Escape rooms have always been popular. However, recently, they have evolved to a whole new level. New themes, ideas, and puzzles will test the most logically-minded individuals. Yet, their biggest downfall is the cost. Unfortunately, a day out solving problems isn’t a cheap event. Therefore, what’s the solution? Well, there are some great computer games that tackle this issue while thoroughly entertaining you. One such example is the newly released NEScape.
Developed by KHAN Games and published by 8 Bit Legit, this is a tough puzzle experience. What’s more, it is distinctly retro while offering no hints and absolutely no hand-holding. This brutal approach won’t be for everyone, but if you like to be tested and pushed to your limits, this is probably the game for you.
NEScape is harsh but rewarding.
Rarely do games rely solely on their core concept. Yet, this is exactly what NEScape does! With no story in sight and no explanation of why you are locked in a tricky prison, you are left to your own devices. Moreover, you are free to explore the 4 rooms at will, and you must decipher plenty of puzzles while finding every clue.
This is NEScape in a nutshell. It offers no guidance, and it loves to be cruel. Additionally, its pixelated and dated imagery makes the world tough to explore. However, its harsh approach is rewarding. Once you work out what you must do, there are plenty of eureka moments. Whether it is working out a hidden code, moving a ball through a maze, playing a song on a piano, or using “Blacklight” to find secret messages, it is a tough but thrilling experience.
Too hard for some.
Though I enjoyed every brutal moment, I understand that the steep learning curve and obscure nature of each problem won’t be for everyone. Instead, the lack of help will put many amateur puzzle enthusiasts on the back foot. Alternatively, these inexperienced players may simply stop playing altogether. That would be a shame, as once you understand the developer’s thought process, it is easier to progress.
Much of the action focuses on minor changes to each of the 4 rooms. Completing one puzzle will unlock a new item or problem in another area. Alongside this, there were puzzles that demand an eye for detail and a methodical mindset. With 4 chapters to complete, and a countdown timer, the pressure ramps up the longer you take.
NEScape is beautifully retro.
Though many gamers demand a modern and ultra-realistic approach, I love a dated aesthetic. Thankfully, NEScape is beautifully retro with its garish colours, blunt tones, and simple imagery. However, this dated style does make it harder to play. Sadly, much of the detail is lost and this can be frustrating. This is especially true if you play it on a larger screen. However, if you can work through these issues, you’ll enjoy the simplicity of the action, and the 4 unique fixed-screen rooms that must be explored.
What wasn’t so great, though, was the repetitive audio. The shrill and frankly annoying soundtrack will drive you barmy. Now, the 80s and 90s created some of the best gaming soundtracks ever, yet, NEScape seems to have missed that memo. Unfortunately, it is borderline unbearable even though it works with the era and the theme.
Surprisingly good controls.
I expected this to be awful to control. For unknown reasons, I convinced myself that it would be clunky and poorly executed. Thankfully, I was wrong. The rudimentary controls and simple navigation ensure that it is easy to pick up and play. However, there should be more guidance and, potentially, the developers should have created a basic hint system.
4 chapters don’t sound like a lot, but the brutality of the gameplay ensures there is both replay value and longevity. If you don’t use a guide and you go it alone, you will be stumped and pushed all the way. As such, you can fall at the last hurdle, even with the end goal in sight. However, once you cross that finish line, there is unfortunately no reason to return. Luckily, though, this is an inexpensive title, so its limited longevity is both understandable and acceptable.
NEScape is a great puzzle experience.
Though the core concept is tough and borderline sadomasochistic, I loved it nonetheless. There is nothing better than testing your grey matter, and NEScape will do that from start to finish. Yes, the developers could have created a hint system, and the detail could have been better, but these are minor issues. Accordingly, if you like a challenge that is both rewarding and unique, then look no further. I enjoyed it and I recommend that you buy it here! Can you find every clue and escape this unusual prison? Explore the rooms, solve the problems, and escape in under an hour.