Salisbury, Jun 2017
Hidden away through a doorway and up a small staircase, Live Escape don’t have the most prominent entrance – and if you’re planning a visit, note that they’re currently only open Friday through Sunday.
The game welcomes you as experimental subjects for a benevolent organisation called RESPECT… and proceeds from there. This is a nicely phased game with different styles of play at different points, with some good hands-on physical tasks and then impressive tech elsewhere.
From the start the game gives you a lot of information, not all of which is relevant to the game; but once you get a feel for the style of the puzzles, there’s little cause for confusion over what should or should not be ignored. Later on there’s also quite a lot of curious mechanical objects to find, all clearly labelled as not part of the game.
Initially the story takes a back seat to a collection of puzzles, mostly using chunky wooden components, with a mix of physical and abstract solutions. One of these is a familiar puzzle type that some may dislike heartily – though this is a fairer and more pleasing implementation of it that I remember seeing before.
As the game progresses the story takes over, and it shifts to a more immersive, plot-driven and high-tech game.
I’ve commented elsewhere on how high tech games with very custom components can end up with a Simon Says type of clue, where the task largely consists of following a set of provided instructions. That’s true of a section of the endgame here. Still, it fits the story and worked fine, and more importantly the game has a couple of novel tricks to ramp up the tension here. Having had plenty of solid puzzling earlier on, the transition to a high stakes cinematic experience works surprisingly smoothly, and the atmospherics are brilliant.
It’s all built with flair and skill, down to small details like the cool hint system, for a greater level of immersion than most games can manage plus a lot of fun too.