Block

Published by hozdesign.  I played this on android.

The Short: The latest offender.

Recommended if you like being cheated.

Description: I furrow my brow and look closely. I am watching a youtube video. The video is a depiction of the solutions — the walkthrough — to a game called Block by hozdesign. I watch carefully. The solution I need arrives so I pause the video.

I screw up my eyes. I intend to understand. I want to understand. I try to understand. But I will not understand. Because the solution is nonsensical. How do 5 ink blots in a grid translate into cardinal directions? It’s simple. They don’t.

Hozdesign creates games that baffle me. It’s possible there is some kind of steep cultural rift between myself and these creators but I don’t understand how this can happen on such a consistent basis. I enjoy solving puzzles. I play a ton of these games. I can only conclude that hozdesign does this on purpose: they create arbitrary, meaningless puzzles that have no logical solution. It’s so sad. It makes me feel sad.

If I am wrong,  please, someone — ANYONE — let me know.

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

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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

Table

Published by hozdesign.  I played this on android.

The Short: Why? WHY?

Recommended if you like numbered rocks, magical tables

Description: I thought Table would be the one. I really did. I had hope, confidence, and love for this game. But hozdesign has betrayed me again. If you’re new here and don’t know what I’m talking about, read any of my past posts about this publisher.

This game is fun. It’s weird. It’s creepy and it’s hard. It is everything I like in an escape game. And then, right at the end, Table presents the player with a stupid, unintuitive and — in my opinion — unsolvable puzzle. I am shaking my head. I am sad. Why, hozdesign? Why?

Difficulty: Beyond Hard 
Difficulty Elements:
good cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays | esoteric interfaces | some Absurdity | unique solves

Coming Soon! The Room 4: Old Sins

Published by Fireproof games.  Not yet released!

The Short: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fireproof Games has announced a fourth game in their popular series, The Room. The release date is a bit vague, although imminent, “fourth quarter of 2017.” Fireproof plans to release the game on ios first and a bit later on android so us little green robots may be waiting until after Christmas to get our mitts on this. In the meantime, there’s a fun freebie from the publisher: a downloadable tarot card deck that mimics the set found in The Room 2. 

In an interview with one of designers, Barry Meade noted that Old Sins is something of a brand new story line with new characters. Still it’s all situated in the same mythological world as the previous three. Here’s a brief premise overview from their website:

The sudden disappearance of an ambitious engineer and his high-society wife provokes the hunt for a precious artefact. The trail leads to the attic of their deserted home, and the discovery of an old, peculiar dollhouse…Experience The Room: Old Sins and explore unsettling locations, follow obscure clues and manipulate bizarre artefacts on a journey into the world behind the veil.”

I’ve got two photos and this teaser video from the Rezzed gaming conference back in April. That’s all for now, folks!

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Don’t Escape

Published by scriptwelder. I played this on Windows in a browser.

The Short: Low-bit graphics and a clever twist on the genre.

Recommended if you like pixels, potions, werewolves

Description: You are a werewolf, still in human form. You have until sundown to lock yourself inside of a cabin to prevent yourself from committing senseless carnage. It’s a great idea and this game pulls it off well. The animation is very old school. It has that 64-bit, highly pixelated vibe going on along with helpful screen text. The eerie music and sound effects are pretty spot on, running the gamut from creaky doors to ominous white noise.  If you ever played a computer game before 1996, Don’t Escape will feel like a delightful nostalgia piece.

From a puzzling perspective this game is also pretty good though it’s more focused on item combination than manipulating aspects of the space. This is a short game that you will probably have to play multiple times to solve. Enjoyable. Fine. Werewolves.

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

Faraway Puzzle Escape ($)

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

The Short: Despite their age, mysterious ruins never get old.

Recommended if you like counter shading, sandstone, alone time

Description: What an awesome game. Faraway really nails it with fantastic artwork and a great soundscape. Swivel and glide through an a-cultural clutch of ruins to collect various brass implements, handwritten notes, and magic tiles. After the first 7 levels you will be invited to spend an additional $2.99 to keep playing and I wouldn’t be surprised if you wanted to pony up because this is a great puzzle world.

In terms of difficulty, Faraway does a great job of escalating things through the levels and introducing new game mechanics. Complete with cool contraptions Faraway includes an ancient system of electrical( or is pneumatic?) wiring to work with and also some laser satellites of antiquity. This is the type of game where you can re-play levels to improve your score by collecting all 3 of the handwritten notes from your unseen friend instead of merely 1 or 2 of them. I did not bother to do that but it is a nice dimension to keep the game engaging even after you’ve played through. And, if you’re into that #desertlife, I highly recommend Sphinx.

For the sake of transparency, I should tell you that this game made me sort of motion sick. The viewer does not give you 360 degree rotation so some rooms feel kind of stuck and weird. That’s really my only complaint though.

 

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