Hat Cube

Published by nicolet.jp. I played this on android.   Seal of Goodness

The Short: Imaginative and cute.

Recommended if you like diminutive hats, nerds candy, Claire’s

Description: Sometimes during rush hour, I will elect to wait a little longer on the platform instead of boarding the overcrowded train in front of me. Sometimes I have to wait for not one, not two, but up to four or five trains to go by before there is space.  This is a great time of day for any escape game but it’s the perfect time for Hat Cube.

This game is cute. It is short. It is the most solid Easy game I have every played. Well designed and chock full of imaginative puzzle decisions (I’ve never used a ruler before in an escape game!). Nicolet.jp knows their stuff and I really enjoyed playing this. The cascade, in particular, is fantastic. There are plentiful nested puzzles in Hat Cube and each puzzle has a unique solve-technique. It’s not all keys and codes but instead a fun mix of different sorts of puzzle arrays. Plus, the whole world is kind of twee and adorable. And, best of all, you can solve the whole thing in the time it takes for four trains to pass you by.

Difficulty: Easy 
Difficulty Elements
excellent cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces| no Absurdity | unique solves


Kalaquli R

Published by 58 Works. I played this on android.

The Short: Kalaquli is a better escape game than most but it’s missing a crucial ingredient: cascade.

Recommended if you like tea houses under siege

Description: I like all of the following things about Kalaquli R: First, the aesthetics are good. Set in a Japanese(?) tea house that’s beset by dart-blowing ninjas, Kalaquili R features cool sliding doors, secret compartments and samurai artwork. As with the visuals, the sound in Kalaquli R succeeds at creating a cohesive place and mood. Second, I really love it when games “opens up” as the game proceeds. Kalaquli R has multiple tiers as you move through though I can’t say that they get harder or anything. The world merely expands. Puzzle quality was decent though definitely on the medium-easy side.

What’s missing from Kalaqui R is a sense that the puzzles interlock and relate to each other. Instead, it’s more of a fixed set of different puzzle areas that you extinguish, one at a time. A perfect example of this is the courtyard in this game. It’s an entire “room” and yet only 2 puzzles derive from it. Many escape games suffer from lack of cascade but Kalaqui R was a surprising one to fall into this trap because everything else about it was above average.

Difficulty Level: Medium
Difficulty Elements:  low cascade | both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays | straightforward interfaces | no Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

Doodle Cat

The Short: Play with a funny cat and craft more and more items for the cat to play with.

Recommended if you like cats, New Yorker cartoons, tamagotchis

Doodle Cat is not an escape game. I decided to include it here though because this game made a big impression on me. It’s very clever and the minimalist design is a lot of fun. If you like escape games, you would probably like Doodle Cat as well. It is low key and it has incredible cascade. In fact, the whole game is basically just cascade, cascade, cascade in the form of item crafting. You begin with a few elements and must combine them to create a vast trove of treasures for your cat.


Spotlight Room Escape

Published by Javelin Mobile. Played on android. 

The Short: 
Harder than the average escape game and, therefore, more rewarding. Also, clever use of a timer as a spook/narrative element.

Recommended if you like
atmospheric creeps, being timed, Franz Kafka.


Creep-realism with great music. I particularly like the puzzles in this series. This game has good cascade which puts it several cuts above your average escape game. There seems to be a small hint of mythology but mostly this is just clear cut puzzle solving in rooms that look like they belong in the movie Se7en. A beginner could hold their own in this series because the puzzles start out very straightforward.  A seasoned player will quickly advance to the more challenging levels.

Something unusual about this game is that you are timed. In the very first puzzle, this adds a very strong element of suspense. As you continue through, your finishing time on each level is recorded and measured against other players’. Kind of fun knowing what percentile you’re in.

Difficulty:  Medium
Difficulty Elementsgreat cascade | no Absurdity | invisible puzzle arrays | readily-apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward puzzles | typical solves | some unique solves