Yes, we've been on a bit of a whimsy kick lately. This week's room escape, however, is not so much whimsical as... well, surreal. Welcome to Alloy, by Japanese designer HILG (U-Sensor, G-Sensor), a room where you're escaping... safety?
Okay, the basic premise of Alloy is this; you are in the witness protection program, and you can't leave the house without a GPS tracker and guards. But what do you do when you just want a breath of fresh air and a moment alone? Well, you try to get the room unlocked for one. But that's the easy part, because to really escape you need to distract the robot guard. What? Didn't you know the US Marshall Service was now delegating witness protection to flying robots? Where have you been?
Navigate around your tiny apartment using arrows at the edges of the screen. You can also click on items or areas for a close up, and use handy down arrows to move back. Pick up everything that isn't nailed down, because you're going to need a lot of stuff to get out of this place. Yes, that does mean construction. There's no changing cursor, so there will be some pixel hunting, but this is not a very cluttered space, so most objects and clickable areas should be readily apparent.
Next to each item in your inventory is a little button that allows you to bring the object into a close up view. Once in close up objects can be manipulated by clicking on them, which you will need to do a lot. After you get past the intro, which is in both English and Japanese, you will see three handy buttons at the left of your screen. The first button (yellow) allows you to pull up the system menu so that you can turn on the English version, as well as the hint feature. The middle button affects the music and sound effects, and the third button is a nice save feature, in case you want to leave and come back later.
Analysis: Alloy is a nice mid-week diversion. Not so easy that you're done in five minutes, not so difficult that you should concuss yourself by head banging on the nearest flat surface. Part of what makes it so fun is the silly premise. It seems like the protagonist of this escape is being treated more like someone under house arrest than a protected witness, doesn't it? And what's with the flying robots? All part of the fun.
The room is nicely done up in realistic (if somewhat tacky, decoration-wise) 3D. There's a nice little tune playing in the background that can be easily turned off if it becomes annoying. After spending a few minutes in the somewhat claustrophobic space, you can understand why the guy wants to get out.
The lack of a changing cursor, though, does indeed mean some pixel hunting, which can be annoying. And there are some color based puzzles included that make life difficult for those with color-blindness. Frankly, the method of changing to the English version is very non-intuitive as well, unless you've played one of HILG's games before.
Despite the minor flaws, however, Alloy is an enjoyable escape. The puzzles flow together logically, and the construction bit is just terribly amusing. Take some time, and enjoy the logic of the game and the illogic of the premise. So help the poor guy escape! Just, you know, watch out for the flying robot guards.