The 12 Best Escape Games You Might Not Have Played
When it comes to escape games, there are a lot of names most people think of right away. Robamimi, Neutral, and Tesshi-e to name just a few. For good reason! But there are a lot of great escape games out there that aren't as widely known, or at least ones that you might miss if you're sticking to the celebrities when you're getting your "stuck in a room oh noes" fix. They're weird. Creative. Surprising. Thoughtful. Scary. And they're all right here in our archives. Here are 12 of the best escape games you might have missed the first time around! Allons-y!
- Samsara Room - Studio Maarten's bizarre and captivating game makes surreal stylish, incredibly clever, and juuuuuust a bit unsettling. You'll have to literally change your perspective to find a way out in some unexpected ways. The puzzles are the sort of thing you might ordinarily call illogical, but within the game's own rules and universe, which you learn as you play, they quickly become intuitive. It makes for a wonderfully weird experience that feels like one of those dreams you're never sure is full of meaning and life secrets... or just means you're crazy.
- Baba Yaga - Pastel Games' name is practically already an assurance of quality, so their appearance on this list might not have been much of a surprise, but if you haven't played this particular title, you're in for a treat. As the name implies, there's witchery afoot when you find yourself trapped inside a house (no chicken legs?) when you catch sight of a witch flying around. What sets Baba Yaga apart is how incredibly professional its presentation is, with a myriad of tiny details to find and click on, and its smart puzzles. It's one of those games that just keeps opening up as you explore, and despite its somewhat spooky opening, has such a gorgeous, inviting style that it's perfect for just about anyone.
- The Dark Room (YouTube) - No, your eyes don't deceive you... that's a YouTube video. Created by comedian John Robertson, this snarky, funny game is played by choosing the options that act as links to lead you from video to video when you, well, find yourself in a dark room. It's an advertisement of sorts, since it was created to promote Robertson's work, but more importantly it's just a remarkably unique and smart way to create an "escape the room" type scenario. Don't expect this one to make a lot of sense (or be kid friendly) but if you're looking for a laugh and want something new, this should be up there on your list.
- You Find Yourself in a Room - Whenever Eli Piilonen is involved you know you're about to be getting something that turns a genre around in unexpected ways, and that's exactly what you get in this interactive fiction title that's at once both funny and thought provoking. The concept is simple... you're locked in a room, and you type the commands you want to execute. There's just one problem... the game is slowly realizing that it hates you and everything about you. The more you play, the more the game goes from passive aggressive to outright aggressive, and what starts out as a typical escape game winds up anything but when the game itself realizes just how inferior you are. It's funny and unexpected, and you'll go through several rooms before the game decides to, finally, set you free.
- Dwarf Complete - You probably already know eyezmaze. If you don't... what's wrong with you? Go get acquainted, then come back here, because the rest of us will be talking about this adorable dungeon crawling adventure where you play as a pink haired dwarf trying to find a way out... and lots and lots of treasure. Unlike a traditional room escape game, you'll control our heroine manually as she moves around the map solving puzzles and picking up loot. It starts off simply enough, but winds up exceptionally tricky the farther you go as the rooms you explore get more complex. It's a great example of a non-traditional escape providing a ton of variety and challenge.
- Escaping the Prison - PuffballsUnited is the maestro behind this very silly and very funny choose-your-own-adventure style escape game about, well, busting out of the slammer. Each scene is animated and voice acted, and proceeds differently depending on what options or items you choose. Not every option leads to escape, however, and it's possible to fail in some pretty hilariously fatal ways as you try to find one of the three different endings. While not the sort of hands on escape action you might typically expect, it's so well executed and gleefully silly that it's impossible not to grin while you click your way through the choices, and hopefully eventually find a way out.
- Alice is Dead: Episode One - There's good reason why people love Mike Morin and Hyptosis' superbly unsettling spin on the fairytale classic. It begins with you waking up in a locked room with a locked trunk, and ends with... well, that'd spoil the surprise. This isn't your grandma's Wonderland as the discordant and creepy soundtrack and wonderfully illustrated yet offputting artwork should clue you in on, and it's just the first step in a morbid but engrossing mystery trilogy series that will keep you hooked 'til the very end.
- Mimou Escape - Short but definitely sweet, Sylviepouetpouet's beautifully animated little escape game stars a little black cat who would really rather be anywhere but his carrier. This one plays out a bit more like a traditional example of the genre as you try to figure out a way out of the cat's cage, which seems to have a weird amount of clues and mechanisms, but where it shines is its fantastic personality. The animations for each task are hilarious and adorable, and even though the whole thing will probably only take you a few minutes, by the end you, like us, will hope we wind up getting one big adventure for our feline friend somewhere down the road.
- Bars of Black and White - Gregory Weir never does anything the way you expect someone to, so this escape game is anything but simple and straightforward. As the game begins, you're sitting in your apartment reflecting on how you don't do or enjoy anything anymore, but the strange thing is you're locked in and can't remember how that happened, until you get a very special package that reveals a whole lot about the world around you. As well as providing some interesting and inventive puzzles, the game is about making you think about what you're doing with your life (or maybe not doing) and despite its air of menace, ends on an uplifting note all of us can appreciate.
- The Dark Room 3 - Ready for something really, really trippy and really, really different? Then let Johnathan May be your guide through this psychedelic and challenging escape that doesn't offer much in the way of help or instruction. You're given your objective (escape!) and then it's up to you to figure out not only how to make that happen, but how to play, since the strange place you're trapped in is anything but traditional. Each puzzle you'll encounter is abstract and requires a different solution, but you'll need to explore and experiment on your own to figure out what sorts of things interact with others, and it's anything but easy. The navigation might be a bit too unorthodox for some, but the surreal, techno-esque presentation will suck others in as they explore and manipulate their surroundings.
- Escape from 26 - Not only do they make gorgeous games, Bigloop knows how to captivate from the beginning. In this fascinating premise, you find yourself trapped in a massive birdcage... it has everything you could ever want in it, but you're still a prisoner. Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse when you realize that nobody has come by to take care of the cages in a long, long time. It's a superbly freaky premise, and though it's short, it winds up captivating you for the duration as you try to find a way out before you wind up live the gravestones behind your caged house. Hopefully a sequel is forthcoming, since it raises many more questions than it answers!
- Goliath the Soothsayer - Ending things on a decidedly terrifying note is Ben Leffler's eerie horror game about waking up in an attic with barricaded doors, and a barrier of salt. Turns out your brother bought an Ouija board at an antiques shop, and unbeknownst to him, something followed him home with it. Now you're trapped, and you'll have to find a way to set things right before you can escape. With incredibly tense atmosphere and some masterfully executed jump scares, this is the perfect choice to play somewhere in the dark. On the downside, it doesn't offer much help if you're stuck, leaving you to resort to trying and clicking everything, but what it does offer is one of the best frightening escape game experiences you could ever hope to have.