#6 Escape Simulator

#6 Escape Simulator

October 20, 2021 0 By Owly

As a weird child fumbling through the 90s, I fell in love with a British show called Jonathan Creek. It was about a magician’s assistant who had a flare for solving puzzles. He would go on to use his ability to crack impossible murders. It terrified me when I was little but I loved it dearly. Jonathan Creek would always find the solution long after everyone else had given up. He taught me patience and that it can be a real advantage to see the world differently to others, plus he lived in a windmill which is just fucking cool. I like finding solutions to problems and the process and patience that they require. Today, I’m very excited to be helping promote Escape Simulator, which is the latest puzzle game from developer/publisher Pine Studio.

“We are a boutique game studio obsessed with crafting
extraordinary puzzle games on the cutting edge of technology”

Founded in April 2012 and based in Croatia, Pine Studio have established themselves as experts in the puzzle game genre. From humble beginnings, developing games in a garage, they have since grown to reach over 30 million players worldwide. This is incredible given they have a backbone team of around twelve.

Their first “big” release was in 2016 with SEUM: Speedrunners from Hell. Gameplay focused on speed and reflexes and is self-described as “a bastard child of Quake 3 and Super Meat Boy”. It boasts being “the world’s only competitive heavy metal first-person platformer”. The game has overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam.

A year later, SEUM was followed by Pine Studio’s debut adventure puzzle game Faraway, designed for phones and tablets. Taking inspiration from the iconic 1993 release Myst, the Faraway series became so successful that it spawned six sequels, with Pine Studio adding there is still more to come. The mobile version has had more than 5 million downloads and led to a Faraway: Director’s Cut eventually being released on Steam in the spring of 2021.

Having dipped their toes into the puzzle genre, Pine Studio went on a hot streak.

The Birdcage Series (2018) – The Birdcage is a mystery puzzle game in which a heartbroken king has trapped birds in golden cages containing ancient locks and riddles.

Escape Legends (2020) – Put your puzzle skills to the ultimate test in a ticking time bomb of a game that will prove if you have what it takes to escape first. It’s a fast-paced escape game with procedurally generated rooms that guarantee each new counter is totally unique. Use items and power-ups to thwart your opponent, always moving one step ahead. Be careful because your opponent can use those same power-ups! Think quickly, act strategically, and beat out everyone playing with you.

The Academy (2020) – The Academy is a puzzle-packed adventure set in a school filled with mystery. Leave your mark on Arbor’s Academy and find out why it only welcomes the best and the brightest. Are you ready to enroll?

All their experiences to date, have led to Pine Studio’s latest release. So, let’s play!

Escape Simulator is a first-person puzzler you can play solo or in an online co-op. Explore a growing set of highly interactive escape rooms. Move furniture, pick up and examine everything, smash pots and break locks! Supports community-made rooms through the level editor.

I had an idea of what this game was going to be like and it is everything I wanted it to be. I have played for just two hours, completing a third of the rooms, and I can happily report that it hits the nail on the head with perfect precision. This is a first-person escape room simulator. You can play solo or via online co-op. There are fifteen levels, divided across three themes – Labyrinth of Egypt, Adrift in Space, and Edgewood Mansion – and it is just a joy to play. For a tenner? Oh my word, buy it.

You can customize your character (with a few options) but that’s just a nice touch for co-op. The only time you see yourself is briefly at the end of each level.

On top of the campaign there is the ability to create your own rooms in the ‘workshop’, which you can serve up to the community. I will be very excited to see what other gamers come up with but I don’t think I have the imagination to create my own. Unless more rooms are added over time, I think it’s the workshop that will keep the player base coming back. Although, looking at the menus in-game, they give the impression more rooms are in the pipeline. So how do they work? You simply pick a room, and you are free to pick whichever you like, you don’t need to complete one to unlock the other – there is no overarching story – and then you get cracking. The room appears in front of you and you have fifteen minutes to escape. Not that anything bad will happen if you go over time. You can spend as long as you like in each room, but escaping in under fifteen minutes will earn you a trophy. Each level also has tokens to collect and tracking them down will eat up your time considerably. You can always complete the room and come back to get the tokens.

It is tense when you first start a room. You can’t hear the timer but as I was after the trophy I could feel its presence always. Plus, the rooms are really small. It may only be a game but given the context and the false sense of pressure to get out, those who suffer from claustrophobia may not enjoy this (or it might cure them – I’m not a doctor). That opening minute of trying to find my bearings gave me butterflies. You have to search the entire room, looking for anything that might point you in the right direction. You will move furniture, smash jars and pots to see if they are hiding clues, solve riddles, collect keys or all sorts, even read books to understand hieroglyphs. I played solo and so I could keep my thoughts organised but I imagine chaos, and hilarity, ensues in co-op,

The second theme is space where no one, except your co-op friend, can hear you scream.

Difficulty is relative, so it is hard to accurately convey how challenging this is. I enjoy puzzles and I love the premise of escape rooms. I played solo and got through five rooms in two hours. Nothing really stumped me and those moments where it clicks and everything suddenly makes sense is really addictive. Visually, everything looks wonderful with smooth, chunky objects, and everything is caked in bold, confident colours. It has a real charm, especially with each of the three themes having their own appropriate musical accompaniment. I didn’t encounter any problems or any bugs. As always, I’m playing on my MSI GF65 gaming laptop, with an i7 and RTX 3060, with all game settings at max. Smooth as butter.

The third theme is the stunning Edgewood Mansion

If you love puzzles then this is a must. For the price, there is plenty of content and being able to create your own rooms adds so much value and replay ability. I really like this game. It’s fantastic.

Well done Pine Studio and good luck with the launch! Escape Simulator is out now on Steam!

Website – pinestudio.com
Twitter – @PineStudioLLC