There are plenty of games in the Escape Game genre, and some could even argue that there is an overabundance of mediocre-quality titles sullying the waters. The stale genre waters are disturbed and freshened every now and then however, though it takes a particularly creative developer like Scriptwelder to part the waters and cut through the scum on the top. Their Don’t Escape series is now on its third instalment, putting their unique spin on the point-and-click escape-game genre. If you’re sick of games trying to get you to escape things, this review talks of Don’t Escape 3, a game where not escaping is in fact the end goal.
Not Your Usual Escape Game
The introductory claims made here, the ones that tout Don’t Escape 3 as the third genre-twisting game of a series of genre twisters, aren’t unsubstantiated. That much is clear from the very premise of the game. You’re a captain of a spaceship that’s just woken up in the airlock, knowing little else but your title and that the on-board computer is counting down in an ominous fashion towards something. Herein lies your very first challenge, and it will be one of many that requires you to avoid escaping your vessel by using logic and reasoning to point-and-click your way out of trouble.
The challenges you’ll face are numerous, with your first being to deal with the sinister countdown that’s started not long before your entrance into the game. Like many of the game’s challenges, the first requires you to choose between four options: ejecting, opening an internal door, aborting the ejection procedure, and restoring safety protocols. What follows in the rest of the game is more choices like this, each requiring you to use your mouse to point and click on various options and objects in order to progress to your next escape-avoidance task, which could be anything from finding ingredients for a chemical reaction to uncovering vital passcodes and preventing contamination of the ship.
The developers of this game (Scriptwelder, remember?) have clearly been inspired by various genres, with the atmospheric horror genre being the most prominent influence in this game’s presentation and progression. The graphics are in an 8-bit retro style (much like that of Infectonator), the on-board computers are basic and reminiscent of the hardwired technology aboard the Battlestar Galatica in the TV series of the same name, and the use of the mission logs to provide a retrospective on the mysterious events that have happened aboard creates a tense atmosphere not dissimilar to the old-school Resident Evil II.
The unbearably tense atmosphere cultivated by the game’s progression, its myriad of mysteries, and the impeccably-composed soundtrack make this one of the best flash games for guys in particular. This isn’t for the faint of heart, and that’s putting it mildly.
A Great Game of Tension and Horror
Don’t Escape 3’s action won’t be for everyone. Its target audience is likely to be your average male gamer, i.e. guys that don’t mind a bit of tension, a bit of puzzle-solving, and having a hand in the unfolding of a genuinely intriguing mystery. Visually, the game is well beyond many of its flash-game rivals; its soundtrack is also unreasonably atmospheric at its worst, and at best it’s chilling to your core. Don’t be mistaken: this game can’t compete in any real way with The Town of Light or any other paid-for Choose-Your-Own-Adventure games. It can, however, be proud in its twisting apart of the norms conformed to by the average, unremarkable point-and-click adventure game