This week's escape is... well, it's very different from the type of room escapes usually featured. Very different, quite unique, and cute enough to make you go awww. It's time for Tarutaru's Room (Tartar's Room), a short but beautiful game by Lilina's Escape.
The game begins as many escape games do, with a little cut scene explaining what's going on. Our little Tartar (elf tartar?) wants to go outside, but the mysterious appearance of a glowing pink and blue force field that slams him (her? it?) across the room means that exiting ain't gonna happen anytime soon. Once the cut scene is over you can begin exploring the room. Hey, there's a trash can! There's almost always a trash can in room escapes, and they're usually useful. When you click on it, though, you'll get a surprise. Rather than seeing into the can, or perhaps just acquiring what was in it, you are treated to a little cut scene where the tartar dumps out the trash can to see what is inside. That's right, for every action, whether it be picking something up, placing an object, or combining inventory items, you get a little cut scene showing the character performing the action, making Tarutaru's Room almost a little animated short film.
Navigation through the room is easily accomplished with arrows at the sides and bottom of the screen. Just click on an object to pick it up or examine it in close up. Be warned, however, there is no changing cursor, so there will be some pixel hunting involved. Fortunately, with one exception, everything you need is right out in the open. It is merely up to you to figure out what items in the space will be useful. Once an item goes into your inventory you will notice a tiny magnifying glass in the corner which allows you to pull up an item into close up to examine it further.
The artwork is simply awesome, beautifully rendered in 3D and done up mostly in earth tones. There are touches of color here and there, and very important items will often glow in beautiful pastel colors. If only there had been a musical accompaniment of some sort, then you would almost feel as if you were wandering through a Pixar feature.
Analysis: Why is it called Tarutaru's room? Well, prepare yourself for an ethnographic explanation. No wait, don't run away! Seriously, in Japanese words are comprised of syllables, so a word like Tartar — which refers to certain ethnic Mongolians (actually more properly called Tatars) — is spelled out in syllables, ta-ru-ta-ru. Why does the little Tartar (or Tatar, or Mongolian) have pointed ears? Um, you're on your own with that one.
The use of cut scenes showing every action taken makes Tarutaru's Room a very unique room escape experience. The game itself, stripped of all the showy elements, is pretty simple. There are some leaps of logic (or illogic) to be had, but most folks should make it through relatively easily.
This is a Japanese game, although you don't need to be able to read Japanese to make it through. In fact, with the exception of a book clue, there's no text at all in this game, and no number puzzles either. Tarutaru's room is entirely use of found objects. There is at least one color-based puzzle, which could make it difficult for some players.
Just because it's simple doesn't make Tarutaru's Room any less an enjoyable game to play. The cut scenes definitely slow down gameplay, but really add to the delightful experience. So brace yourself for an overload of cute and enjoy the fun of helping a little Tartar elf escape from Tarutaru's Room!