I hate the winter. I know, I know, just last week I was rhapsodizing about white Christmases and hot chocolate and all sorts of cozy cold-weather indulgences... but seriously, there comes a time when it's just too much. For me, that moment occurred last Friday; after spending the morning watching a beautiful snowfall from my apartment, I ventured out into the day to find... gray, grimy slush. Sleet. Slippery sidewalks that threatened my life at least eighteen thousand times. After five miserable minutes of trudging through the streets, my boots soaked by a deceptively deep icy puddle, I decided that I was finished with all this silly winter stuff. I want blue skies! Warm seas! A deck upon which to lounge, preferably while sipping a ridiculously frilly drink (at least two umbrellas, please). I need a Weekday Escape at the Cottage! Good as the real thing? Not quite. It is still, however, an invigorating shot of sunny goodness in the midst of this dreary week.
Cottage is a lovely little game from 58works in Japan. It really does manage to convey the feeling of inhabiting a private island getaway; the graphics are so gorgeous and the colors so rich that I could nearly feel the balmy breeze. Paradoxically, of course, your task is to escape from this little piece of paradise. Luckily, doing so is a lot of fun. Cottage manages to successfully combine cleverness with a relatively low level of difficulty; while the puzzles may seem simple, they are still creative and inspired enough to delight even the veteran escape gamers among us. Due to the fairly straightforward progression through the game, Cottage will not take up all that much of your time. In my opinion, however, a short, beautifully-crafted experience is infinitely superior to a longer, less-polished game, and Cottage is without doubt one of the most refined and professionally created escape games that I've played in the recent past.
Cottage's interface is flawless and intuitive, and pixel-hunting is nowhere to be found (ha ha ha). I do wish that the developers had included some sort of music, as the game's near-silence does somewhat detract from its otherwise-cheerful atmosphere; besides this quibble, however, Cottage is just about perfect. Fabulous graphics, fun puzzles, and an adorably surprising ending... it warms even my cold, grumpy New Yorker's heart.
Make a mojito, shed your sweater and turn up the heat!