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, Genre, many many, Seal of Goodness, Special Qualities, straightforward, vacation

Can You Escape?

Published by MobiGrow. I played this on android.

In Short: Gold standard escape game.

Recommended if you like tranquil living rooms, low key music, and being safe in the knowledge that winning is its own reward.

Description: Can You Escape? has the most basic format I know of for escape games: There are multiple rooms to escape from. Each room is different and unrelated from the others. There is no over-arching story but there are plenty of keys, matches, and codes to look for and some relaxing lounge music for your listening pleasure. Can You Escape? is a totally decent game.  I like the room designs. They’re all a bit different and there’s definitely some tongue-and-cheek decorating choices. So the question is, can you escape Can You Escape? ? There’s only one way to find out.

Difficulty Level: Easy
Difficulty Elements: low cascade | 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:

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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.

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Bad, doors galore, Genre, many many, Special Qualities, straightforward

100 Doors Challenge

 

Published by Protey Apps. I played this on android.

The Short: I wrote this review quickly so I could uninstall this game as soon as possible.

Recommended if you like mansplainers, Doors Galore, text boxes

Description: This is what I call a “Doors Galore” escape game which is not my favorite kind. Essentially, you are presented with a seemingly infinite number of static images of doors and the required objects needed to manipulate in order to pass through to the next level. Doors Galores tend to be simplistic, ready made for speed-solving and ultimately not that much fun in my opinion. What makes 100 Doors Challenge particularly egregious is the presence of Jonathan, a man (weirdly rendered from a graphics perspective) who takes up your whole screen with his macho stance, tweed jacket and smoking a pipe that I can only presume is supposed to invoke Sherlock Holmes. Jonathan will instruct and compliment you as you proceed through the first bunch of levels.

I do not like Jonathan. In fact, I was completely confused by him until I realized that there is a Russian language version of 100 Doors Challenge and suddenly Jonathan’s powerful manly stance and authoritative attitude towards me began to make sense. I don’t think the developers of this game ever thought a female person would play it.

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:
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Aesthetic, beautiful, cartoonish, cute, fantastical, fantasy, Genre, many many, Seal of Goodness, Special Qualities

Mekorama

Published by Martin Magni. I played this on android.

In Short:  A superb game. Mekorama may be the lilliputian puzzle maze experience you’ve been craving all your life.

Recommended if you like legos, twee, Pixar

Description:
You are an adorable robot. Your giant baby eye is so top heavy that whenever you walk, you wobble like an irresistible robot toddler. Or maybe you an alien? Regardless, Mekorama is about mazes. Beautifully imagined, elaborately designed, Mekorama breathes new life into smooth, pixelated gamescapes that dominated an earlier age of puzzle games. In terms of difficulty, I found this game challenging almost right away but I’m not good at spatial reasoning. I become disoriented even in familiar spaces (I once got lost inside my high school when I was a junior). In Mekorama things quickly became too difficult for me  but I sense that this game would be difficult even for people who don’t have my proneness to becoming lost.

The mazes are not straightforward. You duck and weave through turrets, caves and towers. The only puzzling involved here is operating moving parts like bridges, elevators, or rotating spiral grates to alter each tiny building’s navigational routes. Mekorama is Tetris‘s cute pie cousin with the mega-watt eyelashes.

More photos because this game is so cool looking:

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