I haven’t been to that many escape rooms. In fact, prior to playing Escape Simulator for review, I had never been to an escape room. There is something about being confined to a small space and being forced to solve a series of increasingly complex puzzles in order to escape that feels positively Saw-esque. And while that particularly horrifying film franchise doesn’t come to mind when playing Escape Simulator, the whole ordeal was somewhat offputting to me. However, now that I’ve both played Escape Simulator and subsequently been to a real escape room I can confidently say that not only is it a genuinely phenomenal game, but it is far superior to the real thing.
“Helplessly throwing a tea set around while pondering how it links to any of the various puzzles is surprisingly enjoyable.”
Escape Simulator offers the player three environments each with five levels. There is an old-timey mansion, Egyptian ruins and a spacey one. While the lack of variety in environment types may seem like a negative, each environment’s five levels manage to capitalise on their fantastical settings to create distinctly unique experiences each and every time. This ensures that players seeking a longer play session can puzzle their way through a thematically linked series of levels all while enjoying entirely unique puzzles and locations each time.
Additionally, Escape Simulator can be played either alone or with a group of friends, and fortunately, either way is encouraged. I opted to play with my sister, and frankly, we did a horrendous job during our first few attempts. Each and every item within one of the various levels is interactable. This both simultaneously creates an incredible sense of immersion and a series of frustrating red herrings.
However, this is by no means a critique. In fact, red herrings are an integral part of an escape room. Helplessly throwing a tea set around while pondering how it links to any of the various puzzles is surprisingly enjoyable. It creates a sense of intensely fun chaos as you fling top hats and porcelain cups through a broken window because you feel you’ve searched every nook and cranny and come up empty-handed.
“The puzzles in Escape Simulator are challenging enough that when you finally solve them you’ll be filled with an unparalleled sense of glee and accomplishment.”
Of course, there’s always something you’ve missed. Fortunately, the puzzles in Escape Simulator are extremely challenging but in the most positive way possible. It is fair to say that I am not terribly puzzle-inclined. I often find myself stumped at even the easiest of puzzles, and was unsurprisingly not much assistance to my sister. However, there are usually enough clues and emerging patterns that eventually players will land upon the solution. The puzzles are challenging enough that when you finally solve them you’ll be filled with an unparalleled sense of glee and accomplishment. However, they are not too challenging that you’ll be banging your head against a wall.
Fortunately, to assist with these difficult puzzles, the developers over at Pine Studio have implemented some helpful features. For example, all players can look at and interact with the same object. Additionally, items can be stored in a player’s inventory so that they can access it at a later date. This ensures that not only do they have the items on hand at all times but that they don’t clutter up an already chaotic environment.
“If you were to play alone initially, then you can’t really bring a friend along to replay the levels with you. “
Unfortunately, there is a caveat to Escape Simulator. The major issue here is that once you’ve completed a level, there isn’t all that much incentive to go back. You can try and complete it within the limited time window to earn a trophy.
However, once you’ve figured out the puzzle, this will be an easy task to accomplish and therefore not terribly exciting. Additionally, if you were to play alone initially, then you can’t really bring a friend along to replay the levels with you. Otherwise, you’ll have to force yourself to not help in any way.
“With continued support from the community and the developer, Escape Simulator will become the ultimate escape room experience.”
However, despite all of that, Escape Simulator remains not only an excellent virtual escape room but also a phenomenal puzzle title to play with friends. I haven’t even mentioned the fact that players can create and share their own escape rooms with the community. The tools at the player’s disposal are fantastic and will likely allow for some truly incredible levels. This mostly mitigates the lack of replayability, as it will hopefully ensure a steady stream of fresh content.
It is also worth mentioning that Escape Simulator is a really beautiful game. Each location is brought to life in the game’s charming and vibrant visual style. There is personality and charm in even the smallest of details. It is clear that the developers have put a lot of love into the designs and details found in each setting. Additionally, you can also customise your character from a limited range of options. I found it to be a nice touch as it makes each player feel more unique and distinguishable.
It goes without saying that, with continued support from both the community and the developer, Escape Simulator will quickly become the ultimate escape room experience. Whether it’s new levels, puzzles or environments, future updates will absolutely keep this game going for a very long time. However, even in its current state, Escape Simulator is still an incredible game. I had a riotously good time and will be promptly purchasing it to play with my friends. For those looking for a virtual escape room experience, look no further than the truly brilliant Escape Simulator.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.