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Escape Simulator Review [PC] | Brimming With Potential

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Escape Simulator completes the concept of escape rooms. What started out as an abstraction of a video game mechanic has reverted to its original form which is delightfully fun to experience with a group of friends. The pandemic may have hampered our ability to participate in IRL escape rooms for now, but Escape Simulator offers an ideal alternative.

From the team at Pine Studio, Escape Simulator does exactly what it says on the tin. It presents 16 themed escape rooms and it’s up to you to solve the puzzles in each one. These are all relatively small spaces, making each level a complex puzzle box that needs to be solved.

Variety is the spice of life

Each of the 16 rooms is themed around one of the three themes. There’s the Ancient Egypt collection, a selection of spaceship-themed ones, and the rest is designed like a classic mansion. Each of the different themes offers unique twists to the puzzles, keeping things fresh as you play through each room. It’s a tricky challenge for Pine Studios to refresh every room, but the team managed to pull it off. We don’t have the impression that the puzzles are recycled.

The gameplay lets you roam the 3D rooms freely, but they are otherwise akin to a point-and-click puzzle like The Room. You can pick up and examine items for other clues, or even drag or throw them. This can sometimes make the room cluttered and confusing. However, a useful bin is there for players to store unwanted items, and it’s pretty clear you’re about to throw away something important.

Credit: Pine Studios

Sweet and simple

The game is wrapped in an incredibly attractive art style. Similar to something like Planet Coaster, the almost plasticine aesthetic removes any ambiguity from the game. Particularly in point-and-click games, the gameplay can often boil down to random clicking in the hope of finding the right pixel. . In Escape Simulator it is always very clear which elements are important in moving the puzzle forward. This is achieved mainly through the art style, but also through useful icons in the user interface.

Much of the fun comes from playing in the escape rooms with your friends. Each escape room can be played with up to four players. Just like in a real escape room, they provide a great opportunity to bond or argue over how to solve each of the puzzles. Solving each room will often solve multiple puzzles at once, so there’s usually never a time when players are standing around doing nothing. The ability to look at the same item and see each other’s sliders is a handy collaboration tool.

Credit: Pine Studios

Brewing potential

Of course, the sad reality of puzzle games like Escape Simulator is that once you’ve completed all the pieces, you can’t play them again unless you forget about the solution. Escape Simulator has a few solutions to this problem, one of which is in the form of collectibles and speedrunning. There are several tokens hidden in each room, giving players something more to hunt in addition to the solution.

There is also a 15 minute timer on each room for which you get a reward for completing each room. Once we got into the flow of things, my friend and I found we were quite capable of completing parts in under 15 minutes on our first try. However, a few tricky issues have sometimes confused us.

The other big trick of Escape Simulator comes in the form of user-generated content. A full-fledged content creation tool is featured in the game and allows players to create their own escape rooms. Shared via the Steam Workshop, this powerful tool has the potential to extend the replayability of Escape Simulator indefinitely. There is already a plethora of custom user content on the Steam Workshop, so time will tell if this is a feature that’s taking off.

Credit: Steam

Is it worth it?

I sincerely hope this takes off as the underlying game mechanics provided here are incredibly robust. It reminds me of games like “Golf It! Which also allow you to import personalized cards. With the right user-generated content, Escape Simulator could turn out to be a great game to relax with your friends while engaging the brain.

There were a few minor bugs that I encountered during my time with the game, however. Items held by other players would often come in and out gradually when shared with other players. This sometimes made collaboration tricky. I also had a case where a crucial puzzle piece disappeared completely, forcing us to start the puzzle all over from scratch.

Aside from a few minor technical issues, Escape Simulator is absolutely worth your time. If you and your friends have been craving escape room action throughout the pandemic, then Escape Simulator is a sure-fire alternative that won’t disappoint.

The code was sent to us by Pine Studio PR for review.

Tested on a PC including:
Intel i9 10900K processor
16 GB 3600MHz Corsair Vengeance RAM
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card

[Featured Image Credit: Pine Studios]



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