This Is Not An Escape


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TrickyThis Is Not An EscapeYou wake up in a field. You have no memory of who you are or how you got there. How cliche. It's a nice enough place. There are trees, a pond, a road... and a fellow on a bike coming down that road. Maybe he'll have some answers. Maybe he won't. But you know you just can't stay here... This Is Not An Escape is an interactive movie adventure by Something's Awry Productions, and an entry in our escape-themed Casual Gameplay Design Competition #10. It's a slow paced, artistic kind of work that uses YouTube as its medium, as much as film or gaming.

Competition second place award winnerWatch each video, exploring the suburban environment, until you are prompted to make a decision. Select a choice by clicking the designated annotation, which will take you to the next video in sequence. Occasionally, clues in the video will lead you to various pass codes to enter by clicking, and, when prompted to, it should be done quickly, as the annotations are quite time sensitive. Also, the More Info tab in the upper right of the imbed will often reveal extra bits of information or commentary.

Analysis: The worlds of games, especially escape games, are often empty places. Indeed, in many of the genre, the only motivations as to why you want to leave the place where you are trapped, is that it is lonely, and that getting out is what the game wants you to do. The emptiness of a world where fellow human beings are missing, replaced by codes and contraptions designed to who knows what purpose, is sinister enough in itself that few games take the time to question why we're in such a friggin' hurry. This Is Not An Escape is one that does.

This Is Not An EscapeMake no mistake. This Is Not An Escape is not a deconstuction of the genre. Parody is not its aim. Rather it is an examination of escapism, and the creative processes behind those avenues in which people escape. Perhaps it is a little too self-aware of its own clever meta-techniques, but it is also self-aware about being too self-aware, so it all works out somehow. Clearly, the creators of the work approached This is Not an Escape as a film as well as a game. Interactive movies have been derided for being neither very interactive, nor being particularly great movies. This Is Not An Escape shows what can be accomplished when a creator has the proper grasp of both cinematic story-telling and form. Particularly, the whole thing would have fallen apart if it wasn't for Nik Theorin's fine work as the protagonist. The character by definition needs to be a bit of a blank slate, so that any player feels comfortable escaping with him, a thankless task for any actor. But he gives off the right kid brother mix of vulnerability, inquisitiveness, and exasperation that, if played less subtly would have doomed the work to cheesiness. In the end, though, it's the creator's willingness to lay out both his talents and his manipulations, that makes This is Not An Escape such a breath of fresh air.

This Is Not An EscapeThe game's flaws are mainly the result of attempting to construct complex input on a platform that was never intended to be used for such. This Is Not An Escape uses so many annotations to make its puzzles work, and while it's certain that it was more than a little tedious to put together, it's kludgey all the same. This, coupled with complex puzzles designed by a first-time gamemaker with limited playtesting time, definitely hurts the flow. But then again, what is an escape game without puzzles that you must consult the walkthrough for?

This Is Not An Escape approaches CGDC 10's "Escape" theme in a way both novel and familiar, and it makes for a mind-twist of an experience. Clearly this entry was a labor of love for its creator, and the result is something well worth watching, and well worth playing.

Author's Theme interpretation:

"The game incorporates Escape in two ways. First the main goal of the game is to escape the place you are in. Second, the game also examines the idea of escapism. The game constantly draws attention to the fact that the person who is playing it is "escaping" into the game. So while the character tries to get out, the player is trying to get in. I thought that this would be an interesting idea to base a game around." -Something's Awry Productions

Pastel Games' feedback:

"Well, you said it. :D"

"But joking aside - this is a game and this is an escape (of sorts). I have to admit, on the first playthrough I clicked that I don't want to escape and the game ended. So I should base my review on this part alone. But then played again to be fair."

"I think it might be a good idea to somehow alter the color in the movies, to give them some ethereal feeling. As it is - they're just home videos, if you know what I mean. Just small changes in hue and saturation might do the trick."

"I hate letters that show up on the screen one after another. Most people read faster than they appear, so we have to wait for them. Much better and smoother solution would be to just make the whole block of text appear at once. The simplest solutions are usually the best."

"The puzzle level was incredibly difficult as for a youtube game where we just click through videos. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. Probably could use simpler puzzles for the beginners. Like multiple choice puzzles where the answer is given in some other chunk of the video."

"There are some other gameplay issues, but those are caused by the youtube environment, not the game itself, so I won't hold that against you."

"This game gets a bit boring after a while. Again - not sure if it's the medium, or the "gameplay" was a bit too slow."

"Anyway - what seems to be a nice simple concept - is actually very complicated work of putting all the links and annotations in the right place. Kudos." -Mateusz Skutnik.

"I really like the idea but... this game is designed for someone who really likes waiting. Just a few puzzles and a lot of scenes which I just wanted to skip quickly. It was hard to understand what it's all about... So, I like the concept and appreciate the effort, but it wasn't fun (especially when the ads came out of nowhere in between the movies)." -Karol Konwerski.


Play This Is Not An Escape

Walkthrough Guide


(Please allow page to fully load for spoiler tags to be functional.)

A Walkthrough

Note: This game relies on exploration and has multiple paths for players to take. Therefore this walkthrough is only on solving the puzzles that are necessary to proceed through the game.

Part 1

There are a variety of options, but no puzzles until Man on Bike asks you if you want to escape. If you click "No" you can see a short alternate ending. Otherwise click "yes."

Choose "head down the street". Then Choose "Go to pond." Note the numbers that are written down on the rock. It helps to write them down.

16
2
1
12

Click back.

Choose "head up the street." Then "go to driveway." Then "examine lamppost." Write down what you see written there.

is 2
is 4
is 3
is 1

Click back

Choose "go to front door". Then "examine laptop." Note the phrase written at the top of the screen.

Key to moving forward

We now have all the clues needed to complete this puzzle. Maybe we can combine some of them?

If you line up the two numbers you get:
16 is 2
2 is 4
1 is 3
12 is 1

The 16th letter is the second letter of the code
The 2nd letter is the fourth letter of the code
The 1st letter is the third letter of the code
The 12th letter is the first letter of the code
Now lets apply this to the phrase "Key to moving forward."

You get the word "FAKE". Type that in as the password.

Part 2

There are no puzzles until you have gotten the cube. After you have done that choose "go through door." Note what you find written on the boat.

"Up arrow, left arrow, left arrow, Up arrow, then adjust" Note that the up arrows and the word "adjust" are in green.

Choose "examine cube thingy." You are given the choice of rotating the cube or looking more closely at the side facing you. But which side do we look at?

From the side you start at rotate it Up, then left, then left again, then up.

Click "look". Do you see the clue?

From the right perspective the shapes make numbers.

These numbers are 5034

Click back

Choose "use phone." Now we got that number but that sign with the arrows said "then adjust."

Why don't we match up with each arrow with a number:
5 Up arrow, 0 left arrow, 3 left arrow, 4 up arrow.

The word "adjust" and the up arrows are in green. Why don't we adjust the numbers with the up arrows up one to get 6035.

The Creator apologizes if this part is too elaborate and/or difficult and is sorry for any frustration that it caused. Input the phone number.

Part 3

There are no puzzles until you enter the boat house. Once in there choose "examine note".

It's a speech bubble saying "!%&$" and another thing saying "#'s"

Choose "go outside." Then "Examine Chairs". This brings up another password screen. What can we use to figure out the code?

We saw that speech bubble that says "!%&$." How can we change that into numbers?

Look at your keyboard. Each symbol corresponds to the number on it's key. !=1, %=5, &=7, $=4. 1574.

Type the number in.

Choose go down stairs. See what is written on the note.

Be back later
Speech bubble minus [same][2][same][same]

Choose "Go back through door." Then "Go through door." This brings you to a clock that you can set. What time should we set it to?

Speech bubble minus [same][2][same][same]. The number that the speech bubble translated to was 1574. Lets match each of the squares with a number. 1[same],5[2],7[same],4[same].

For the "same"'s lets take the number it is paired with and replace it with that. That was awkwardly phrased but it makes sense right?
1574-1274=300=3:00

Set the clock to that time then hit "back". Then choose "go outside".

29 Comments

At first, I was a bit confused by the concept but I must say I rather enjoyed it! I need to go back and find more endings.
The talk about "The Hyperreality" was thoughtful.

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This was fun, but the cube puzzle seemed either a bit broken or too complex. I ended up brute forcing the phone number by making a note of the times all of the buttons took you too and finding the ones which changed.

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fireflyiers Author Profile Page September 5, 2012 3:00 PM

I found this game refreshingly original out of all the CDGC games I found this one the most original and interesting. Amazing game! Funny and Unique! Great Job!

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Lovely! This is the future of escape! At the beginning it seemed more like a "choose your own advencture" but it quickly became an engaging escape.

2 problems:
1. I never got the code for the computer. It seemed to just let me in the house after randomly clicking.

2. The phone

I used the clues to get me to the numbers 1-2-9 but can't get the last digit.

I used Riiick's suggestion, but still couldn't figure it out.

Can't wait for a walkthrough to clear it up.

Definitely the best I've played so far of this group.

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I predict this is in contention for 2nd against "Somewhere in England, 1928" in the CGDC #10.

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Clipartman Author Profile Page September 5, 2012 8:11 PM

A Walkthrough

Note: This game relies on exploration and has multiple paths for players to take. Therefore this walkthrough is only on solving the puzzles that are necessary to proceed through the game.

Part 1

There are a variety of options, but no puzzles until Man on Bike asks you if you want to escape. If you click "No" you can see a short alternate ending. Otherwise click "yes."

Choose "head down the street". Then Choose "Go to pond." Note the numbers that are written down on the rock. It helps to write them down.

16
2
1
12

Click back.

Choose "head up the street." Then "go to driveway." Then "examine lamppost." Write down what you see written there.

is 2
is 4
is 3
is 1

Click back

Choose "go to front door". Then "examine laptop." Note the phrase written at the top of the screen.

Key to moving forward

We now have all the clues needed to complete this puzzle. Maybe we can combine some of them?

If you line up the two numbers you get:
16 is 2
2 is 4
1 is 3
12 is 1

The 16th letter is the second letter of the code
The 2nd letter is the fourth letter of the code
The 1st letter is the third letter of the code
The 12th letter is the first letter of the code
Now lets apply this to the phrase "Key to moving forward."

You get the word "FAKE". Type that in as the password.

Part 2

There are no puzzles until you have gotten the cube. After you have done that choose "go through door." Note what you find written on the boat.

"Up arrow, left arrow, left arrow, Up arrow, then adjust" Note that the up arrows and the word "adjust" are in green.

Choose "examine cube thingy." You are given the choice of rotating the cube or looking more closely at the side facing you. But which side do we look at?

From the side you start at rotate it Up, then left, then left again, then up.

Click "look". Do you see the clue?

From the right perspective the shapes make numbers.

These numbers are 5034

Click back

Choose "use phone." Now we got that number but that sign with the arrows said "then adjust."

Why don't we match up with each arrow with a number:
5 Up arrow, 0 left arrow, 3 left arrow, 4 up arrow.

The word "adjust" and the up arrows are in green. Why don't we adjust the numbers with the up arrows up one to get 6035.

The Creator apologizes if this part is too elaborate and/or difficult and is sorry for any frustration that it caused. Input the phone number.

Part 3

There are no puzzles until you enter the boat house. Once in there choose "examine note".

It's a speech bubble saying "!%&$" and another thing saying "#'s"

Choose "go outside." Then "Examine Chairs". This brings up another password screen. What can we use to figure out the code?

We saw that speech bubble that says "!%&$." How can we change that into numbers?

Look at your keyboard. Each symbol corresponds to the number on it's key. !=1, %=5, &=7, $=4. 1574.

Type the number in.

Choose go down stairs. See what is written on the note.

Be back later
Speech bubble minus [same][2][same][same]

Choose "Go back through door." Then "Go through door." This brings you to a clock that you can set. What time should we set it to?

Speech bubble minus [same][2][same][same]. The number that the speech bubble translated to was 1574. Lets match each of the squares with a number. 1[same],5[2],7[same],4[same].

For the "same"'s lets take the number it is paired with and replace it with that. That was awkwardly phrased but it makes sense right?
1574-1274=300=3:00

Set the clock to that time then hit "back". Then choose "go outside".

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Impeccable. The time and thought that went into this game, the filming, the story-telling, the programming...is mind-blowing and tedious. I entered into the game 100%. THIS is interactive fiction and can't wait to play other film/games. Please make more soon!

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Nice idea and platform, but... the plot.... is really... really... reallllly... messing up with my mind. I've decided to be content with walkthroughing this so that my head no longer hurt.

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What's great about this is that its success (in my mind) leapfrogs over any issues of quality (of script/acting/camerwork which are all good at the very least) and 'gameplay' and provides us with an absolutely excellent example of effort and thought in submitting a different game.

For that it gets my vote. Well done and very good effort!

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Beautiful. Simply beautiful. Absolutely everything is perfect. The story, the atmosphere, the game, the camerawork, the acting. Everything. I love it.

Everything truly clicked when the character turned to me and asked why he should go down there. That's when everything made sense. It caught me off-guard and showed that the character had a bit of his own personality.

The puzzles were actually challenging, but not too much so.

One thing with the clock puzzle, I inserted the modified code as a combination, but still got the right time.

All in all, 5/5 on all accounts. Innovation especially. A shame it isn't eligible for prizes, but I think it was one of the crown jewels, so far.

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Nice! Original, funny, and a great way to implement the things that get boring in most point and click escape games without being too simplistic.

I did have one little problem--I clicked "back" in the screen at the lamp post and the game screen was replaced with one of those multi-choice YouTube screens. When I clicked on the lamp post link, it took me out to YouTube and when I hit the back button on my browser, it reloaded the game at the beginning. Help!

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Absolutely loved this one. I don't know that the puzzles were even really necessary, but I guess that moves it from "choose your own adventure" to "game"?

Anyway, I've only played about half of the competition games as of yet, but this is the best one by far.

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...also, I got pretty emotional at the end,

when the Character thanks the player,

but I think that might be because the Character reminds me so much of my little brother for some reason, and I hardly ever get to see him.

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Just when you think escape games have become a bit rote, lo and behold, something new comes along to awaken your dulled senses. I wasn't sure in the beginning if I was going to like it; I kept wanting to "look behind that tree" or "find that blasted screwdriver I would be needing later", but I hung in there and really got drawn in. I loved it!! It really was beautiful.
This is the first time for me to post about a game (and I've been playing games for about well several yrs now, I know...it's sad)but I just wanted to add my support.
p.s....great competition!!

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My only problem with this game is that some of the answers were hard to select due to the YouTube banners along the top and bottom of the screen when I mouse over them.

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Hehe, I love meta games like this. I like how it plays with the fourth wall without breaking the tone.

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I wouldn't call these puzzles exactly difficult, just poorly designed.

For the first puzzle I tried first the alphabetic order, then the qwerty order. Then I just brute-forced the thing waiting through the video until a link to a different one appeared. But that one was ok, I could have eventually figured out the numbers referred to the sentence at the top.

The second puzzle had me clicking the keys for 2034-ADJUST for a while. Then I looked at the walkthrough. Where the heck is supposed to be that first 5? That piece of white paper looks like a 2, man. And the arrows as a double clue? No way I could have figured this one out.

The third puzzle is too US centric, not everyone has these symbols above the right numbers. Fortunately it is transparent enough and you can easily find US keyboard layout pictures. The "same" thing is also difficult to figure out, I thought all 3 numbers were the same and the only solution that didn't produce negative subtractions was 1211, so 1574-1211=0363. Close enough, since minutes can't be changed I set the clock to 03:00 and fluked it out.

So, brilliant idea, nice music selection, beautiful place you have, great success! Determination achieved, narcissistic points scored. Just play a few more escape games yourself, or run your game through some beta testers to get the hang of puzzle designing. Consider including a happy coin :-) and thanks for sharing.

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I love puzzle games, and this one was amazing. My favorite by far. It's a Choose Your Own Adveture game combined with what I love about puzzles. The third puzzle was just perfect--just the right amount of difficulty and not plainly obvious--but the first two I couldn't figure out, even after I had all the clues.

The first was just bauffling, but the second was my own fault misreading the 5 as a 2 and then forgetting to adjust. I'm sure I would have gotten it eventually, but I already had the walkthrough up after the first laptop. I had all the numbers set up properly for the first puzzle, but there was no way I could make them spell FAKE. I ended up with LPAB as the closest approximation to the numbers.

I think the Creator got into the groove by the third puzzle. With a little reworking on the puzzles, the whole game would be amazing and worth doing again!

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Hello everyone, want to say thank you for all the wonderful feedback you are giving. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only interested in post modern philosophical concepts.

I know a lot of people had difficulties with the puzzles. I want to apologize for that, I didn't have enough time to playtest the game and I think I was operating under the incorrect assumption that everybody but me on Jayisgames was the type of person who is able to solve the Submachine puzzles without walkthroughs. I can promise you that any future games I make will have much better puzzles.

I am glad that the majority of people seemed to like it. This has exceeded all my expectations. Thank you so much!
-The Creator

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Wow.

I'm going to have to spoiler this review for length and excessive gushing:

I came into this game after reading the description, expecting a snarky parody of escape games. Which would have been well and good.

But what I didn't expect was postmodern philosophy, beautiful effects and filmography, and an excellent choice of music. I didn't expect something so truly thought-provoking and immersive that for a while, I forgot my habit of going back to check through the choices I skipped to see all of the dialogue, just because I was so excited to see what the experience would bring. I didn't expect an author with such a strong grasp of how to use atmosphere, single powerful moments, and audience expectations to mold the experience. I didn't expect a game planned so carefully and one that made full use of its medium. It was amazing.

Even if the Creator was narcissistic(Which I don't feel he is), I'd say he has the right to be.

Anyways, on a more technical side, the puzzles were a bit too difficult for my wimpy brain. After reading the walkthroughs, I feel the first two puzzles were a little vague and could be interpreted a bit too many ways:

the first puzzles clues could be interpreted as finding the corresponding letter in the alphabet instead of in the phrase.

I honestly couldn't see the numbers in the cube for the second puzzle, and even then, "Adjust" could have been interpreted to mean the button directly above each number, or one number less, since the phone buttons are arranged that way.

The third puzzle was the only one I could solve by myself. But I'm never good at solving escape game puzzles, so I don't think I can judge.

Speaking of which, this game incorporated the theme really well. The interpretation of escape to mean "The player escaping into a game" was one of the first things I thought of when I saw the competition theme. The game here brought up the subject really well. Even with the somewhat predictable "This guy you're looking at is just a gaming abstraction" idea, the game put it's own spin on that.

Anyways, I feel like I could just keep gushing about this all day, so I'll stop here.

tl;dr: This game is mind-blowingly awesome, man.

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anachronista Author Profile Page September 16, 2012 11:27 PM

Perhaps because I mostly enjoy the puzzle aspect of escape games, the video format feels like very low information density. Very low.

Watching "myself" walking or looking confused is just a lag between decision and result. Unfortunately, that's most of the game.

Also, action options seem really limited, usually just linear. Possibly, the video-realism makes these limitations more frustrating than they would be in more illustrative formats.

Finally, the shifting perspective is confusing. Am I first person or third person? What's the value of watching myself when I don't change? Why can I see myself looking at things without being able to see what I'm looking at?

All of these critiques aside, I applaud the innovation of the game's creator. The camerawork and setting are also very good. Ultimately, I'd like to see this type of game evolve---but, ideally, with a lot more game in the gameplay.

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Am I the only person who doesn't really like this game? Personally I liked the concept of this game, but found its implementation rather frustrating.

Firstly, this game is a lot of waiting. Actually there aren't too many puzzles, just a lot of scenes which I just wanted to skip over quickly.

Secondly, I find that YouTube is a particular poor platform for this kind of games.
(a) When a selection is not made by the end of the video, I have to drag the slider back. It breaks the feeling somewhat.
(b) Occasionally things do not load properly, for example, I had annotations that didn't load and hence I could not proceed. Not the fault of the creator, but simply the nature of using YouTube as a platform. How does it feel like if I have to do things like closing the browser and reopening it, or even entering commands like "ipconfig /release" and "ipconfig /renew" mid-game? I rather have a game that downloads everything at the beginning rather than a game that downloads throughout the game.
(c) The very nature of YouTube also restricts the kind of interactions that is possible. For example, it is not possible to drag items. It makes supposedly simple actions seem very convoluted. Why should a single button press result in more loading?

Thirdly, not being a native to the location of the creator, I have some difficulty understanding a few portions of the speech. Please, don't present vital information only through audio.

The puzzles were difficult, but I am not really complaining here. Although it can be a bit hard to get into the lines of thoughts of the creator.

Overall, a game with a very interesting concept, showing a real-life main character in an escape game, something really novel. And it is very obvious that the creator spent a great deal of effort into making the game. He even created videos for getting feedback, but I felt that he asked the wrong questions in his survey. It is these implementation issues that interrupted the game flow sufficiently that I never really got into the right mood for playing it.

I was deciding between two or three stars, and ultimately gave it three. But I have to admit, this concept holds a lot of promise. I hope to see more of such games, just better implemented and less frustrating.

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librarysmiles Author Profile Page September 29, 2012 5:24 AM

Pretty place. Where was the film series location?

"Hyperreality" was the only word of explanation necessary.

The first cube number looks like an upside down 2 rather than a backwards 5.

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infanttyrone Author Profile Page September 29, 2012 6:56 PM

Great idea, nicely executed. Some of the heady conceptual stuff was a little bit sophomoric, but the heart is in the right place. Overall I liked this one, and hope there's something else coming from the writer/producer.

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fumblemouse Author Profile Page September 30, 2012 4:25 PM

I thought this was an incredibly creative, bold and , yes, brave use of a completely different medium. There were a few kinks to work out - some of which which may or may not be surmountable because of the medium, and had it been snappier it would have overcome a lot of difficulties in immersion, but I can only applaud the production values that were apparent, that kept me involved long after the general concept had come through.

Also - calibrating puzzles is a difficult art (and one I have yet to master), but the mere fact that you were able to implement puzzles in such a medium is a jaw-droppingly clever technique that I've certainly never seen before. Well done on breaking new ground!

I think this might be one occasion where the dream was a little bigger than the grasp, but to come so tantalisingly close on the first try is really exciting, and I'd be watching out for whatever this team comes up with next.

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lycyfyrsam Author Profile Page October 1, 2012 3:35 PM

the most interesting thing about this, to me, is not that i wake up in a field & dont know who i am [thats possible] but that i wake up in a field, dont know who i am & am suddenly a twenty year old blond boy [thats not].

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Clipartman Author Profile Page October 1, 2012 10:47 PM

@lycyfyrsam Actually you are a fourteen year-old blondish-brown haired boy. :)

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This is an ambitious and lovely game. I have so many nice things to say about it. I thought the pacing was perfect - not too slow at all. Just watching the main character walk around by the pond during the title sequence while the music played gave me a strong emotional reaction. The tone was peaceful yet mysterious - just right. Also, the camera work and acting were both spot-on.

The only downside for me were the first two puzzles, which were ridiculously hard. Even after reading the walkthrough I didn't see how I was supposed to come to those answers on my own. But the third puzzle was very well-designed.

The tone of this really reminded me of the "Something Amiss" series, which is funny because the developer is "Something's Awry." I wonder if that's a coincidence...

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kennypoland2112 Author Profile Page October 6, 2012 10:36 PM

This was just great. I thought the first puzzle about medium difficulty. The second I just didnt understand even with the walk-through. The last one was easy. I hope to find more games of this type.

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