Aesthetic, cartoonish, fantasy, Genre, straightforward

Kalaquli R

Published by 58 Works. I played this on android.

The Short: Kalaquli is a better escape game than most but it’s missing a crucial ingredient: cascade.

Recommended if you like tea houses under siege

Description: I like all of the following things about Kalaquli R: First, the aesthetics are good. Set in a Japanese(?) tea house that’s beset by dart-blowing ninjas, Kalaquili R features cool sliding doors, secret compartments and samurai artwork. As with the visuals, the sound in Kalaquli R succeeds at creating a cohesive place and mood. Second, I really love it when games “open up” as the game proceeds. Kalaquli R has multiple tiers as you move through the game though I can’t say that they get harder or anything. The world merely expands. Puzzle quality was decent though definitely on the medium-easy side.

What’s missing from Kalaqui R is a sense that the puzzles interlock and relate to each other. Instead, it’s more of a fixed set of different puzzle areas that you extinguish, one at a time. A perfect example of this is the courtyard in this game. It’s an entire “room” and yet only 2 puzzles derive from it. Many escape games suffer from lack of cascade but Kalaqui R was a surprising one to fall into this trap because everything else about it was above average.

Difficulty Level: Medium
Difficulty Elements:  invisible puzzle arrays | readily-apparent puzzle arrays | low cascade | no Absurdity

Aesthetic, cartoonish, cascade, fantasy, Genre, Seal of Goodness, Special Qualities, straightforward

Sphinx

Published by Kotorinosu. I played this on android.

The Short: Who doesn’t love a good old puzzle-jaunt through an ancient pyramid? 

Recommended if you like Ancient Egypt, the sound of your own footsteps

Description: Sphinx rocks! Really nice design aesthetic with both visuals and sound. I also really dug the Items design. The aesthetic here reminds me of a lot of flash animation. Well textured and cartoon-y, Sphinx contains hidden chambers, bizarre contraptions and plenty of golden statues to stare at you as you proceed through the game. Items are non-static even in your inventory and you can combine/deconstruct items to create new implements. Item crafting is always a really awesome aspect to an escape game because it expands the potential solutions at your disposal and makes the game more dynamic overall. Sphinx also “opens up” as the game proceeds and I would argue that this game actually increases in difficulty through the levels.

Difficulty Level: Medium
Difficulty Elements: esoteric puzzle arrays | cascade | item construction/deconstruction

 

Aesthetic, cartoonish, fantasy, funny, Genre

Rescue the Ants

Created by Games2Jolly. I played this on android.

The Short: A fun, silly way to spend your next 25 minutes.

Recommended if you like bad Japanese translations, clobbering things, Nickelodeon logic.

Description: Ants are being sucked into a vortex and it’s your job to rescue them. Never before have you embarked on a mission of such ambiguous import. Goal confusion aside. Rescue the Ants is a super fun game. It’s a timed, point-and-click, puzzle adventure with stylized/wonky graphics and medium-hard puzzles.  The graphics are probably the strongest suit for this game. Definitely Nickelodeon-ish in the best way possible. Don’t forget to *drag* items. Took me over a minute to figure that out.

Difficulty Level: Medium
Difficulty Elements:  cascade | some Absurdity | esoteric puzzle arrays | readily-apparent puzzle arrays

Aesthetic, beautiful, cascade, Challenging, fantastical, fantasy, Genre, many many, realistic, science fiction, Seal of Goodness, Special Qualities

The Room (Multiple Iterations) ($)

Published by Fireproof Studios. I played on both android and Microsoft Windows.

($) Iterations: One, Two and Three

 

The Short: My fucking favorite.
Recommended if you like pocket watches, Gothic literature, pivoting around a fixed axis
Description:  The Room is challenging, beautiful, memorable, and fun. The interface alone is enough to fangirl over. Really smooth game play, streamlined tutorial process, and an intuitive goal: open the box! I recommend  playing these games in chronological order. Also, strongly recommend playing this with a device that offers touchscreen.
These puzzles are hard! Despite the difficulty, I never felt cheated by this game. Every solution was a eureka! moment and never a let down. The mythology is kind of kooky but the overall vibe created by both the visuals and the music was truly unique if not enchanting. The theme music reminded me of the Harry Potter franchise which I think is pretty cool even though I’m not really into Harry Potter stuff. A little bit creepy, a whole lot of antiques, discover the power of ‘the null’ for yourself.

Difficulty Level: Hard
Difficulty Elements:  lots of cascade| invisible puzzle arrays | esoteric puzzle arrays | some Absurdity

I preferred The Room One and Three over Two but I have been debated on this point by others. More photos of the incredible design below:

Continue reading “The Room (Multiple Iterations) ($)”

Aesthetic, beautiful, cascade, Challenging, fantastical, fantasy, Genre, many many, realistic, science fiction, Seal of Goodness, Special Qualities

Myst (Multiple Iterations) ($)

Published by Cyan/Broderbund. I played this on Microsoft Windows.

$ Iterations: Myst, Riven, Myst III: Exile, Uru: Ages Beyond Myst, Myst IV: Revelation, Myst V: End of Ages

The Short: Before there was Lost we had Myst. The irony is, the fans of each rarely overlap.

Recommended if you like mysterious islands, time travel, math

Description:
If you’re into escape games, or video games at all, it’s hard to imagine you’ve never heard of Myst. As a result, this review is merely a formality. I’m not here to describe Myst. I’m just here to tell you how I feel about it.

Continue reading “Myst (Multiple Iterations) ($)”

Aesthetic, beautiful, Challenging, fantastical, fantasy, Genre, realistic, Seal of Goodness, Special Qualities, vacation

XON Episode One

Published by imagoFX. I played this on android.

Free Versions: Episode One
$ Versions: Episodes Two, Three, and Four

The Short: WOW! XON!

Recommended if you like the real mccoy, puzzleventures, Myst

Description: This game is the cat’s pajamas. If you are into puzzle-adventure games, welcome to your next four weekends because that’s how many episodes are currently available for XON. Awesome interface on android. You can just glide around and take in the beautiful graphics (look out for the sun halo — it’ll blind you [but in a good way]) and listen to the occasional raven crowing.

As of writing, I have only played Episode One because it was free. Zero mythology so far but the world has a very cohesive aesthetic. Crystal orbs, giant granite ziggurats, secret tunnels and plenty of levers to pull. Puzzles were challenging enough and it’s clear that Episode One is just a teaser so I imagine the difficulty only increases from here. I would and will pay $1.99 per episode to play more of this. BRAVO.

ProTip: Turn up your display brightness when playing Xon. The shadowing in this game does not fuck around. 

More images from Xon:

Continue reading “XON Episode One”

Aesthetic, Bad, doors galore, fantastical, fantasy, Genre, horror, many many, Special Qualities

Hidden Escape

Published by Zenfox Games. I played this on android.

The Short: Design Netherworld is real and Hidden Escape is one of its knighted henchmen.

Recommended if you like clutter, tunnel vision, amateur collage work

Description: Hidden Escape is a variant on escape game that I don’t prefer. It’s a “doors galore” where there is no room to escape from but only a series of static images of doors and a panoply of objects in foreground which constitute the puzzles. It’s usually just one or two puzzles per door and then you proceed to the next doorway. What’s interesting about Hidden Escape is the truly awful design. It’s so bad that it’s actually very entertaining if you’re into that sort of thing. The first few levels seem to have their shit together. They’re a brief tour through some of the more obvious themes in “design netherworld,” specifically “Medieval-ish, Will there be Fairies?” and “Lesser Steampunk” and “Year Round Christmas” and even some horror/creep attempts. But things quickly go off the rails and you find yourself escaping from increasingly bizarre amalgamations of all of the aforementioned categories.

Game interface is acceptable and puzzling-wise, Hidden Escape is fine.

Pictures from Hidden Escape:
Continue reading “Hidden Escape”