Published by hozdesign. I played this on android.
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, teal, ducks 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!
Difficulty Elements: great cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays| both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | mild Absurdity | both typical & unique solves
Published by Appliss inc. I played this on android.
The Short: Fresher than most but nothing terribly new.
Recommended if you like diamond heists, swiping right
Description: There’s a growing population of escape games that are trying to incorporate more intuitive controls. Instead of arrows and classic point-and-click style commands, these game employ swipe and hold controls (Other examples include JacksOffice, XON, and The Room) Some games program this beautifully. Others are more awkward. CUBICROOM is in the awkward category. It may take you a full minute or two just to get the hang of moving around and zooming in and out of things.
Controls aside, the graphics in this game are really fun! Clean lines, bright space, a definite vibe of a museum or art gallery. There are a couple of cute surprises in CUBICROOM and you should definitely keep your wits about you because this game contains a light sprinkling of trickery.
This game took a long time to download. At first I thought it was because there would be many chapters of game play. Not so. There are only two chapters. In fact, the second chapter is incredibly short. I’m not mad or anything but that was definitely confusing. I mean why bother to split the game into chapters if the second is barely a tenth as long as the first? Just to throw in a lousy commercial? Oh well. I guess ya’ll just need to pay the bills over at Apliss. No worries, dudes.
Difficulty Elements: ok cascade |readily apparent puzzle arrays |straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity |both typical & unique solves
Published by ROBAMIMI. I played this on android.
The Short: This game is not noteworthy except for the incredible and unlikely family drama that plays out at the finale.
Recommended if you like bear humor, daytime television
Description: If — like me — you are deep inside the weird and often socially askew world of free, mobile escape games, Bear’s Life is a Must-Play. The game itself is not challenging nor is it particularly good. Instead, what sets Bear’s Life apart is the hilarious moral drama that is presented upon the game’s completion.
You begin by intruding upon a large bear who is reposing at his lovely shoreline bungalow. After bothering him and re-arranging his furniture, you ultimately help him to discover that he is not a “failure-man” as the full title of this game suggests. Instead, you give this bear another chance at life. Don’t forget to retrieve the all-important hand written letter before you hop into the [sic] “boart” and drive away. I cannot overstate how amazing the conclusion of this game turns out to be. Despite the undeniable low quality, I highly recommend this game to any player looking for a unique experience.
Difficulty Elements: very little cascade | readily-apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | some Absurdity | typical solves
This post reviews 3 games by nicolet.jp: Apple 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
Published by Valve Corporation. I played this on Windows.
Iterations: Portal, Portal 2, The Lab (and many other interesting spin off properties)
The Short: The modern classic.
Recommended if you like psychotic robots, teleporting, and cake!
Description: I know, I know. I should get out of here with this review. Portal is a decade old today (happy birthday!) and it’s been reviewed to death. For good reason of course as it is much beloved and treasured by pretty much everybody even vaguely familiar with gaming. It is the mind-bendiest of the mind-bending, has a completely original tone, and packs a punch with phenomenal puzzling. Portal was an instant classic and remains a canonical addition to the gaming universe.
Now Portal is much more exciting than most of the escape games I talk about on this blog and I wanted to review it for a very important reason. If you read anything about Portal online, be it a synopsis, description or review, nobody will call it an “escape game.” And yet, Portal is the most textbook example of an escape game that I can think of. A series of rooms containing discrete puzzle arrays, where the ultimate goal is to escape all of the rooms and, eventually, the whole facility. It’s true that Portal transforms into a first person shooter half way through but the puzzling is absolutely foundational even as the adrenaline pumps up. The only reason nobody would call Portal an escape game is because “escape game” has a particular connotation. It is a bad connotation. But I am here to defend escape games everywhere and declare that they are fun! And cool! And there should be more of them! And Portal is an escape game, dudes! Deal with it!
Difficulty Elements: great cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | esoteric interfaces | some Absurdity | unique solves
Published by Atami-Lab. I played this on android.
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.
Difficulty Elements: good cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | no Absurdity | both typical & unique solves
Published by mipp. I played this on android.
The Short: A little rough around the edges but charming overall.
Recommended if you like sterile work environments, Monsters Inc.
Description: Mipp seems to be a good company. I really enjoy most of their game offerings even though LaboEscape is a little on the dopey side. Fade in on a sterile laboratory where you, presumably, have just come out of stasis. Scare up some standard tools like screw drivers, jump drives and employee directories to facilitate your escape from your unseen captors. The high note of this game is the adorable “scare” about half way through. Monsters get loose in the lab. They’re hella cute.
Puzzling quality is pretty average or maybe even slightly below average in this game. There’s very little cascade and most of the objects you retrieve will strongly indicate what you need to do to solve puzzles. There’s very little left to mystery in this jumpy, boxy game and, in terms of aesthetics, Design Netherworld just about covers it. You could definitely do worse than Monster LaboEscape but, for your sake, I hope you want to do better.
Difficulty Elements: low cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity | typical solves