Dear loyal JIG readers, welcome to a very special edition of Weekday Escape today, with exclusive first coverage of a breaking story: Escape games, a multinational gaming obsession that has taken a worldwide audience captive and captured the attention of major corporations, legislators and research firms. As it was JIG that reported on escape games' humble beginnings, and it was here that certain celebrities would get their escape game fix, it is only fitting that we should report on new emerging data regarding the health benefits of playing these popular diversions. While this early on sources cannot be revealed or confirmed, when it's news this good, we don't want to lose precious moments not playing escape games through such time-consuming formalities as "fact checking" do we? Already the clock is ticking while we prattle on about details. All you really need to know is: This is a BIG DEAL. Already Google is inventing a new way to use self-driving cars in globalized escape games (an early prototype shows there's still much progress to be made). Rumors have surfaced on the streets of The Capitol, according to a witness who would only identify himself as "Bub", that lawmakers are now considering what, if any, limits should be put on escape game production. Our best advice: Stock up now...
R-LO is a very fuzzy escape game from no1game, and as usual, you're trapped somewhere and surrounded by cryptic clues and puzzling mechanisms. The cursor won't change if you can interact with something, so you need to go about it the old fashioned way and click everywhere to make sure you find everything you need, though pixel hunting is mostly non-existent. Instead, you'll be required to solve puzzles that need logic more than anything else, and know how to spot a clue when you see it. R-LO may be short, but it's also smart, with some appealingly sneaky puzzles and tidy (though, really, so fuzzy) design, making it an excellent warmup for escape fans of all kinds.
If you've ever wondered where the three adorable cats who star in Choko-Chai's escape games come from, play the insanely cute The Three Bamboo Princesses and wonder no more, as it explains these beautiful kitty girls are in fact magical bamboo princesses, whose foster parents lock them up out of love to try to avoid losing their beloved cats. To help them escape, just click around to interact, keeping an eye out for certain twinkles and watching when your cursor changes if it passes over something you can click on. If you're really stuck, you might need to use one of the cats to help you... press the kitty icon in the lower-left corner while looking at what you're trying to interact with, and if she says "leave it to us", you can usually click a navigation arrow to back out of the current viewpoint to see the cats sitting in a row. Just click all three of them until you find the one who tells you she can help, then click on whatever you were trying to interact with before. It's a little clunky, to say the least, but it's also super cute, as we may have mentioned. The Three Bamboo Princesses may be a little rough around the edges, but Choko-Chai's puzzles and sweet stories are always a welcome delight, and there are a few clever conundrums to conquer here as well. With two endings to find, The Three Bamboo Princesses will cure what ails you, provided what ails you is a serious deficiency in royal fairytale cats solving puzzles through teamwork.
You're a professional room escaper who just received a new challenge by mail. A helicopter air-lifts you to a remote island where the room is waiting, but getting in may prove to be as difficult as getting out! Such is the setup for Gatamari Escape 24 (by Gatamari, who else?). Navigate around the game world with the mouse, keep your brain in gear, and cross your fingers, because it's going to take luck and/or use of the game's save feature to get the best of the game's four endings.
There's a tornado heading your way in Pine Studios' Catastrophe Escape, but your car has broken down in the middle of nowhere next to a deserted gas station, and if you want to escape the incoming storm, you'll need to scavenge for repair supplies and everything you need for the road. To play, just click to interact... the cursor will change when you mouse over something interactive, and display the name of whatever you're touching at the top of the screen. Items in your inventory can also be combined by clicking on first one object, and then the other. Most of the puzzles you'll encounter revolve around simply figuring out which item to use where, which does take a little creative thinking, and at least one of the item uses could stand a little subtle prompting to clue you in to what the game wants you to do, as opposed to what you might, y'know, rationally do. The ending is a little anticlimactic, and once you figure out what the game wants you to do the whole thing won't take longer than a few minutes, but a great sense of style and atmosphere make this a bite-sized escape worth checking out... though you might want to deal with any oncoming tornadoes first.To Be or Not To Be (Android)
Here we are again: Gathered together by this intangible connection through the interwebs and, although not something we can put a finger on, it's no less real nor is it insubstantial. I think (and forgive me if I'm being too forward but) we have something special between us—you, me, everyone. It's not just like. We don't simply like these escape games. This is a considerably more poetic, personally resonating and meaningful thing. We're not on the fringe of society, either. Escape games got the Hollywood spotlight, albeit with a bit of parody, in a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory. But to explain too much explains away part of the coolness of it, eh? Still, I don't want to march in here without preamble and just toss out a few games and say: "Uh, here. Give them a try." That'd be far too...what. Dismissive. Abrupt. Unappreciative of our unique bond. Right? Right. So, now we're all in symbiotic accord on the matter, let's skip formalities and get on to it: Everybody, here is this week's Weekday Escape...
There's just something about a TomaTea escape game that calls to mind lazing around and being perfectly content with everything around you, and Spring Hotel is no different with its warm colour palette and mellow guitar soundtrack. The hotel room you find yourself trapped in is small but in a comfortably cozy way, albeit with puzzles and coded locks on every conceivable surface, which I hope was disclosed in the amenities list. The tip of your cursor will glow when it passes over something you can interact with, and as usual for TomaTea, if you're faced with a puzzle that has a clue to its solution you haven't seen, you'll be informed that you have no idea how to solve it. Don't forget to examine your items by clicking the tiny "i" icon that appears when you mouse over them! Doing so may let you manipulate them in a way that reveals more secrets.
If you like your escape games short and sweet, Vitamin Hana's Hana's Room 1 definitely fits the bill, but while it doesn't present a head scratcher, it does present smart, intuitive puzzles wrapped up in a cute and cheery style. The cursor won't change when you pass over something you can interact with, but largely there's no pixel hunting to be had. To examine an item up close, first click it in your inventory to pick it up, then click the "About Item" button while holding it. For the most part, Hana's Room 1 is all about locks and codes, and all of it is logical, if not particularly difficult. Though it's very much a ten minute escape at most, it's an excellent warm-up for any fan, and its colourful style makes it something we hope is just the tip of the iceberg from its creator in the future.
Play Hana's Room 1
no1game's Find the Escape-Men Part 143: First Pitch is arguably more of a straight-up point-and-click puzzle game than it is an escape game, taking place at a ball game where the pitcher, one of the series' iconic Escape-Men, disappears, prompting you to go look for him. As usual, you'll also need to find ten of the little green men, too! Click everything and everywhere to explore and hunt for items... some objects may be hidden in places that don't give any indication you should click on them. Also remember that you can combine items (or use one on another) by examining the first one with the question mark below its icon, then clicking the item you want to use once to highlight it, and then again on the object you're checking out up close. Most of the puzzles here are fairly logical, with the biggest difficulty being finding all those unindicated interactive zones or area transitions no1game seems so fond of. Still, there are a few genuinely sneaky and clever ways of implementing codes, and the game's sense of humour makes Find the Escape-Men Part 143: First Pitch a welcome little diversion no matter what your favourite sport it.
What ho, noble readers, it's time for another installment of your favourite grab-bag of random escape games and mine, Weekday Escape! I was, uh. Kind of tapped to write this thing at the last moment, so I'm not really sure what to say. Getting my head in a proper "escape game" mindset takes work, you know? But it's cool. I've got on my Scorpius shirt and leopard print workout pants, and I've shut and locked all the doors to my office and replaced all the obvious things I'd use to get out with a bunch of torn-up notes, cheerful coins and be-hatted birdies, and a random assortment of items I could theoretically use as tools. Ready? Let's do this.
MayMay is back with another tasty escape game in Find 10 Cookies, where you have to do exactly what the title says if you ever want to get out. The cookies are everywhere, some sitting out in plain sight while others will require you to crack some pretty clever codes. Hey, cookies are serious business! There's no changing cursor, but most of what you can interact with is obvious, apart from one or two things that have more than one "hot spot" that makes them behave in different ways, or inventory items that need to be placed on juuuuuust the right portion of the screen to work. Despite this, Find 10 Cookies is still far more sweet than sour, and MayMay's ability to cook up smart, satisfying little escapes makes them one developer whose rapidly turning into a favourite treat.
I've never gotten trapped in a bathroom before, but I guess that's because the ones I frequent are apparently low on the "complicated puzzle locks and little green men tucked into every nook and cranny front", unlike the commode in no1game's Find the Escape-Men Part 142: A Typical Bathroom. You're locked in, as you'd expect, and to get out you will, as usual, need to find the ten green Escape-Men hidden around the room. Also as usual, there is no changing cursor, so you'll need to really be diligent about searching everywhere (sometimes even after you've changed the environment) in order to succeed. This isn't as complex or lengthy as some of the entries in no1game's long and popular series have been, but it's just clever and tricky enough to make for the perfect break-sized game.
I almost forgot it was Wednesday! I got a little too caught up in something new I've been trying: "being in the moment." Apparently, people who study these kinds of things have come up with the idea that all this modern lifestyle—internet, phones, social media, and the like—have abbreviated our attention spans and evolved our brains to constantly need new stimuli. That could be why stories like Cheryl Strayed's Wild are so compelling; staking out a "peace" of the wild, escaping the trappings of modern life, is not an uncommon dream although fewer do it than dream it. Still, who wouldn't feel a little anxious leaving home without a phone in hand? How comfortable would you be without internet for a month? Sure it's important to be aware of surroundings and appreciate a slower pace. Yet, as I'm always saying around here: Escape games? They're the good way. Folks who escape-the-room on a regular basis, you're used to looking closely at your surroundings, noticing small details and perhaps even a few clues. You already have immense appreciation for a more relaxed, touristy pace through life just as you usually prefer relaxing, mediative games. So it's okay to get lost in thought as you play these next three escapes from Tototo Room, FunkyLand and No1Game. There's no hurry, no time limits, and no finish line: Just an open door into the world...
Hi! How are you doing? Excited, stressed, relaxed or just a little bored? Well, okay, there's a few things we can do about that: You could waste a bit of time reading the scientific explanation for what boredom is (perhaps thereby enhancing that feeling). Or, stick around here as we indulge our urge to entertain our brain. Yes, again, it is that portion of the week when worries are washed away, troubles are turned around, and boredom is busted. Ehem. Might this even be claimed, in its most meta essentialness, your way to escape the everyday. (Heh. It's a line that never gets old!) Lucky for us, escape games are far from being in short supply lately. Which surely means the need to get away—via the metaphoric breaking loose from one's confines—is also in constant supply (which I'm quite glad about and not just for things like job security). This week, Esklavos, FunkyLand and Yuri bask in the WE spotlight...
If there was ever an escape game creator whose name inspired the exact opposite feels as it described, Neutral has got to be them, and Morning Room is here to pick you up... though despite never running around or deserting you, you might miss it if you blink. To play, just click to interact, though the cursor won't change to tell you when you can do so, and frustratingly some objects you need to interact with won't actually give any visual or aural feedback that doing so is correct. This is very much a mini escape, with just one screen to contend with (not counting various viewing angles), and some of the puzzles aren't quite as intuitive or inventive as you might be hoping. Still, Neutral's tidy design and the deceptively simple presentation hides one puzzle you'll need to wake up your brain for, so get cracking, and whet your appetite for a bigger game down the road!