Canterbury, May 2017
Escape Kent are an independent operator on the outskirts of Canterbury, with two rooms so far plus a third in the works. We managed to find a slot for only one room, defending the earth from an alien missile. The backstory has you teleported aboard the alien vessel with orders to disable the missile and prevent it destroying Earth.
For an alien space station, the room looks quite a lot like generic industrial office space. They’ve clearly worked hard with the resources available, so that feels a bit harsh, but this isn’t a game that’ll blow you away with visual spectacle. It’s designed with an admirable effort to tie the puzzles to the theme, although I found the resulting story a bit incoherent.
The game uses several pieces of tech that are rather obviously not alien, but familiar electronics, which sometimes allow players to do more with them than is intended for game purposes. A couple of the puzzles struck me as a bit tenuous too, sometimes in the sense that we seemed to be using something as a code just because it was a prominent number not because there was a clear reason for it to be the correct answer, and sometimes in the sense that we got the idea of the puzzle but different assumptions produced different plausible solutions.
It’s an entirely satisfactory game though and had enough good points that I was happy to engage suspension of disbelief on the simplicity of the decor and the occasional incongruous bit of English or non-alien technology. The game’s finish is its strongest sequence, including a large-scale cooperative task that would likely be a bottleneck for a large group but which was great fun for two.
Alien Attack is a brightly coloured, fun game. It’s far from best in its category, but perhaps that’s because the theme and situation were always going to be a challenge to do well… Arriving in an alien science laboratory, you are humans tasked with preventing an alien attack on Earth. Unfortunately, on what seems to have been a fairly limited budget, the alien laboratory does seem rather like a repurposed office with some kooky artefacts in it. The tech is decidedly human, and that’s unfortunate as with a little more budget (or attention to detail, or design and manufacture skill) it could have been made significantly otherworldly (and I’d love to see that). Attempts were made to use alien language – although as that’s not done consistently, it jars a little.
Criticisms of the theme aside, the game itself is still fun to play! The puzzles are nicely challenging, and the main physical game component is worth it to play (and comes with a nice sense of achievement when you find it and work out how you’re going to do it). At one point we found ourselves playing like a point-and-click adventure (“ok, well what if we try this with this, then”), but that’s mainly because we sometimes let ourselves down searching the room and finding everything we need.
If you’re already in town, and you fancy squeezing in a quick extra game – this will do nicely. It had a few nice elements, and the rest worked just fine.