Online, Nov 2020
The Escape Game have been one of the more prolific creators of play at home games this year; in addition to their avatar games, they’re now up to four digital online experiences. This one is not part of their Hahn narrative, but has a similar feel: you are agency operatives investigating wrongdoing and trying to hunt down the perpetrator, who in this instance is a scientist involved in some dubious research. The setting also jumps 30 years into the past, which is what the ‘1990’ in the title refers to.
If you’ve played their other online games then you’ll recognise the interface. It’s a facsimile of a computer desktop with options to view or download the clue items available to you, and also to enter solutions and review the messages and story videos you’ve received. This version is deliberately retro in its styling, to fit the game’s setting. I found I occasionally got a little buried in a stack of windows (which I suppose is a faithful recreation of what it was like to use a GUI in 1990!) but it’s a highly polished and user-friendly platform for the game.
My impression is that The Escape Game have really honed this format well. The structure is clear, the difficulty level consistent, the hint system good. At each step there’s little danger of confusion about what clues to use with which puzzle. That’s admirable, but at the same time makes it a fairly easy game for experienced players. There’s a reasonable number of steps, and the total game time is increased by the story videos, so it didn’t strike me as obviously content-light; but knowing what to do felt pretty straightforward at all points.
One specific step is rather US-centric, such that we knew what to do but had to take a hint to progress. A back-up alternative for players in other countries would be appreciated.
Easy though it may be, it’s a very well made game. I’d therefore recommend this as a game for beginners, or as a good choice when you’re in the mood for something less challenging. Like a Hollywood action movie, it won’t make your brain cells work all that hard but it’s glossy and enjoyable.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.