When I used to play a lot on the internet, before having a console or an actual gaming PC, I used to play on websites dedicated mainly to flash games. And even being flash games, I remember my old family computer couldn't handle a lot when it came to animation, so even then I had to be picky with what I could play.
So I ended up playing a lot of games such as this one, without a lot of animation, and heavily text-based. Which was, probably, one of the reasons why I wanted to try out this game. Feeling again like my ingenuity is being tested and wanting to feel that sweet taste of victory after figuring out the puzzle that was right in front of me all along, that kind of stuff. So I went for this game, a new point & click game that seemed promising, hoping it wouldn't let me down. Will this game keep you hooked? Did it keep me hooked? That's what we'll talk about.
Without Escape is available for purchase on Steam for $6.99 USD.
This is a tricky one. While I do have to talk about the story here, being a point & click horror game that is, like most these games, heavily text-based without a lot of action (or a complete lack thereof) the story is pretty much the entirety of what makes this game what it is. So I'll try to write a little bit, just to give some context and not spoil anything.
In Without Escape, you will find yourself coming home one night, only to find out that your parents are not home. This is not weird to you because they have said they wanted to visit your grandparents soon, so that's where they probably are. You go about your night normally until bedtime, then, in the middle of the night, you hear something inside the house, and of course, you just have to investigate it.
From this point on, the weirdness begins. It is a normal house, the only things you'll find to be weird are some locked doors that shouldn't be locked and a strange painting of a symbol with blood on it.
The game genre is pretty self-explanatory on this one. It's a good old Point & Click (P&C) game where you do absolutely everything with your mouse. Even entering numbers on keypads will be done simply with your mouse. And that's really it. If you're not familiar with P&Cs by now, this is actually a pretty good game to start, even if it is a bit difficult compared to others.
If you are familiar with P&Cs, then you know the drill: Look at the room, find items or clues, figure out how they can be used to move forward on the story, and repeat. However, Without Escape brings in some riddles and more challenging puzzles than your regular run off the mill P&Cs, which is something I really enjoyed. At some points of the game you will get stuck because there's a closed strongbox that's asking for some specific password or combination, just hinting something that might make sense at all until you find, in a different place or a different time, that which is being referenced and then you make the connection.
Furthermore, the game doesn't just rely on what can be found within itself in order to confuse you. To move forward on the story you will have to employ some basic mathematics or general knowledge of the sciences or things of that nature. Either that or a basic ability to google stuff up, either one.
The game can also be saved at any time by returning to the bloody painting of the weird symbol the character doesn't recognize, so at least you'll always have a quick way out if you get frustrated or scared. Or both.
visuals and audio
Continuing with my trip down memory lane, I remember when I first started playing P&Cs that I was amazed how something with such simple graphics could keep me entertained as long as the story was at least remotely interesting. It didn't even have to be well-written, it just needed to keep going and that was enough for me to be in awe for hours at a time.
With that being said, it doesn't take much to make a game with decent graphics when the images are pretty much going to stay static the whole time. (or most of it, anyway). And yet, the images of the house and… other places are great, they are amazingly detailed and really help the immersion of the story. When talking about horror games, regardless of the gameplay, graphics will play a big role on the effect it has on the player.
When it comes to audio, this game has a constant soundtrack that adds on to the whole horror experience. The constant soundtrack is the typical sounds out of a horror game, the screeches and grinding teeth and whatnot. Now, the music can get repetitive over time, but that's only if you get stuck on a clue for a long time. As long as you move forward on the game, you won't even notice the music playing on a loop. It is only when you've been looking for the next step that it can become mildly infuriating.
Without Escape might have a run off the mill start in a genre that has seen many stories starting out the same way. However, it does get a lot better story-wise. In addition to this, I found that the puzzles are more demanding than on other games of the genre. Even if I found the game's writing to be a little dull at first, I was able to get past this once it had me hooked, because I was just trying now to solve the puzzles. It is simply too rewarding to do so because although they are far from impossible, they are demanding, so it doesn't feel like the game is patronizing you like it can sometimes happen.
The only two things that I can say I didn't like were the writing and the music. The first one because at some points it felt dry. In how they set up the story and some of the lines during the game. It came to a point where I wasn't reading the "default" text that's always on the bottom of the screen, and changes depending on which room an stage of the game you're on, but then, when I had been stuck for a while and actually read what I thought was default text, I found that the hint I needed was actually there. So I think having text in the box all the time can lead to one of those scenarios where people, like myself, will stop seeing it altogether.
The second thing is mainly my fault. The music is good, it goes with the genre and the ambient of the game. If it got on my nerves was only because I was taking too long to move on, but still, I feel that the music could be a little more varied, based on the other games I played, of course.
|+ Good graphics||– Plain writing|
|+ Interesting story once you are ahead in the game||– Repetitive background music|
|+ Intriguing and challenging.|