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

Yellow Room (Reboot)

Published by hozdesign. I played this on android.

The Short: A nearly good game.

Recommended if you like wildlife dioramas, arabesque archways

Description: A near miss really sucks. Yellow Room (Reboot) came very close to being a good game but committed a small sin. But as many Catholics may tell you, a sin is a sin no matter how small. At least I think that’s what the bible says?

Let’s start with what’s good. Yellow Room (Reboot) takes after its siblings in the hozdesign family. Aesthetically, it’s a great minimalist design with some cool arched ceilings, an expanding gamespace, and has some signature funny elements that hozdesign always likes to throw your way. The soundscape is good too.

In the puzzling realm, Yellow Room (Reboot) has some mad tricks up its sleeves. Overall, the puzzle diversity in this game is really great and there’s plenty of unique solves to explore. But the designers got too clever for their own good on one particular puzzle array. Spoiler Alert, I am going to tell you about it here in detail. There is a moment in the game where you have a transparent sheet with markings on it. It fits perfectly over a painting on the wall which also has markings on it. One would think that a code would be visible once the transparent was laid over the painting. It isn’t. You cannot read what’s there. It is illegible. I was convinced that I needed a second transparent to read the code and spent a lot of time doing nothing in this game trying to find the second transparent. Finally, after watching a walk through, I discovered that hozdesign believes you can read the code that’s already there. You can’t. It’s too garbled. I was disappointed, yet again, by hozdesign. And it really really sucks because literally everything else in this game was fun. SIGH.

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

Cake Cafe

Published by FUNKYLAND. I played this on android.

The Short: Like no other cafe or bakery I have ever seen. A simple set of puzzles to solve.

Recommended if you like pink, PINK or PINK

Description: Cutesy and simplistic, Cake Cafe is not FUNKYLAND’s best work. (Their best work –in my opinion– can be found here) Still it’s a pretty solid puzzle environment chock full of keys, teacups, and plush wingback chairs. Will you be able to open this cherubic riot in time for the customers?

 

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

Egg Cube

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

The Short: A good egg.

Recommended if you like pastels, gold stars, smooth surfaces

Description: I am very excited about this publisher nicolet.jp. They are new to me but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been around forever. Regardless, Egg Cube is a great game with a distinctive, cutesy style. The puzzling itself is sort of a low-grade medium. I was tempted to call it easy but there is a good deal of cascade here to it gets a bump up for that.

Unlike other games that trade is adorableness, Egg Cube manages to steer clear of unintentional creepiness or bizarro babysitter vibes. The decor is childlike but in a dreamy sort of way. Plus there is a king egg who looks he could be some distant ancestor of the Kirby tribe?

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

Nordic Cottage

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

The Short: Turns out escape games and hygge are a couple of cozy housemates.

Recommended if you like Danish culture, clashing pattern prints, moose

Description: I was surprised how much I liked this game. At first, I thought it was an overly elaborated game space with too many weird nooks and crannies but the game really justified itself. First off, Nordic Cottage was harder than I expected. Not that this was a particularly challenging game but it had a lot of cascade and I felt I got a solid puzzling experience out of it. FUNKYLAND usually creates more simplistic, awkward-looking games so Nordic Cottage is really a step up for them. RAD, DUDES!

Drown yourself in the Danish decor as you poke around this bombastic cottage full of mismatched rugs, wallpapering, and ceramics. The whole thing feels very homespun, as if Aunt Inga herself knitted the entire interior of the place. And because it’s possible you will never play this game, I felt obligated to share this image of the Finale Key because when it comes to Finale Keys in general it does not get better than this!

nordic finale key

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

Hat Cube

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

The Short: Imaginative and cute.

Recommended if you like diminutive hats, nerds candy, Claire’s

Description: Sometimes during rush hour, I will elect to wait a little longer on the platform instead of boarding the overcrowded train in front of me. Sometimes I have to wait for not one, not two, but up to four or five trains to go by before there is space.  This is a great time of day for any escape game but it’s the perfect time for Hat Cube.

This game is cute. It is short. It is the most solid Easy game I have every played. Well designed and chock full of imaginative puzzle decisions (I’ve never used a ruler before in an escape game!). Nicolet.jp knows their stuff and I really enjoyed playing this. The cascade, in particular, is fantastic. There are plentiful nested puzzles in Hat Cube and each puzzle has a unique solve-technique. It’s not all keys and codes but instead a fun mix of different sorts of puzzle arrays. Plus, the whole world is kind of twee and adorable. And, best of all, you can solve the whole thing in the time it takes for four trains to pass you by.

Difficulty: Easy 
Difficulty Elements
excellent cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces| no Absurdity | unique solves

Mr. 3939 [Multiple Iterations]

Published by hozdesign. I played these on android.

Iterations: Episodes One – Six

The Short: Unhinged adventures with precocious ducklings.

Recommended if you like Wallace and Gromit, primary colors, negative space

Description: I have many gripes about hozdesign products but the Mr. 3939 series is actually really good. Cute ducklings, interesting aesthetic and – my favorite– it’s all a tad mind-bending.

The minimalist roomscapes throughout the Mr. 3939 series all share common tools and decor so as a series everything feels unified. It’s all enhanced by a very restrained and cartoonish soundscape. In terms of difficulty, these games offer up mostly esoteric puzzles interfaces but there’s also plenty of basic codes to be found, keys to be turned and hammers to be hammered. Some of the more unique details include stacked chairs, framed photos of fruit, and dragon-doors are all graced. It’s all served with a healthy dollop of Absurdity. So, in addition to sussing out which doorknobs do what, you may need to take a few logical leaps of faith.  

More photos:

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