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

chotto_fusigi (aka Strange Little Searching)

Published by かもの巣窟 . I played this on android.

The Short: There is a cool central idea here but jeez Louise, that animation is painful.

Recommended if you like making your eyes bleed, magical shoe boxes

Description: Woof. Where to start. I’m not a big fan of chotto stuff to begin with but chotto_fusigi really pushes the envelope. These graphics are bad. Bad, bad, bad! It’s all very two dimensional and suffused with an offensive array of corals and pastels. The furniture is boxy, badly rendered and the zoom effects are jarring and fairly nauseating. In short: Barf.

That being said, I do have a couple of nice things to say about this game. The central mechanic in chotto_fusigi is actually kind of interesting. There is a row of shoe boxes in the middle of this game space. They are magical shoe boxes. As you go around the room, you will collect miniature pieces of furniture and if you place them into the shoe boxes, you will conjure life-sized pieces of furniture. I kind of liked this in theory but they could have done more to capitalize on this premise. All in all, though, stay away from this game.

Difficulty: Easy 
Difficulty Elements:
some cascade | readily apparent puzzle arrays | straightforward & esoteric interfaces | low Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

Escape the Ghost Town [Multiple Iterations]

Published by A-S-G. I played these on android.

Iterations: one through four

The Short: Simplistic game series with great atmosphere. In certain version you can actually “Skip” the puzzles if you find them too challenging. I find that hilarious. I mean, why are you even playing?

Recommended if you like pensive fog, the spirit world, velvet chokers

Description: This is an updated review. I already played and talked about the first Escape the Ghost Town before I knew there were three additional games.

Escape the Ghost Town has an interesting aesthetic. At first, I was tempted to situate this game within Design Netherworld but then I checked myself. At the very least, Escape the Ghost Town is not making its digs in downtown, south central Netherworld. If anything, it’s more out in the Netherworld’s most respected suburbs. This game features standard issue haunted houses with spooky garden grounds, weird marble statues, sheds full of saws, and heavily carpeted indoor spaces that strongly imply musk and dampness. The music is actually quite nice. The overall effect is a cohesive game space that usually trades in “passable” but occasionally creates a somewhat interesting room or sequestered garden area.

Escape the Ghost Town is a perfectly nice set of games. They’re fairly easy.

Difficulty Level: Easy
Difficulty Elements: low cascade | readily-apparent puzzle arrays |no Absurdity | typical solves

Chotto Escape 006 [Multiple Iterations]

Published by かもの巣窟 . I played this on android.

Iterations: 001 – 006

The Short: I accidentally played 006 first. I would rather get a paper cut than play o01 – 005.

Recommended if you like being trapped in freaky dollhouses, grating saxophones

Description: From a puzzling perspective, Chotto Escape 006 was fine. It was the aesthetic and atmospheric stuff that really turned me off. To be clear, this is not a horror/creep themed game. And yet, it sure felt like one. Maybe I just have some un-dealt with issues surrounding bears with giant doll heads, claustrophobic grass, and shrill saxophone music. I can’t say for sure why but this game made me feel like I needed an adult.

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

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. 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:

 

Difficulty Level: Hard
Difficulty Elements:  lots of cascade| both readily apparent & invisible puzzle arrays | both straightforward & esoteric interfaces | some Absurdity | both typical & unique solves

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