Cube Escape: Birthday
In Rusty Lake's creepy point-and-click adventure Cube Escape: Birthday, also free for iOS and Android, the year is 1939, and it's your ninth birthday... at least, you think it is. Everybody at your party seems to be having a good time, but an ominous letter hints that not all is well. Click around to interact with things and move around the room, and click an item in your inventory to hide it for use. Some objects can be dragged around with the mouse, but the cursor won't change to tell you what you can interact with, so be sure to check everywhere and try everything. When you're carrying a lot of items, you can click the little white arrow that appears in the bottom right corner to expand and collapse your inventory. Don't expect a whole lot of help... like most of Rusty Lake's games, Cube Escape: Birthday is more than a little surreal, and you'll have to think outside the realm of everyday logic in order to proceed.
By now, if you've played the rest of Rusty Lake's Cube Escape games, you know what to expect, which is to say something at once dreamy, weird, and unsettling if not outright nightmarish at times. Playing the game does feel like being trapped in one of those strange dreams where everything is just slightly off, and things get more twisted the farther you go, though you're the only one who seems to notice anything is wrong. Cube Escape: Birthday does a great job of making you feel off the whole time you're playing, though that otherworldly logic still occasionally gets in the way of the gameplay. A few of the items have uses that aren't even hinted at so that you wind up falling back on an "everything and the kitchen sink" approach to clicking around the area with everything in your inventory, so some puzzles could definitely have used some better nudges and hints. It has a lot of clever puzzles that become frustrating by being a little too obscure or fiddly in their mechanics. It's a shame, because when Cube Escape: Birthday gets roaring along, it's creepy, startling, and imaginative in all the right ways. Expect it to add more questions than it answers, but if you like your games dark, mysterious, and more than a little odd, Cube Escape: Birthday is as unmissable as all the rest, even if you'll need to spend some time trying to figure out what it all means.