Published by FM-Studio. I played this on android.
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:
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
Published by EXITs. I played this on android.
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 Elements: good cascade | readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity | typical solves
Published by nicolet.jp. I played this on android.
The Short: Nicolet.jp really is an oasis in the desert.
Recommended if you like baby saguaros
Description: Grains of sand can be as varied and beautiful as snowflakes. So too is the variety of games Nicolet.jp manages to churn out on a consistent basis. You can boop and bonk your way around this twee, succulent infused room, solve some interesting puzzles and bask in a sense of accomplishment once you’ve finished. This is a well made game that will stimulate your brain and please your senses.
Difficulty Elements: good cascade | readily-apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity | typical & unique solves
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 ArtDigic. I played this on android.
The Short: A feisty little game!
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 reviewed, Nordic2 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 Cottage, and everything done by the EXITs team.
Difficulty Elements: good cascade | both readily apparent and invisible puzzle arrays |straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity | both typical and unique solves