It was with much excitement, anticipation and just a wee bit of trepidation that I sat down today with Monster Basement 2, my immense love of escape games warring with my natural fear of the heebie-jeebies. It's true, I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to these sorts of things; one surprise 'monster jumping out-of-closet' moment and I'm shrieking like a (heh) little girl. But oh, the original Monster Basement was so fun, and clever, and unique... I just had to play through the sequel, even if it meant cringing each time I opened a door.
I'm very glad I did. Monster Basement 2 is every bit as entertaining and well-made as the original; like the first game, it is extraordinary for its thought-provoking plot and tense, eerie ambiance. Patrick Majewski, from Godlimations, has spared nothing in bringing his tale of monster-against-man-against-monster to life; major elements such as music and graphics are impeccably and creatively designed, and little macabre details (such as paintings that change when the lights are flipped off, yikes) bring this already strong framework to another level.
I don't want to ruin even a bit of the story's ingenuity, so I'm going to speak in somewhat general terms. At the beginning of Monster Basement 2, you have escaped from the basement itself and ascended into the house proper. To truly, finally exit this horrible place you need to find a wrench and a key; these will open the otherwise-impenetrable portal in the basement that leads to your freedom. But where are these things? And how, in a house full of hostile creatures, will you live to find them? You'll have to trust your wits, stay on your toes and trust an unlikely friend; in doing so, you'll further unravel the story of the house's frightening, tragic occupants and—if you're lucky—make it out in one piece.
The game is not perfect. The puzzles are, on the whole, great; a few times, however, the creators' inventiveness passes into the realm of confusion. The story, similarly, can occasionally become disjointed, with plot elements that ultimately are not explained. Another minor but annoying quibble is that, although the soundtrack itself is fabulous, every time you find something to collect the game seems to feel the need to scare the poop out of you. It's like, "Hm, I wonder what's between the wall and that desk. Let me just cli—OH GOD! SCARY MUSIC! What is it?! What—oh, it's just a box of matches. A box of matches?" Needless to say, for an already-jumpy person like myself it was not an ideal situation.
These criticisms pale, however, in the face of what an exceptional game Monster Basement 2 really is. Yes, it's very good looking and smoothly designed, yes, there are clever puzzles and chilling scares, but those things are not what make the game truly special; to me, what's most extraordinary about the game is the emotion at its core. There's real sadness and poignancy in the story, and that's something to be treasured.
Oh, and I really, strongly encourage you to play the original Monster Basement first if you have not yet done so. It is an excellent and highly enjoyable game in its own right, and will set the stage for the second game so that you can enjoy it to its maximum potential.
This time, it truly is escape: