Aesthetic, Challenging, fantastical, Genre, many many, Seal of Goodness, Special Qualities, straightforward

Cryptica

Published by Pixibots. I played this on android.

The Short:  Fun with hieroglyphics minus the worry of raising the dead.

Recommended if you like runes, grids, neutral tones

Description: Cryptica is not an escape game. It’s a spatial reasoning puzzle game with sort of an Aztec-y aesthetic. In each level, you are presented with a grid. The grid contains at least one Active Stone and that Active Stone’s match-spot. You must move the Active Stone or Stones to their respective match spots to win. The trick in this game comes when you get multiple Active Stones. All Active Stones move in unison so when you move an individual stone once to the left, you move all of the Active Stones once to the left. The game is further complicated by Inactive Stones that work to block the Active Stones.

I love the shit out of this game. It has a really intuitive interface, great audio accompaniment to game play, and it’s challenging in just the right way. This is also a game where you can really get “in the zone” by playing multiple levels in a row, your brain really starts to think along the grid. The next time you’re meeting someone for coffee, especially your one friend who is always 15 minutes late, download Cryptica and feel the time fly by.

Difficulty Level: Medium
Difficulty Elements: readily-apparent puzzles

Aesthetic, Bad, Challenging, Genre, paranoid, realistic, Special Qualities, straightforward

RED

Published by hozdesign. I played this on android.

The Short: More RED flags, courtesy of hozdesign

Recommended if you like dark alleyways, tomatoes

Description: Let’s begin with what is good about this game. Aesthetically, RED is cool. A nighttime puzzle complete with eerie lighting and harmonious cricket noises. RED follows a typical escape game trope of presenting a weird and spooky vibe while never actually delivering any horror elements. It’s like a zen garden of creepy, after-dark hangouts. I like it.

What I didn’t like about RED is the extreme difficulty.  I was very suspicious of this game because I had a really terrible experience playing ESC which is another game by hozdesign. RED turned out to be eminently more solvable but still, the finale puzzle of this game was beyond hard. It was actually just straight up sadistic. Even after a concerted effort to solve it (and I really thought I was on the right track), I finally succumbed to watching a walk through. I had to read and re-read this solution three times to make sure I grasped what it was telling me. Hozdesign really fails at creating puzzles that have one, understandable solution that truly contains a “eureka” moment regardless if you solve it or have it shown to you. Instead, they tend to offer up puzzles so complex and multi-faceted that it’s fairly impossible to know you’re on the right track even when you’re halfway through.

Games are no fun when the creators don’t play fair. Sorry, RED but I’m just not a fan.

Difficulty Level: Beyond Hard
Difficulty Elements: esoteric puzzle arrays | cascade

Aesthetic, cascade, Challenging, Genre, minimalist, Seal of Goodness, Special Qualities, straightforward

Escape Game – Cubes

Published by Brazen Cat. I played this on android.

The Short: Fun and hard and rainbows!!

Recommended if you like Rubik’s cubes, spatial reasoning, Bauhaus

Description: This game was hard! I loved it though. Escape Game – Cubes is an anonymous white room with rainbow cubes that create a very abstract and brainy puzzle experience. There’s no sense of story to this game but makes up for it in spades with the super cool design and fantastic puzzle cascade.

One of my favorite things in an escape game is when you unlock a new area of the puzzle and get to explore a new space/puzzle array. Escape Room – Cubes provides a fun little revelation about half-way through and it was a genuine small delight. I wouldn’t recommend this game for a beginner just because the puzzles are quite hard but it’s a fairly straight forward game universe as opposed to something zany-balls like Escape from Escape Room  so if you’re green but feeling plucky, give it a spin.

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

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, Challenging, funny, Genre, paranoid, Seal of Goodness, Special Qualities

Escape from Escape Room

Published by noprops. I played this on android.

The Short: Absolutely bonkers.

Recommended if you like mental gymnastics, Don Hertzfeldt, niche humor about escape games

Description: This is a great game if you are really into escape games. It’s almost like The Stanley Parable’s genius kid sister. Very challenging and the puzzle solutions are definitely high on the “absurdist” spectrum. I could not have solved this without hints and a walk through but I definitely enjoyed myself. You begin in what appears to be a normal room. And then, everything changes. Technically, I must situate this game into Design Netherworld but Escape from Escape Room is such a parody of the genre that the generic aesthetic is almost certainly on purpose.

Worth mentioning: Escape from Escape Room is a short form game. It won’t go on forever.

Difficulty: Hard
Difficulty Elements: high Absurdity | invisible puzzle arrays | esoteric puzzle arrays | cascade

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”