Strawberry Cafe Escape
Some room escape games are a nail-biting roller-coaster ride of nerves and terror. Some are quiet exercises in mounting paranoia. Occasionally, however, you run across an escape game that is calm, quiet, almost Zen-like, with an ending that is even more relaxing. Strawberry Cafe Escape by Strawberry Cafe is one of the latter, a light, frothy, relaxed escape from the mid-week blues.
Cafe escapes always seem to be a bit of a contradiction. After all, escaping from locked rooms, underground spaces, creepy hospitals, unknown space stations, etc. is probably a good idea, but who wants to escape from a cafe when you can sit down and enjoy a nice beverage? Regardless, you will eventually need to leave the Strawberry Cafe. What makes the game so fun is the reward at the end, when you do indeed get to enjoy that tasty drink. What beverage you end up with depends entirely on the method you use to escape.
You begin in the eponymous cafe, cutely done up in shades of pink and red to match the title theme. Enjoy the lusciously rendered 3D scenery as you cruise towards completion. Navigation throughout the small space is accomplished by matching red arrows at the edge of the screens. Inventory control (for the few things you will find) is simple and intuitive. There's very little pixel hunting involved, adding to the relaxed atmosphere of the game. Strawberry Cafe has not added a save button, but none is really needed as this is not a difficult escape by any means. A mute button is unnecessary as there's no background music, although there are sound effects when items are picked up/manipulated.
Analysis: Not the toughest game out there, Strawberry Cafe Escape is still a nice refresher for those who enjoy the challenge of a room escape. It's not all strawberries and cream, of course. The game would have benefited from some sort of musical accompaniment; perhaps a nice piano piece or some light jazz. The challenge of escaping could have been beefed up a little more as well. Although the game itself is the English version, the translation from the Japanese is a little rough in places.
Why play then? Sometimes it's nice to kick back, relax, and enjoy the scenery (and the truly casual gameplay). The puzzles themselves are tricky without being difficult, adding to the relaxation factor. While there is only one way out, there are three different endings based on your methodology. Having trouble getting over the mid-week hump? Then sit down, relax, pour a drink, and spend a little time escaping the cafe.
Update: The English version appears to have been taken down or is currently unavailable. The review links have been changed to point to the Japanese version. If the English version turns up again, please let us know and I'll switch the links back again.