Forgotten Hill: Memento

Published by FM-Studio.  I played this on android. Seal of Goodness

Other Iterations: Surgery, Puppeteer, and Fall

The Short: Gomez, last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate, howling demon. You frightened me.  Do it again!  – Morticia Addams

Recommended if you like guillotines, insane children, the squelch of bodily tissues

Description: Bravo! What an awesome game. Forgotten Hill has conjured a freakish and exhilarating puzzle experience in Memento. This game is packed to the gills with jump scares, horrifying imagery, and laugh-out-loud gruesome jokes. Memento features not one, not two, but five haunted houses for you to prowl through from top to bottom in order to discover the violent pasts of four families beset by tragedy.

The puzzling in Memento is top shelf. It is intricate with each house containing discrete, localized puzzles but also sharing tools and puzzle arrays with the other four houses. There’s a lot of ground to cover but the creators have taken pains to ensure you remain on track, even if you feel quite lost. This game engenders so much trust by being consistent with tools, consistent with messaging and utterly free of buggy weirdness or ill fitting clues.

Aesthetically, Memento sings albeit a song that is rather weird and disturbing. The contraptions are unique and unsettling: marionettes, scales that measure with human hands, and a litany of odd creatures. If you like the sound of this game, I also recommend Cube Escape. Here are some images from Memento for you to admire:

 

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Difficulty: the high end of Medium 
Difficulty Elements:
fantastic cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays |both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | plenty of Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

DOOORS

Published by 58 WORKS. I played this on android.

The Short: I actually didn’t hate this.

Recommended if you like mild cleverness, giving credit where it’s due

Description: I don’t like a Doors Galore. Escaping from static rooms through hundreds of doors is not usually a satisfying adventure, in my opinion. It also doesn’t help that, normally, a Doors Galore escape game is churned out by unloving creators who may or may not be machines. DOOORS is different. It actually has some substance to it. The puzzles are witty on occasion and the graphics aren’t a full blown plume out of Design Netherworld. The rapid-fire nature of this play, paired with the surprising charm reminded me strongly of one of my favorites What’s Inside the Box

That all being said, I think this is an inferior example of 58 Works’s catalog. I think these guys/gals make awesome games. My favorite of theirs is definitely Ruins

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

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

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

Nicolet.jp Round Up

This post reviews 3 games by nicolet.jpApple 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