Ah, the title Ancient Scripts is a fantastic one for a room escape, isn't it? It conjures up visions of Indiana Jones and hunting through dark, mysterious ruins seeking a hidden treasure. So does Robamimi's latest escape actually take place in a tomb, or a cave, or a pyramid? Sadly, no, but don't let that put you off, no indeed. Ancient Scripts may take place in a sedately furnished modern room, but it is definitely worth checking out. And, hey, no snakes or spiders jumping out of dark corners, so that's a plus!
While Ancient Scripts is sadly lacking in far away places, skeletons, or jump scares what it does supply is some fantastic room escaping. This is a standard one and a half room escape, but what it lacks in story or background it makes up for with tricky puzzles and easy on the eyes scenery. Navigation is the usual bars and arrows at the edges of the screens, and there's a lovely changing cursor to indicate areas of interest. As you explore you need to find a few objects, solve a few puzzles, and eventually you will make it out into the sunshine. And, hey, no strange giant rabbit to appease this time around.
Even better than the lovely backgrounds is the musical accompaniment which is...not music at all. Instead as you search frantically for a way out you will be serenaded with splendid recordings of wild birds which only add to the atmosphere of isolation in this sparsely furnished room. The birdsong is a nice change from room escape designers using the same music clip over and over and over again (I'm looking at you, Tesshi-e). For folks who are colorblind there is at least one color-based puzzle so be warned, escaping might be a bit difficult for you.
Analysis: There's a lot of debate about what makes a good escape game. Some folks prefer snazzy graphics, some folks prefer tough puzzles, and some folks prefer easy puzzles. I, myself, prefer a game where everything flows together logically from point A to point B and on and on until you reach point Z and hopefully escape. Robamimi has always done this, but they add a little something extra that elevates their games above much of the pack, elegance.
I can hear it right now. "Sure, the backgrounds are nice, but elegant?" That's not what we're talking about here. Elegance in both hints and puzzles is something hard to define, but it's the difference between staring at something for a while and having a light bulb go off above your head ("oh, that's what I'm supposed to do") or having a shiver run down your spine ("wow, so that's what that means!"). Robamimi tends to traffic in really elegant clues and solutions, and a perfect example of that can be found in the last Robamimi escape we featured, Hermit Rabi and Wonder Fountain. The wobbly picture puzzle has been done so many times before, but rarely has a clue for the solution been so...elegant, and what made it even better was that the clue itself was not just the solution to the picture puzzle (spoiler alert!), but also doubled as the first route in the maze. In Ancient Scripts, Robamimi has gone one better and produced two clues that serve double duty for two puzzles each, upping that "wow" factor even more.
The puzzles in Ancient Scripts are not the hardest we've ever seen, but if the only criteria for a good escape game was terribly difficult puzzles then Smile for Me would have a much better rating than it has. What Ancient Scripts has that many other games don't have though is that indefinable elegance of design, in the controls, in the backgrounds, and most especially in the puzzles. It's time for your mid-week break, and this one is a doozy! Just don't be expecting the title to have much to do with the game and you'll do just fine.