DreamKitchen

Published by DAIKOKUYA SOFT. I played this on android.

The Short: I don’t know if I would characterize this as a “dream” kitchen but it is certainly an acceptable one.

Recommended if you like model homes, hamburgers for breakfast

Description: This is a regular old escape game set in a kitchen. The graphics are decent. The puzzles were engaging. I suppose it’s worth noting that the “dream” component here is the high quality appliances and granite counter tops. I remember one time my aunt took me to a company that specializes in remodeling kitchens. The business was just one giant floor (maybe 100 square meters?) of “sample kitchens” with all kinds of stainless steel equipment and marble details. The kitchen of DreamKitchen kind of reminded me of that experience.

This game is fine. I think the cruelest thing I can say about it is that it’s a bit unremarkable.

Difficulty: Medium
Difficulty Elements:
great cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity | typical solves

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EXITs3

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

Iterations: EXITs 1 – EXITs 4

The Short: This series is turning into a dynasty.

Recommended if you like air plants, light fixtures, the word “tableaux”

Description: EXITs is one of my favorite series. These puzzles are always on point, as are these snazzy, jazzy rooms. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to try and escape from an Urban Outfitters, look no further than this series. Each room is a soothing blend of trendy rugs, slick furniture, and the occasional metallic ornament that would make even Miranda Priestly nod approvingly.

One notable misstep in this series is the penultimate level in the castle-like parlor room. The music is absolutely atrocious, like a group of bassoonists inhaled too much helium and were forced to play the songs designed for music boxes. Weird.

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

Nordic2

Published by ArtDigic. I played this on android.

The Short: A feisty little game! Seal of Goodness

Recommended if you like snooty art, French doors, frou frou floor tiling

Description: This game really impressed me. Both the design and the game play were well above average. Let’s start with the room: talk about nice digs! This room has personality. Unlike a thousand other games I’ve reviewedNordic2 is actually a unique space, complete with art, furniture and decorations that were purposefully married together by a human creator. It adds so much character and depth when these games go the extra mile to truly imagine a fun, weird room to escape from. I mean — for god’s sake — why do I need to escape from the same drywall, IKEA style studio apartment day in and day out? Aren’t we designing games in cyber space? I mean, I could escape from the inside of a fish if the designer so decreed so why not?

In terms of the puzzling, Nordic2 wins again. This game features an expanding universe, with multiple rooms and puzzle arrays that spread across several areas. The puzzles here will taunt you a bit and I think the snooty atmosphere makes it that much more antagonistic to play. This game strongly reminded me of a few of my other favorites: Nordic Cottageand everything done by the EXITs team.

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

Mushroom

Published by nicolet.jp. I played this on android.

The Short: Sad trumpet sounds.

Recommended if you like IKEA furniture, knick knacks, pretending you’re 3 feet tall

Description: Nicolet.jp is a great publisher. They have released numerous, enjoyable games that I highly recommend. Mushroom isn’t one of them.

Listen, if you’re going to name your game Mushroom, you really need to capitalize on the premise. I want to see mushrooms everywhere. All species! All shapes and sizes! Mushrooms houses! Mushroom stools! Mushrooms with spots, stripes, all the colors of the rainbow. There could be some aspect of the game related to poisons, fairies, rain, water, growing mushrooms on a log, I don’t know. These ideas just sprung to mind based on the rich cultural cache that mushrooms occupies. Did this game utilize any of this? No, absolutely none. The only mushrooms in this game are little mushrooms sculptures slung around a room that is dominated by book cases and a television. Honestly, guys, just pick a different title.

In addition to the missed artistic opportunity, this game is also straight up boring. Solving this was so easy that it was an unrewarding victory.

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

CUBICROOM -room escape-

Published by Appliss inc.  I played this on android.

The Short: Fresher than most but nothing terribly new.  Seal of Goodness

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

Brickscape

Published by 5minLab.  I played this on android.

The Short:  A small treasure. Seal of Goodness

Recommended if you like prisms, rotating around a fixed axis, the Wes Anderson aesthetic

Description: Brickscape is not technically an escape game. It is purely a geometric puzzle environment complete with a seemingly infinite number of levels and soothing, cool music. This game only features puzzling related to unlocking prisms in a closed system. This is a fairly typical puzzling variety. You can find brick puzzles in many other,  full fledged escape games. It will usually be included as a small obstacle to unlocking a door or a box in order to move on to the next level. So if you feel like you need some practice with brick puzzles in general, Brickscape is a very rewarding place to start.

On an aesthetic level, Brickscape is a perfect game. The interface is nothing short of lovely. It’s smooth, intuitive and elegantly simple. The blocks themselves are pretty and the scoring system is streamlined. This game strongly reminded me of other well-made, purely puzzling worlds like Mekorama, Cryptica, and What’s Inside the Box?. I did miss a sense of narrative or storytelling but that’s not really a complaint. I highly recommend this game.

Difficulty: Easy to start. Progressively harder. 
Difficulty Elements:
ok cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity | typical solves

Concrete Room II

Published by ManiManiWorks.  I played this on android.

The Short: A lesser game.

Recommended if you like large geometric objects, graininess

Description: Theoretically, this game could rise to the occasion of being described as “fine” or “okay.” And yet, it does not deliver. The room itself is meant to be some kind of art exhibit with large geometric objects, curious installation pieces, and a few paintings. The puzzle arrays are embedded within the art and cross-communicate among themselves.

This game had a few tricky clues but overall the graphics were quite bad. At some point a clue was not translated into English, rendering the rest of the game impossible without a walkthrough. I found neither the energy nor the desire to bother with a walkthrough. I have played many dull, bad escape games but usually those are rendered with a little more artistic care.

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