you company as you scoot around in the snow. I won’t go so far as to call this game bad but I don’t recommend it either.

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

Fish

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

The Short: Simple, babyish, and nice overall.

Recommended if you like cute blobs, Nick Jr., teal

Description: Fish might be overselling its aquatic nature with the name but this is a solid, easy game in an aesthetically pleasing little room. Giant, bloated fish statues (or are they plushies?), a grid full of colorful shells, and life savers all serve as puzzle arrays. There are plenty of boxes to unlock, a secret room or two, and a small case of room destruction. Fun, short, recommended.

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

Toys

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

The Short: Another home-run from nicolet.jp.

Recommended if you like toy trains, bunk beds, cleaning your room

Description: Newton’s Third Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Maybe there’s more to it than that but I’m into escape games, not physics so that is the extent of my understanding. Still, this Law provokes an alluring philosophical idea. Does every evil in the world conjure a virtuous countermand? Could it be that for every bad, ugly escape game, there is an equally good and attractive one?

Toys is a good game. There’s not much to say beyond that but I don’t want my lack of description to give you an impoverished sense of the game’s quality. You will like it. It’s cute and somewhat challenging. Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to communicate just how serene a good escape game can be. Perhaps it is telling that the language of English does not have much vocabulary or intellectual gestalt to discuss the virtuous absence of flaw. Instead, as a language, it is lousy with hyperbolic praise and mandatory assertion. Toys is good. I recommend it. I don’t know what else to say.

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