The escape room craze has grown over the last decade, as a concept it’s interesting, players are locked in a room and solve a variety of puzzles leading to the ability to get out of the location.
Escape games also have been around and were created around the same time as the Escape Room idea, so Escape Simulator isn’t a new idea, however, it’s an attempt to get on that same craze.
Escape Simulator has the player choose an Escape Room from a list of 25 levels, included within are four sets of five levels in a themed chapter, but each room can be approached in any order. From there, players are given fifteen or more minutes to solve all the puzzles in the room and escape them.
After fifteen minutes though, luckily the game doesn’t stop but lets players escape however long it takes. The fifteen minutes is the time to be awarded a “Trophy” for a set of achievements, conceptually an interesting idea, but having a major flaw in that after a player solves a single room, they can usually re-run that escape in a fraction of the time, since most of the puzzles have been solved.
That’s ultimately the biggest issue that Escape Simulator runs into, escape rooms or Escape games only work a single time. The experience has to be magical for the players because after the puzzles are solved and players leave the room, there’s no reason to return. The good news with Escape Simulator is there’s the ability for fans to upload their levels, but ultimately players will be at the mercy of the other designers.
As for the core levels of Escape Simulator, every level feels both unique and interesting, and I spent at least 5 hours enjoying the game. When a level is tuned just right, the experience feels amazing, but there are at least two or three puzzles that I’m not sure how to solve.
Inside the game, there’s the ability to press a button and get a “hint” with that button then give a new hint after each press. This is the best way to handle these puzzles so players don’t get spoiled by guides, however, those two or three puzzles I mentioned were ones where after all the hints were given I still have no clue the direction the game wanted me to go without the external guides’ assistance.
That’s always going to be a problem and with each puzzle only having one path to the solution, if a player misses a logical leap it leaves them needing to go to a guide to get the solution, and Escape Simulator does have a decent number of those leaps at times.
Similarly, there are 8 hidden tokens to find per level, which only grants an additional achievement per set of levels. Many of these are well hidden and will be things people will notice as they play through a level, but again this is something a guide is going to be useful for unless players want to examine every texture and location in a game.
In addition, there’s also a co-op mode, which makes sense as Escape Rooms are intended to be played by multiple people, but I feel like co-op would weaken the experience here because, for each player, there’s a 50 percent chance of solving a specific puzzle, a second person might help for when players get stuck, but for the most part, the desire would be to increase the experience for the player, not skip half of it while working with another person. For a large escape room, more players are necessary because there’s too much to do, but Escape Simulator never reaches that scale or necessity.
If you’re a fan of puzzles, Escape Simulator is a good time. There’s a lot of variety in the puzzles and well-designed locations, but after finishing the game, I have an issue, there’s only a handful of puzzles that stood out, and I believe that’s because there are limited tools for designing the level.
Last year I played Escape Academy which is a story-based game focused on Escape Rules. Academy had only 13 levels, half the number in Escape Simulator, but when looking at both games, Escape Simulator didn’t stand out as much. Escape Academy was a more impressive game, due to its variety and how every level stood out as a unique experience. Many of those rooms were unique in that a real escape room wouldn’t be able to do the same things in the real world. In Escape Simulator, every room feels like players are once again in a room of the same size and shape, and while the puzzles are unique, the grandiose feeling of solving a once-in-a-lifetime escape room is missing, and that’s really what Escape Simulator could have provided. The feeling of solving an escape room that would be impossible to do in real life.
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Escape rooms have become a popular form of entertainment in recent years, and Escape Simulator attempts to capitalize on this craze by offering a digital version of the experience. While the game has a decent selection of levels to choose from, with themed chapters and the ability to approach rooms in any order, the concept of escaping a room loses its magic after the puzzles have been solved. The game’s feature of awarding trophies for completing rooms in a certain amount of time is interesting, but ultimately doesn’t offer much replay value. However, the ability for fans to upload their own levels does add a layer of potential excitement for those looking for fresh challenges.