Those who have never played escape games might imagine being locked in some room, unable to exit before piecing together a series of cryptic clues as the makings of a frantic horror movie. Yet here comes 58 Works with the ultimate in relaxing accommodations: On-Sen, the halcyon hot spring waters in which to recompose and let worries wash away. In Japan, the onsen are often exclusive, most with restrictions and requisites for entry, a place many would look forward to visiting and might never want to leave. Nevertheless, to escape-the-room is the objective and so onward through the onsen we go.
Follow the on-screen arrows to explore your surroundings, looking for "Doubtful spots" to click on and investigate further. Along with some clues to help you along, a cursor that changes from an arrow to a hand will signal when an item or area should be explored in more depth. This makes exploration intuitive and effortless. Inventory items are within easy reach, needing only a simple click to examine, use or combine. Like some real onsen, this game is quiet and without music, although an occasional chime sounds when a key item is found.
Analysis: 58 works is well known here at Casual Gameplay for its masterful escapes replete with logical puzzles and lush environments; remember Cottage and Kalaquli? Like its peers, every scene in On-Sen is picturesque, beguiling, and very peaceful, so it makes sense that the puzzles would be equally accessible, not too strenuous or taxing. Also following suit, On-Sen has a number of rooms to explore and discovering each adds more joy to the gaming experience. While finally unlocking a door only to enter a new puzzle situation could be considered torture in the wrong scenario, here it becomes a happy mini-reward for sleuthing done well.
On-Sen's puzzles are few and uncomplicated but they do fit seamlessly into the atmosphere of the game and that quality is one of On-Sen's great strengths. Its weaknesses include an ordinarily preferred feature: the changing cursor. If not for that visual clue, almost like a spoiler, exploration would require more attention to detail and thus necessitating a more meditative approach to gameplay. Have you ever grumbled while pixel-hunting through a Mild Escape by Tesshi-e? Well, here's an instance when that non-compliant cursor would be a blessing.
If you're good with puzzles or are a regular room-escape player, your departure from this onsen might seem abrupt and very disappointing. Being used to longer or more challenging 58 Works titles, just as you might expect a new area to escape, "Congratulations" is dancing across the screen. While it may seem too abbreviated, the visit to On-Sen is still very gratifying; the only reason to complain the game is short or easy is because it provides the kind of enjoyment you want to savor. Yet given the choice between nothing or only a little, most of us will be happy with a little. Overall, On-Sen is a pleasure to experience, even if it is only a quick dip rather than a long soak.
Thanks to Cyberjar88 and Nicop for sending this one in!