Escape, the third chapter in the Trapped series by Godlimations, inspires in me a confusing mixture of feelings. There's much to admire about the game—excellently animated cutscenes, a number of clever puzzles, an interesting story—but it also at times comes off as amateurish and cheesy. An obvious labor of love, Escape manages to be one of the most epic and expansive room escape games I've played while still providing more than a few wince-worthy moments. Kooky!
In Escape, you play as Dialla Reineheart, a spunky red-headed lady detective tasked with bringing down a sinister crime syndicate. Your partner, Mickey, has been tragically slain by the leader of the gang, the ruthless Dan McNeely; now, you must escape from his clutches. This won't be easy. Even after absconding from your jail cell, there's the matter of finding the evidence needed to bring down the syndicate once and for all...not to mention getting past Merik, Dan's violently brutish second-in-command. And, of course, there is the inevitable final showdown with McNeely himself. What sort of demons will Dialla have to confront when she comes face-to-face with her own past?
Escape is a significant achievement. It's one of the longest escape games I've ever played, spanning four rooms and half a dozen very nicely-animated cutscenes; it also contains a smooth, well-integrated combat section, which is not easy to pull of in the middle of a point-and-click adventure. I was struck most by the completeness of the package that Escape presents: multiple rooms to escape from, a fleshed-out backstory, animated cutscenes, voice acting... Godlimations really went over and beyond to create a game that transcends the room escape genre to become something more substantial and complex.
However, as much as I admired and enjoyed Escape's various cutscenes and story elements, at times I just could not get past the cheesiness. The characters are almost ridiculously two-dimensional (the spirited heroine, evil henchman, heartless criminal mastermind, etc), and approximately one-third of the dialogue consists of evil cackles and plaintive wails. The voice acting is mixed; while some was quite good (I especially enjoyed the campy maliciousness of the actor voicing McNeely), Dialla's voice practically made me grind my teeth. Finally, strangely enough, only certain cutscenes are skippable; considering the length of some of these sections and the fact that there is no save feature, it would have been nice to always have the option to move directly to the next interactive portion of the game. These may seem like petty criticisms, and certainly they don't relate directly to the gameplay; still, these components are a significant enough part of the overall experience to warrant examination and appraisal.
While I found that overall the game's puzzles were rational enough, there were moments that required leaps of questionable logic. The final room in particular contained one puzzle that completely baffled me; it was only after 10 minutes of random clicking around that I accidentally stumbled across the solution. That being said, the game's interface is clean and largely intuitive, and pixel-hunting is nil (woot!).
Even with these criticisms, I don't want to diminish how impressed I was with many aspects of the game. Godlimations is a very talented group, and the effort they put into Escape definitely shows; the game's aesthetic, most of the gameplay and the overall immersion of the experience are really excellent. I think that if the team had scaled down the size of the game just a bit (one less room, perhaps?) and focused their attention upon perfecting the rest, Escape could have been really marvelous. The potential is there... with time and experience Godlimations may very well create some masterpieces.
While you might enjoy playing the Trapped series' first and second parts, it's not necessary to do so in order to understand Escape. Also, while I certainly wouldn't call the game for mature audiences only, there is a fair amount of cartoony violence, so you may want to keep the little ones away.
It's time to end this once and for all: