Sometimes it's hard to know what makes a good escape game a good escape game. Always it's more satisfying when you can say with some certainty your freedom was well earned—that, armed with nothing but your wits and a few spare devices, you faced down your mental opponent and came out on top. But the rules should be fair, having sound reasoning and unbreakable logic behind their machinations. How well do the following three escapes stick to these rules? Each has its unique flair and style, but do they succeed?
Chocolate Mint Room - You probably recognize the sweet pastel aesthetics and upbeat chime as belonging to Yuri, who is better known around these parts for the Chick Hide and Seek series. While this particular escape is sans the adorable little peeps, the puzzle formulations and mechanics remain familiar. The most distinguishing aspect is the unique angle at which we face the room. Although the puzzles are easy enough once you've put together all the clues, finding those clues relies on a fair share of inference. After all is said and done, it feels as if its potential wasn't fully met. Maybe it's too easy, perhaps? As far as clever ways to open a door, though, this is one of the sweetest.
Escape from the Triangle Maze - There's no mistaking a Hottategoya design when in a room full of escape games. The surreal emptiness takes minimalism a step beyond ordinary. That's both an asset and a disadvantage as there are fewer means to hide clues and present puzzles. This particular escape will win no fans from the maze-hater crowd. But if I was an evil maniac bent on watching my victims attempt to escape their confines, I'd do as Hottategoya does: make full use of architectural design in my puzzle schemes. Because of the layout, some rules of navigation seem arbitrary but necessary. Was this an amusingly inventive trick? Or simply pure annoyance?
Escape from the Cat Room - Cyan Mage's stylishly retro interface is convincing enough to spark a longing, the kind that leaves you digging through closets for your old GameBoy. While the nostalgia is immensely fun, and the cats are just too charming to not elicit smiles, the design's downsides can be irksome. Of the few puzzles, most are straight-forward and the greatest challenge comes from figuring out where to click or what object to employ. Then again, those weird items and rather strange puzzles are so typical of the tiny 8-bit graphics of old, it may warm your love of that golden era of gaming history. What is it, exactly, that makes retro so appealing?
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