Escape from the Living Room 2
My, how time flies when you're having fun. It seems like only yesterday that I took over Weekday Escape and featured my first Tesshi-e room escape. Why the nostalgic turn? Partly because I'm getting old and that's what we old folks do, reminisce. And grouch about...well, everything. Mostly I'm being nostalgic because Tesshi-e has finally created a sequel to that first game we featured, way back almost two years ago. Welcome to Escape from the Living Room 2!
Some of you may remember the original Escape from the Living Room as it was a bit controversial back in the day. Some folks didn't like the fuzzy logic of constructing a toy car out of a cell phone, corks, sticks, and tape to retrieve a key from under a couch when all you had to do in real life was move the [bleeping] couch! Others hated the wall of DVDs that you had to plow through to find the few that actually pertained to the game and the puzzles. However, despite all of the complaints, as well as the more obvious design flaws of early Tesshi-e (lack of changing cursor, lack of English Translation) the game was still rather popular. Let's see how the sequel measures up, shall we?
To begin with, Escape from the Living Room 2 does not feature one of the most prominent puzzles in Tesshi-e's oeuvre, construction. There are a couple of disks to go through (Blue Rays instead of DVDs this time around, technology has moved on), but nothing near as many as the original game. And of course this time around we have Idahhh's lovely English translation to tell us exactly what is going on, although it is once again a variation on the "my friend invited me over and locked me in this room" scenario that is so prevalent in Tesshi-e's strange, surreal little world filled with friends, acquaintances, relatives, employers, and even total strangers who ambush the player into a locked room scenario (and that's not counting the times the player manages to wander into places they shouldn't be and locks themselves in). The rest is a series of logic puzzles and use of found objects and the return of another Tesshi-e constant, the wobbly picture frame. So is Escape from the Living Room 2 the better escape? Mostly yes.
The improvements in Tesshi-e's design (controls, visual, and puzzle-wise) are obvious immediately. The new interface with the easy inventory control, the great English translation (available as a separate game, remember to change the language when you start), the ability to mute the music and sounds, and the ability to save are a notch above earlier games. The puzzles flow together with a lot more logic, removing one of the criticisms of the earlier game (how were we supposed to even know we needed to make a car?). The visuals are, quite frankly, stunning. When you look back at the original you see some pretty good three dimensional design, but it's a very generic, sterile room. Escape from the Living Room 2 features a place so realistic it looks like something you'd really like to live in, or a place that someone already does inhabit.
On the downside, though, is the fact that the puzzles in Tesshi-e games are beginning to feel a bit...samey. That wobbly picture puzzle, for instance, is getting extremely old. The original Escape from the Living Room featured a really cool three-layer totem that was fun to solve but there's nothing quite so original this time around. Heck, it might have even been nice to have a bit of construction (although nothing so intricate as creating the toy car) to hark back to the first game. And I cannot say it enough, Tesshi-e needs to learn how to code a changing cursor to eliminate the pixel hunting.
Despite a few minor complaints, though, Escape from the Living Room 2 is a fun stand-alone room escape, a bit of a nostalgic nod to the past while incorporating all of the elements that make the more current Tesshi-e games much more fun and playable. Whether you are young and new to the genre or an old, old veteran like myself, Escape from the Living Room 2 is quite a fun classic room escape game, perfect for the mid-week break.