Escape Simulator is a fantastic and challenging puzzle game that really makes you think. It’s one of the more challenging puzzle games and some of the puzzles are so bloody clever once you figure them out.
Escape Simulator is a first-person puzzle game by Pine Studio and releases on Steam in the early hours of October 20 for us here in Australia. I’ve been playing this virtual escape room simulator the past week and I’ve been absolutely stumped on many of the puzzles featured across 15 interactive escape rooms. The best part has been playing co-op with my brother-in-law Justin who is a puzzle game fanatic. Even he was struggling himself, so we thought two heads in co-op would prevail – nope. This game had us both stumped numerous times, but when you finally crack that code, it’s an awesome feeling.
After customising your character, you can choose to dive straight into one of the 15 rooms across three locations or play through the tutorial room. I’d recommend hitting the tutorial room first as it will teach you the basics of searching a room, rotating, and looking inside items for clues or tokens, and solving puzzles. The tokens are hidden in some hard to see places, especially in later levels. There are still so many that I am yet to find, and sometimes I will sweep a room three or four times and seemingly give up, only then to find yet another one!
The puzzles are designed by real-life escape room operators and often multiple puzzles will connect to complete the whole room. Whether you start in the Labyrinth of Egypt, Adrift in Space or Edgewood Mansion, rooms will contain lots of mundane items to throw you off the scent. Things such as bricks, shovels, pieces of wood and vases are strewn throughout each scene. Then again, there have been items I’ve discarded early on, only to pick them up again and they’ve been the piece of the puzzle I was missing. Items that are important will have a book or key icon in the description which you’ll want to pick up and store in your pack. Sometimes breaking a vase will reveal a key or piece to a puzzle, and often you may pick up a mundane item and discard it, only to hear a token drop or the thing breaks revealing something else. It’s all super clever stuff.
Each room contains a ‘trash can’ designed to meld into the room’s interior design and these are very useful as you need to keep the room clear of clutter, especially in some of the space rooms with no gravity. This is because there are so many possible ways to search a room that sweeping the sand is even a possibility. You can break a vase, trash all the pieces, then break the next one as you methodically eliminate options so that you narrow down clues. Occasionally you’ll pick up a book that will contain instructions for how to open a latch, or in what order you may need to operate something. If all else fails, there’s a button in each room with a question mark on it which will give you a sheet of paper with a hint on it.
I still haven’t solved all 15 rooms in Escape Simulator, nor found all the tokens, far from it, but damn am I having a great time. The music keeps your mind calm as you methodically approach each room and its challenges. If, ultimately, you just can’t figure out what to do next, I recommend backing out to the menu and trying another room, as opposed to just going to YouTube and looking up the answer. These types of games are far more fun and rewarding if you can work out the puzzles for yourself. Alternatively, phone a friend and get them to join in the fun. The developers said they had 17 of them in the one room once, however they recommend 2-3 friends for the optimal experience.
For those creatively inclined, there is a workshop mode where you can create your own escape room and release these through the Steam Community Workshop. I’ve seen a preview of a room based on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’s idol on a pedestal scene and it looked fantastic. It’s going to be awesome to see what players come up with. I reckon there will be rooms that will be impossible to beat.
Escape Simulator is a fantastic and challenging puzzle game that really makes you think. It’s one of the more challenging puzzle games and some of the puzzles are so bloody clever once you figure them out. Pine Studio keep increasing the quality of their games and I recommend having a look at their previous titles such as Faraway: Puzzle Escape or Cats in Time.
This review utilised a key provided by Nerd Pirates and Escape Simulator releases on Steam on October 20, 2021 for us in Australia.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis