Christmas is a stressful time. The dread of family get-togethers, the apprehension that you won't be able to find the one perfect present, the fear that you won't be able to afford any presents (thanks economy), the horrible crowds at every shopping center, the whining children ("I want that one!"), the snarled traffic, those bell-ringing Santas blocking you wherever you go. Don't you just wish sometimes that it would all just go away? Okay, calm down, take a deep breath, we have a solution. Sit down and spend five minutes with Beard of Santa, a cute, surreal little room escape by Minoto.
Well, technically this isn't a room escape. Or any kind of escape, really. Except, perhaps, an escape from all the stress of the Holiday season, or from reality itself. Taking place in the most surreal house ever, where you turn from the living room to get to the garden, and from the garden to get to the kitchen, Beard of Santa is a quest. A quest to take revenge on the jolly fat elf who is making your life so miserable right now. Or maybe a quest to help him, who can tell?
Navigate through this topsy turvy space with the help of large arrows at the top sides of the screen. Click on everything to see what you can pick up. Click on an item in your inventory then click on the blue bar with a question mark to discover what exactly that item is. And please, you absolutely must use the "about item" question mark to examine everything you pick up. Trust me, you need to. Who knew Santa was that heavy? There's no changing cursor, but everything that you can pick up or use is pretty obvious on the screen.
Done up in Minoto's usual cutesy style, Beard of Santa looks lovely in its hand drawn, washed out pastel style. Thrill to the kitty gymnastics, marvel at Santa's other talent, and just enjoy yourself immensely for the five minutes or so that this little gem will take to complete.
Analysis: Where to even begin? Salvador Dali would have adored this game, it is that bizarre. Breezy, fun, cute casual gameplay at its finest. Okay, this is not the most difficult room escape ever featured here in Weekday Escape. Sometimes you just need a little something to brighten your day, don't you? Beard of Santa is guaranteed to do that. The end goal is a bit obscure, but hey, who needs logic all the time?
The only thing that would have made this experience better would be a bouncy holiday tune playing in the background as you watch in amazement some of the things this game does. Is it difficult or challenging? No. What Beard of Santa is, though, is the perfect mid-week pick-me-up, especially at this time of year. Fire up this little gem and learn what you've always suspected: cats are good gymnasts, raccoons are helpful gardeners, composting is good for the environment, and Santa really does suck sometimes, doesn't he?