"A door firmly locked. But do you have what it takes to escape? 40x times." Such is the introduction to 40x Escape, Bart Bonte's point-and-click puzzle entry to the escape-themed Casual Gameplay Design Competition #10. The aforementioned quote unfortunately doesn't parse as a haiku (cue syllable finger-counting), and "40x times" is probably as redundant a phrase as "ATM Machine", but it gives you everything you need to know: there is a door in front of you. You'll need to get through ones like it forty times, if you hope to escape. Also, there's a bird with you. He won't be much help though. Because, y'know... he's a bird, and he apparently didn't learn his lesson the last time you helped him escape.
In each of the forty screens of 40x Escape, you must determine the proper sequence of mouse actions that will cause the door to open. Oftentimes, it is directly related to getting the ESCAPE sign above the door to light up all its green letters. Sometimes it will require direct clicking of those letters, other times there will be buttons for you to fiddle with, other times there will be a combination or password to input, and still other times you'll need to get creative with mouse movement. Get though all forty, and you can spend the rest of the afternoon contemplating what exactly the architecture of the building you just escaped was. (Seriously, is it like a long hallway of forty rooms, one after another, or rather, are the rooms nested in each other, like some kind of matryoshka doll? But I digress.)
Analysis: We've seen games like 40x Escape before. Structurally, it bears construction similar to the ClickPlay and This Is The Only Level series. In terms of mechanics, it owes a bit to God Tower-style online riddle games. And, of course, DOOORS and 100 Floors have seen great success on the iOS platform. But really, one of the main reasons we enjoy Bart Bonte's work here at JayIsGames is that, whatever game genre he puts his mind to, his trademark style makes it all his own.
Polished is the word that immediately comes to mind while playing 40x Escape. The "escape" concept is boiled down to its barest essences in a presentation that is clean, engaging, and accessible. It's a back-to-basics approach that strips away the sometimes complex and unintuitive puzzles that may scare casual players off from the escape games. There is room in the great world of casual-playdom for high-quality introductory games, and just as other works by Bonte have found great popularity in kid-oriented game portals, so too one suspects 40x Escape will as well. It's just the thing to get grade-schoolers acclimated to the escape game concept, so they will be prepared when they inevitably become full-on addicted to Submachinery and Darkened Rooms (and we at JayIsGames are always in favor of getting 'em hooked while they're still young. Mwah ha ha.)
Of course, the danger with a back-to-basics approach is that it can come off as, well, basic. While, of course, what kinds of puzzles each person will find difficult is subjective in the extreme, 40x Escape probably won't pose much of a challenge to experienced escapees. There is something exhilarating about gunning through variations on a simple theme, but 40x Escape could stand a little more variety in how it tries to stump the player. Perhaps making into 30x Escape would have tightened up things a little, but who can say? 40x Escape is what it is: a quality time-waster from a quality designer, and a CGDC #10 crowd-pleaser.
Author's Theme interpretation:
"Escape, you know... 40 times :)" -Bart Bonte
Pastel Games' feedback:
"Nice idea and well executed. I love the bird."
"You need to disable right click menu and the TAB key."
"The game gets a bit repetitive after a while. Maybe you could change the colors of the rooms, so we get a slight impression that we're moving forward with each door."
"The pause button doesn't pause the game, but returns it to the main menu. The hell. I know you can hit "continue", but still, it's not good idea to taunt the player like that. Besides - this game doesn't need pause. If you go away from the screen - nothing happens. Pausing is pointless."
"I'd prefer less levels, let's say 10 or 20 but more diversified. Different backgrounds, different objects and you could also use the bird a bit more." -Mateusz Skutnik.
"I like it even so it's nothing original. Puzzles are not too easy or too difficult, love Mr Bird. Simple, cute, fun!" -Karol Konwerski.