editorial: Key Appreciation

Finale Keys don’t have to be anything special. They just get the job done. Still, some publishers really go above and beyond to do something funny, fancy, or just plain wild with their Finale Keys. I love it. So I’ve started collecting screenshots of Finale Keys to share with you. Gallery after the jump:

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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


Published by hozdesign.  I played this on android.

The Short: Why? WHY?

Recommended if you like numbered rocks, magical tables

Description: I thought Table would be the one. I really did. I had hope, confidence, and love for this game. But hozdesign has betrayed me again. If you’re new here and don’t know what I’m talking about, read any of my past posts about this publisher.

This game is fun. It’s weird. It’s creepy and it’s hard. It is everything I like in an escape game. And then, right at the end, Table presents the player with a stupid, unintuitive and — in my opinion — unsolvable puzzle. I am shaking my head. I am sad. Why, hozdesign? Why?

Difficulty: Beyond Hard 
Difficulty Elements:
good cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays | esoteric interfaces | some Absurdity | unique solves


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

Bear’s Life: A failure-man story

Published by ROBAMIMI.  I played this on android.

The Short: This game is not noteworthy except for the incredible and unlikely family drama that plays out at the finale.

Recommended if you like bear humor, daytime television

Description: If — like me — you are deep inside the weird and often socially askew world of free, mobile escape games, Bear’s Life is a Must-Play. The game itself is not challenging nor is it particularly good. Instead, what sets Bear’s Life apart is the hilarious moral drama that is presented upon the game’s completion.

You begin by intruding upon a large bear who is reposing at his lovely shoreline bungalow. After bothering him and re-arranging his furniture, you ultimately help him to discover that he is not a “failure-man” as the full title of this game suggests. Instead, you give this bear another chance at life.  Don’t forget to retrieve the all-important hand written letter before you hop into the [sic] “boart” and drive away. I cannot overstate how amazing the conclusion of this game turns out to be. Despite the undeniable low quality, I highly recommend this game to any player looking for a unique experience.

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Difficulty: Easy 
Difficulty Elements: 
very little cascade | readily-apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | some 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.  

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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