Yes, last week was a very non-traditional room escape, wasn't it? This week, we'll go back to the basics, and it doesn't get much more basic than Mild Escape 3 by Tesshi-e. One room, four walls, a locked door, what more could an escaper ask for?
Mild Escape 3 is really basic stuff. No cutesy theme or notes, no back story, literally just you and a locked room. Poke into every corner, open every drawer and cabinet, and maybe take time for a little break to help you figure your way out. What else can you say? This is room escaping 101.
Navigation is by bars at the edges and bottom of the screen. Clicking on certain areas can also bring them into close up. There's an "about item" button in your inventory so that you can examine the objects that you pick up, and you really need to examine the objects that you pick up. There's no construction, per se, but there is a lot of use of found objects in this little gem. Unfortunately, Tesshi-e still hasn't gotten the memo about changing cursors, so be prepared for some pixel hunting.
Analysis: When I say room escaping 101, I mean it. This is the genre stripped down to the very basics, beautiful though they are. Mild Escape 3 is not on the level of, say, Loom Dawn or Vision, but there's a lot of fun to be had figuring your way out of this non-descript room. At the heart of every escape game is this: you just want to be on the other side of that door, and you need to find objects and solve puzzles to help you do just that.
As always the graphics are beautiful with textures and surfaces that you just want to stroke. The nice jazz soundtrack and the pretty pretty look make this typical Tesshi-e. However, you might notice a maturity creeping into the designer's work. Gone are many of the crutches that Tesshi-e usually uses, such as the "click the corners on the picture" puzzle. As you play each of these games you notice that the puzzles are nice and varied, and the design and controls are becoming better and better. Notice that Tesshi-e has even added a "save" feature so that you are not forced to replay the entire game just to find the obligatory happy coin alternate ending.
Yes, there are still a few flaws. The game is in Japanese, although you don't need to read Japanese to play or solve the puzzles. English phrases are creeping in to Tesshi-e's designs, although it would be nice to have one of these escapes entirely in English. The puzzles are logical and fun, but not rocket science. Most seasoned escapers should make their way through pretty quickly. And we can hope that one of these days the designer learns the use of the changing cursor to help remove the vestiges of pixel hunting.
So, not the most spectacular escape game out there, but a basic room escape done right, with logic, beauty, and a soundtrack that is easy on the ears. Dozens of these games are released each week, and it's nice to find a designer who makes the effort to produce one that is both logical and entertaining. Get ready to go back to the basics, and play Mild Escape 3!