It's one thing to find yourself locked in a pleasant little tea room or bakery shop, with cookies and coffee on hand and a refreshing breeze wafting through the window. It's another to suddenly awaken in the depths of an ancient temple, your mind muddled by time, the stench of decay thick in the air. The only clues to your identity are a series of hastily-scrawled notes strewn about your cell; your only chance of escape is through an impenetrable stone door. Welcome to the world of Psionic Games, masters of the horror-themed point-and-click game. Escape Eternity is their latest escape game for browsers and Android devices, but this time, there's a three-dimensional twist: Your murky, claustrophobic tomb is rendered in glorious 3D in Unity. You'll still navigate using your mouse, clicking on objects and arrows to move around the room. The orange, "i"-shaped button in the upper right corner holds your inventory, where you can click on items to either use them or examine them. Peer deep into every nook and cranny of your grim surroundings, even when hideous things hide within, and keep a close watch for even the tiniest scrap of paper. Someone might have wanted to trap you here, but someone else seems to want you to run free...
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Rose Key's Scales Escape may not have a lot of weight (hurr hurr), but you'll still need to use your brain if you want to escape. Hidden around the room you're trapped in you'll not only find items to use, but clues and ciphers for puzzles as well. The cursor will change when you can interact, so all you have to do to play is click to look around, and remember to view any items you pick up with the "about item" function, since it can not only tell you what an item is (helpful) but perhaps even reveal secrets or more clues when you interact with it (helpful-er).
So much about life is uncertain, each day so new and full of possibilities, it's impossible to imagine what could be next. If you're the anxious sort of individual, you might be a little rattled by how little time is actually under our control. But not today, my friend. Today you have Weekday Escape; here you are the master of your domain—the room in which you are captive. And the three free escape games we have for you this week are as comforting in their predictability while still being just fresh enough and creative enough to whisk you away from all your other worries. If you have a few minutes to spare, then indulge in the sweet goodness awaiting in FunkyLand's fruit kitchen, pause for halftime in Hottategoya's strange locker room, then finish by puzzling over Yomino Kagura's three pictures...
It's sort of pointless to go through the efforts of getting your clothes spiffy and fresh-smelling if you don't have anywhere to go once you've cleaned up. Why not treat yourself to a day of sophistication and refinement, enriching your senses as well as your cultural aptitude? Spend an afternoon browsing an art museum. This is exactly the plan for the day in Aries Escape: Episode No.14—except as this is an escape game, the day takes a turn when you're trapped inside a strange exhibit. Here, a new type of medium is on display: the puzzle as art. It's all quite interesting but...where is the door? If you're ever going to leave these two rooms, rather than turning into a new mummified display, Pas de Fuite, you need to look beyond the surface and hone your art interpretation skills. Following the arrows to navigate, and pointing-and-clicking on active zones, explore everything around you, keeping eyes peeled for hints and items to guide your way. Both the clean, clear design and changing cursor aid your progress, while a "save" button will let you discover both endings without having to play through twice.
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Short and sweet with just the right amount of challenge, Tototo Room's Button Escape 24 is as strange an escape game as you could wish for without getting Detarou involved. To get out, not only will you need to crack some codes and solve some puzzles (all without an inventory!) but you'll need to find and click eleven gray buttons as well. The cursor doesn't change to show what you can interact with, but as long as you keep your eyes open and your brain working, you'll be out in no time... right?
For coy playfulness and understated charm, Yonashi's escape games are like little treasures found in the window of a whimsical shop in some quaint seaside town you visit on vacation. They're colorful toys that wordlessly catch your attention from afar and draw you in, leaving you to ponder over little details that seem incongruous with the rest of the parts, pieces of inventory that make no sense, until they do. Mori Room serves as a quintessential example of these Yonashi traits, with a few quirks thrown in. You start with the basic locked-up-in-a-room setup—point and click to navigate and examine all this setting has to offer. Its subtitle, "Chameleon, etc." has it about right, too; a uniquely talented chameleon and an assortment of other fine friends, both animal and inanimate, will guide you through puzzles until you reach your ultimate destination: a fantastical escape.
The Wheel of Time turns, and days come and pass, and before you know it, it's Wednesday again and time for Weekday Escape. It's been a while since you escape game aficionados and I had a chat, so I knocked Elle over the head with a sock full of pennies and left her tied up in a room with a goldfish, a screwdriver, a ticket stub, some coloured plates, Gumby fanfiction, and the jumbled sonnets of a 14th century unknown poet. None of those will actually get her out in any combination, but she doesn't know that, so I've bought you and I a few hours together at least. So what's new? How do you like the new Doctor? Is that a new shirt? Do you want to look at my pony collection? What should we order on our pizza?... man, you don't even care, do you? You just want the games. No, no. It's fine. It's not like I count the minutes until we're together again. Have some Gotmail, Yomino Kagura, and some Choko Chai. Good thing game reviewers don't have feelings or anything.
I'm conflicted. On the one hand, TomaTea's Room 39 is as lovely and challenging an escape game as you'd expect, but on the other hand, its soundtrack makes me feel like I should be 85 and back somewhere in the "old country" in the middle of a snowfall wearing my grandmother's babushka. Which couldn't be further from the actuality, since the room our beloved yet fiendish developer has locked us up in this time is all buttery yellows and flowery decor, complete with what I choose to believe are memorial Hatoful Boyfriend statuettes. To find your way out, you will of course need to solve puzzles, and as per TomaTea's usual, the game will inform you whether you've encountered the clue you need to solve them by telling you that you have no idea how to solve it. The tip of the cursor will glow slightly if you're hovering over an interactive area, and items in your inventory will pop up a small "i" icon when you mouse over them, allowing you to view them close up with a click.
Funkyland continues to live up to the name with Alice House: No. 3 House of White Rabbit, an escape game that looks frilly and sweet, but is just a little bit weird, sort of like a restrained version of its source material. The White Rabbit Hole had you searching for, well, rabbits, and with The Pool of Tears it was dodoes. This time, you're searching for items emblazoned with lizards, because why not? Click around to interact, and since your cursor won't change to highlight any interactive areas, you'll want to scour everywhere. Not that you have much to scour, since House of White Rabbit is a very small game indeed. Keep your eyes peeled for clues, and click any item you're carrying to "equip" it for use.
At the end of the day, the important thing to remember is not whether you seized it—it is about whether you've learned what needs knowing and are ready to apply that knowing to the unknown: i.e. tomorrow. Well, tomorrow will be eventually upon us, dear readers, but for now it's worthwhile to have ourselves a bit of vacation. A get-away-from-it-all-and-forget-yer-troubles sort of thing. That is where our illustrious friends, the room escape game designers, speak from the heart. Whether hurrying through the midst of a bustling city or lazying near an island beach, everyone needs a chance to escape. Thus Weekday Escape is just what everybody needs! This time around FunkyLand is red all over with a return of the whimsical Candy Rooms series, Yuri's darling chicks give hide-and-seek another go, and Yomino Kagura presents a puzzling A-B-C...
One of the five love languages is gift giving and no gift speaks from the heart more than home baked cookies. But when you live inside Lo.Nyan's house, baking involves more than opening a bag of Pepperidge Farms onto a plate and spreading frosting on top (this method works in other situations, though; believe me, no one would ever question you). Not only do you have to find all the proper cookie ingredients and bake them up proper, you must also escape the room. Ergo making your way out of the lovely and whimsical Lo.Nyan's Room Escape 12 means donning your sleuth's cap under your baker's hat, finding useful items and solving the puzzles sprinkled about the room. This is done easily because of Lo.Nyan's user friendly UI—with a simple point-and-click you can explore your surroundings, pick up items, examine and combine inventory, and even use a camera to take pictures of clues. Any inventory item that works as a clue can be "held": use "about item" then click the arrow to shift it to the left so neither screenshots nor note-taking are needed to solve puzzles. Instead, you can relax a bit in these gorgeous surroundings and concentrate efforts where the fun is at.
In Just Pine Games' History Museum Escape, also available free for iOS and Android, you're up to some 1980s teen-movie style shenanigans and find yourself locked in the museum overnight. Because you don't have Donna Noble with you, you can't just boot the door open (or does that only work in libraries... ?), so you'll need to hunt around for a key if you want to escape, and let me tell you, the person who designed this security system must have been shooting for a "Most Convoluted Award". Just click around to interact and pick up items when the cursor changes, and white text will usually display to provide you with descriptions. If you want to try combining things, or just using one object on another, click one item in your inventory, then the next you want to try to use it with. You'll want to experiment with this a lot, since you'll need to come up with more than one handmade tool before you can find your way out.
It's nice to be lighthearted, social and full of smiles now and then, but you constantly upbeat extroverts can really try the nerves sometimes. I'm just saying. There needs to be more appreciation for grumps, I say. Without us, who would you happy people have to focus all your cheer-ups on? How else would such poetic phrases as "Turn that frown upside down!" be born? So our first two free online escape games from Self Defiant and No1Game are a wee bit dark and morbid, what with being locked in an asylum or buried in a pit of sand. But, for you happy-go-lucky do gooders, take heart: a cute little duckling from Minoto should provide ample opportunity to tilt head to side and say, "Awwww, so adorabs!" Read more about our Weekday Escape trio...
Down, down, down the rabbit hole Alice went after the white rabbit, never thinking about how she'd get back out. Now the frustrations of a morning that has not been very accommodating to young ladies who chase bunnies and fall a long ways lie in a large puddle, and here we are likewise trapped in this very stately, and quite strange, hallway. So comes your next curious assignment in Alice House No.2: The Pool of Tears from the ever whimsical Funky Land—find five dodoes and unlock the door so you can escape. The dodoes appear in a variety of forms: pictures, silhouettes, and...other things, some in the open, some needing to be unlocked by a code or item. To navigate, point and click on an area you'd like to view more closely; when you can back up, a grey bar will appear at the bottom of the scene as you hover your cursor there. It is a good thing to keep in mind, especially as you'll need to back up to swing open certain cabinet doors, otherwise there is no changing cursor or directional arrows to aid your explorations.
Balls is not, as you might think, a game made by Bobby Singer, but rather Robamimi's latest escape game in which you must find four balls in order to get out. It sounds simple, but the reality is anything but. Just click around to interact when the cursor changes, and use the arrows at the edges of the screen to move around. The changing cursor, while helpful, is nothing new, but the game also includes an option to display colour names when you mouse over certain items whose colour is relevant to solving puzzles, making the game much more playable for people who have difficulty distinguishing colours in general. There's also a hint function, but don't expect it to do much more than gesture vaguely in the right direction. But hey, that's all you'll need, right?