So, after living in NYC for a bunch of years and having a good amount of experience in the Escape Room industry there, I thought I would enjoy reviewing this game. I mean, my ex-girlfriend and I would frequent new escape rooms as often as the excuse found us. If it were up to her, every weekend, birthday or holiday was just another reason to find ourselves lost in someone else’s confounding imagination! Well, a new excuse has been found. Escape Academy is a Coin Crew/I am 8-Bit/Skybound, single and multiplayer endeavor to bring the everyday gamer into a world where Escapism is a teachable skill. I was right. I did enjoy this game.
Much of the expected tropes and mechanics of actual escape rooms were used and upgraded due to the imagination of the developers. In real life, most rooms are timed experiences. Clues are given but frowned upon. Solving the puzzle in the shape of a physical room, with the least amount of hints and as fast as possible is the name of the game, in both cases!
Except, these rooms come with a bit of a background story. Turns out that your fledgling, amateur interest in escape rooms ushers you into the secret world of Escapists. Behind the scenes, in a remote location, is the Escape Academy.
This is a university that teaches its students how to be the best Escapists the world has ever known. Solving mysteries, and crimes and resolving dire situations with the mindset of Sherlock Holmes and the escape skills of Houdini is how one wins in this new world.
An interesting amalgamation of real-world mechanics and video game imagination combine to take the player on a fun-filled adventure that will test your cognitive skills and perhaps, even teach you a new curse word or two. The game gets progressively harder in each scenario.
Relatively fast, you may find yourself asking for more clues and hints than you want to. Each room is rated and graded in the end. Depending on how often you asked for help and ultimately how fast you solve the puzzle, is how one is graded A through F. And yes, there are +’ and –‘s too.
Unfortunately, it was not all fun and games. While the game takes an everyday, real-life concept and translates it very well to cyberspace, it did fall short in a few places as well. I found the camera system, which was manipulatable via the System’s menu, was very awkward and especially so in Multiplayer mode.
This is hard to ignore when you’re trying to use your movement and sight as primary tools of the trade. I do believe that each player will have to tweak the settings to their own preference in order to find the fluidity they’ll need to be successful. Button pushing for results was up to par. A for Action, Y for the menu so on, etc. nothing too out of place or difficult to use.
I would like to point out that I enjoyed this game via MS Game Pass on the cloud where I have enjoyed so many other games lately, but something was askew. The game green-screened more than once. I do believe that might have more to do with Cloud Gaming with Game Pass than with Escape Academy but I would point out that it happened more frequently with this game than any other I’ve played using the cloud. (blink, blink) Triggered!
These concerns aside, I did indeed have a great time playing Escape Academy. Any issues one could have with the game’s simplistic graphics or somewhat clunky mechanics are thoroughly cast off as so as you receive the headmaster’s invitation to join the Academy as its newest enrolled member. It brought back many of the positive, thrilling feelings about doing this kind of thing.
Using the old noggin’ to solve puzzles and the gratification you get when you emerge from each room victorious, is undeniable. Escape Academy gave me all the feels. I really do hope more of you take the opportunity to “sign the waiver, count the clues and crack the lock” as I did. I believe you’ll not only have fun but experience the pride of “solving the conundrum” too.
Even this review is coded… best of luck solving it! Hint: play Escape Academy!