Online, Jul 2020
The premise of Prototype is that while applying for a job at an escape room company you get stuck in their room… meaning that yes, this is a (digital) escape room where the goal is to escape from the escape room.
This is a digital point-n-click game, and in appearance and play style it’s closely related to the Flash-based digital escape games that were one of the original inspirations for physical escape rooms. You have different screens corresponding to different viewing angles within the room, and switch from one to another by clicking an arrow at the side of the screen. There’s an element of search, in finding the right things to click on, though thankfully all are a reasonable size – so no tedious hunting for tiny magic pixels. And the puzzles are less about using the right combinations of objects together and more the sort of puzzle you might find in a physical room.
The other big way it differs from the traditional sort of escape room computer game is that it’s designed for team play. Several people can use the same access code and play simultaneously, sharing a single inventory, and each time someone changes something a notification message appears on all players’ screens. There’s also a chat window, though you’ll be far better off using a separate conference call to communicate.
I thought the puzzles varied from ‘bread and butter’ familiar ideas (though still well executed) to a couple that were unusual and interesting. All benefitted from the clean, cheerful graphics style and a difficulty level that was accessible without being easy, and I found it an enjoyable and satisfying game to play through.
Although it compares well to other online escape games with a similar price point, the similarity of its play style to the many point-n-click games that are often cheaper or free (though typically less good) made it feel less good value for money to me. In particular, I thought it was a shame that there was no option to play it through again after finishing it, particularly as the team play system means you may have not seen some sections. I guess they don’t allow it to prevent people from using the access code for different people to play different games, but that still contributed to making it feel like a briefer experience.
But although short, it’s good quality throughout. While it resembles the common Flash digital games, the gameplay is a clear step up from all but the very best of those, and the team play system makes it much better suited for a group.