P.I. Chronicles: Skull Island
Ah, the hot, muggy depths of the jungle. The sounds of insects, the smell of decay, the rustle of leaves as unseen creatures move nearby, as you, intrepid explorer, creep closer and closer to... some really goofy looking cannibals with an attitude problem and a professor in a cooking pot. Welcome to P.I. Chronicles: Skull Island, a wickedly fun and tangled escape designed by Masterfool.
The story begins as the aforementioned Professor Hummingway's airplane crash lands on a mysterious island. The next thing you know the hero, Frank Spectre, P.I., is awoken by the professor's daughter. All Frank has to do is find the mysterious island and rescue the professor before the natives serve him for dinner. It all sounds simple, but trust me, it is not. This simple set up disguises a flash point-and-click adventure of epic proportions.
To begin with, there's a surprising amount of territory to cover this moonlit night as you wander around the island. Talk to the natives, pick up everything you can, explore some rather surprising areas, and you may just be able to satisfy the demands of the Chief and rescue the professor. Red arrows will appear to show you which direction you can go, and although the cursor does not change to indicate hot spots, you will notice text appearing when you hover over something that can be examined or picked up. The use of objects or combining of objects from your inventory is accomplished with a strange sort of interface. Pick up an object and you will see the text "use X with" to indicate you've picked it up, then click where you would like it to go and see if you were successful. The inventory area appears to be unlimited which is handy because by the end of the game you will have a lot of things in there. Fortunately you can scroll back and forth to view your items pretty quickly, because you are definitely going to forget that you're carrying something.
You can also interact with the locals, whether they be guards, fishermen, cooks, or the chief himself. Choose the correct dialogue to advance your quest, or you could end up wandering around being very lost in this primitive jungle. Fortunately everyone ends up being helpful in the end, you just need to figure out which questions to ask.
Analysis: P.I. Chronicles: Skull Island is not your average escape game. Granted, you are trying to escape the island in one piece (and, preferably, with the professor in tow), but there's more to it than that. If you solve all of the riddles and please the chief, you may find yourself at game's end with a victory, but a rather low score regarding accomplishments. That is because one of the delights of Skull Island is that it is hiding what amounts to a whole second game within its confines. Take your time and really explore and a wide range of exciting new vistas will open up, taking the story in wild directions that have absolutely nothing to do with your original rescue mission and turning the whole game into a very surreal experience.
The artwork is dark and rather gloomy, as it is night after all. The design of the natives are goofy caricatures, and the goofy design holds true for all of the folks you will meet, be they cannibal or other. Despite the goofiness, you are in for quite a treat as there is a ton of stuff to explore, find, and use. Want to go for every achievement possible? Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time, and you might even want to make use of the nice built in save feature. Even if you ignore all the extras and just go for the main solution, this is not a ten minute puzzle by any means.
P.I. Chronicles: Skull Island is not your average Weekday Escape, but then, sometimes it's nice to change things up a bit. Despite the clunky inventory control the game is amusing, fun, challenging, and will last much longer than the average room escape. Take the chance, explore the jungle (and points beyond), and immerse yourself in one of the more complex and satisfying escape games we've seen this year.