Escape From the Living Room
What is it with the Japanese? Every time I turn around they've locked me in a room. At least this one is furnished with a nice comfy couch. Oh look! A widescreen TV and a selection of DVDs. Great! Now, where's the remote...?
Escape From the Living Room, a new game by Japanese designer Tesshi-e, is a solid, entertaining room escape game. Simply point and click your way through an uncluttered yet beautifully rendered living room, packed with challenges.
There is no back story here, no note from a mad doctor, no urgent ticking clock. Just you and a comfortable living room. Bars at the edges of the screen make finding your way around quick and easy. A few important objects are rather small, but even my tired old eyes could spot them. While navigating through the room is itself relatively simple, solving some of the puzzles, especially the end solution, will take a bit of ingenuity. This is basic escape-the-room stuff; but what a lot of stuff! What in the world is that three-headed rotating totem for? That's for Tesshi-e to know and you to find out.
You'll spend most of your time in Escape From the Living Room collecting and using objects as you work towards the final solution. Not to say that there aren't any puzzles. There are indeed some tricky brain-teasers, but the answers to the more practical "How do I use that?" questions are what keep the game fun.
The puzzles themselves are logical and flow easily from one to another. The photorealistic backgrounds make you want to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Despite minimal decoration, the lush textures beg to be touched. The music... well, thankfully Tesshi-e has included a mute button.
My only quibble is the sometimes frustrating way the game handles your inventory. The problems begin after you select an acquired object, then hit the "about item" button for a close-up. Some items need to be opened, turned, and manipulated, and finding the "sweet spot" that will allow you to do this can be tricky, with no visual cues.
Qibbles aside, Escape From the Living Room makes for a fun, quick escape. Or you could just kick back on that inviting couch, relax, and watch some DVDs...