The Happy Escape 8
When it comes to escape game creators, few developers are likely doodled in notebooks of their players with little hearts around them as often as Tesshi-e probably is, and so The Happy Escape 8 definitely lives up to its name. As the game opens (after you set the language to English if you can't read Japanese!), you're just about to close up your coffee shop at the end of a tiring day when Santa Claus magics you away. Christmas is finally over, and he wants nothing more than to relax with a cup of your famous coffee, which must get some seriously awesome Yelp reviews to kidnapping you to the North Pole. Santa, we seriously need to have a talk about boundaries, though considering all that "he knows when you're sleeping" stuff, that's probably a lost cause. There's no changing cursor, so just click everywhere to navigate and hunt for things to interact with. Items you're carrying can be viewed up close if you click them and then choose "about item", which can sometimes reveal hidden functions when you click on them again. If you want to get out, you'll need to brew Santa a cuppa, and don't forget about those Happy Coins either!
There's just something about a Tesshi-e escape game that always seems so sweet and lighthearted. The Happy Escape 8 manages to be both silly and smart, which is hard to pull off, though it's not as difficult as some games Tesshi-e has made before. A lot of the items you'll need to barrista your way out are hidden behind coded locks, and finding the clues to open them is mostly just a matter of observation. It's short and sweet in all the right ways, complete with a little gift at the end, and while you may wish it lasted longer, that's sort of the ultimate praise to give a developer, isn't it? Kick back with a cup of your own favourite beverage and relax with this post-Christmas treat. I wonder what "Mild Escape Coffee" tastes like anyway?... birds and hippos?... gross!