If it's Friday, this must be Friday Flash! Every Friday I present three (or more!) games for you to enjoy. Most games require the Adobe Flash Player, and I do test all of them on both Mac and Windows. I try to remember to let you know when there is music or sound, too, in case you're playing in a quiet environment.
This week we're going to explore the concept of "escape games." There's a tradition of these things on the web, and they're… different. Slow-paced, they're often very challenging. How can you combine various bits of information you find within the game to escape from the game?
We'll start with the works of Toshimitsu Takagi. His series is notable for being very simple and yet incredibly frustrating. In each puzzle you need only escape a single room, and at first glance there doesn't appear to be much in each room. How hard can it be?
In Crimson Room, his first puzzle, you're in a small room with nothing to do but explore by clicking. There is one point at which clicking fails you and you need to type something, but before that, it's all clicking — and timing is everything. I've already given you more hints than I started with, but it took me 45 minutes to escape this room. Can you do better?
I wrote about this game in early 2004 and garnered 142 comments from people trying to escape and relying on each other for help! There is music when the game starts.
Once you've managed to escape that room — and bought the t-shirt — you can try to solve the Mystery of Viridian Room. Here the emphasis is not so much on escaping as solving the mystery of the room itself. The delightful "Engrish" opening sentences give way to a game that is both more difficult and more interesting than Crimson Room.
This one took me 90 minutes to solve, mostly hung up on two specific issues. Firstly, the (dark) monitor with which I first played this game made it very difficult for me to spot a card I needed. Secondly, if you restart the game you must get all needed information from scratch, because it changes every time you play. Clues collected once won't help if you start a new browser session!
I wrote about this game in 2004 as well, gathering 458 comments from frustrated people trying to solve the puzzle. There is music when the game starts.
White Chamber was new to me this week, and appears to be the trickiest yet. A knowledge of Morse Code might appear to be helpful at first, but in fact a complete alphabet is provided within the game, so all you really need is intense patience as you work through every letter until you get a match. The two cases in which Morse Code is needed are both English words, so after the first letter — or maybe two — you should be able to shortcut the process. I printed out a listing to save the switching back and forth between inventory items myself!
It took me 60 minutes to solve this one, and there is music, as before.
Blue Chamber was another new one, and seems the weakest of the set. With other puzzles one gets the sense of moving around a room, while in this puzzle it seems that you mostly stand in place, only turning to see all four walls. The standardized controls for shifting the view would be more welcome if the views were more worth shifting to.
It took me 20 minutes, but probably would have taken me much less time if I were more familiar with text messaging. As it was, it took me a while to figure out what phone number to call, even after I realized that I needed to examine a real telephone keypad.
Still, worth some time if only for the satisfaction of defacing currency!
Next up in the series will be "Pink Prison," and still later, "Tangerine Room." Let us hope that they're rather more like the first three in the series, and less like the fourth.
Leaving Takagi-san for now, let's go back to a previous online game, Mystery of Time and Space (aka MOTAS). The game has an older feel, as you don't move around each room at all. But then, it's a rather more elaborate environment, with 13 multi-room levels. One could spend not just hours, but days and even weeks inside MOTAS!
The last time I wrote about this game, in 2004, there were twelve levels. Today there are thirteen. And next year? Rumors suggest that Level 14 has been in testing for a while, so who knows?
As with the Takagi games, you click on things to find clues and combine items to open doors and solve puzzles. The system for using inventory items is rather nice, with a hand to grab and try things. In many ways that makes up for the more-simplistic visuals.
A recent entrant into the genre is being listed despite intrusive and inescapable advertising because it's that good. In The Car, the backstory is that you've got a really, really good reason to steal a car. It's basically yours, after all. I mean, you drew the picture on which it was based, and we all know that's basically as good as a title, and justifies breaking whatever security system you find protecting the car, right?
It's just a game, so leave the moral qualms behind and concentrate on stealing the car!
The sophisticated graphics and a nice heads-down map display make this game stand a head above its peers, but the puzzle itself is interesting enough to satisfy you as well.
Those are just some of the "escape games" available, but they should be enough to keep you busy for quite a while.
Until next week, happy gaming!Powered by Sidelines