Online, Oct 2020
There’s a stripped-down purity to the premise of this game: solve a puzzle! defuse a bomb! repeat! It’s a set of twelve puzzle challenges for you to tackle one after the other, wrapped in a thin narrative where each challenge is a bomb set to go off by a maniac who also happens to love puzzles.
The best way to get a feel for what The Mad Bomber Game is like is to watch the promo video on their website. Some escape game videos are cryptic or misleading; not this one. The fast-paced clip-art cartoon graphics are used throughout the game – each puzzle is a short video, which begins with a monologue from the villain followed by the puzzle itself. The puzzle is sometimes animated but more often static; after a pause it’s then replaced by an explosion animation. The explosion doesn’t mean you’ve failed; you’re expected to rewind as needed.
You could almost play it in real time for a hard-core challenge – watch the video and enter the answer before it reaches the ‘boom’. We did in fact do that with several of the steps, but I think it’s not practical in several cases where key information appears later on in the video or where you’re expected to replay sections.
Before getting this game, be warned that it is easy and short. The difficulty level increases as it goes on, but experienced puzzlers will find little to give them pause; you may well finish in around half an hour, with as much time spent watching the video intro sequences as actually working on the puzzles. So it’s a good thing the videos are funny – each one is a non-stop machine gun fire of jokes and visual gags. My teammate apparently has the soul of the Grinch and was left entirely unmoved by the barrage of cheesy puns; for me they were the main attraction.
All of which makes it a great intro game for beginners, in both style and difficulty level. Right from the start it kicks off with a walkthrough of a prologue puzzle that makes it very accessible to people who’ve never tried anything like an escape room before.
The other audience I’d recommend this game to is drunk enthusiasts. Or enthusiasts playing competitively. Or enthusiasts playing it as a competitive drinking game. It has exactly the right note for tipsy silliness. It’s the junk food of puzzle games, a quick sugar high – you might want something more substantial before or afterwards, but at the time it hits the spot.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.