Welcome to Escape Academy, where you will be put to the test to see if you have what it takes to become a master of the art of escape. What might seem like a typical day in an escape room takes an astounding turn as you get put into death-defying puzzles, somewhat intense rivalries, and discover hidden secrets about a not-so-harmless school.
Escape Academy is filled with puzzles that will make you second guess the world around you. Something as simple as a pen sitting on a table can help you uncover a hidden key waiting for you behind a bookshelf concealed by a brick wall. You never know what path the game will take when you are completing one of its various puzzles. Because of this, Escape Academy has turned out to be one of the more exciting escape room sims there is.
Not much is spoken at the academy
To be frank, the story of Escape Academy is nothing to write home about in an encoded letter. While the characters are often quirky and the story offers a few laughs in between its deadly puzzles and daring escapes, it isn’t the main focus of the game. The story boils down to various talks you can have with the professors and your rival at the academy, some dialogue that appears before and after each puzzle, and bits of information that you can obtain from newspapers and items that are sprinkled about.
The knowledge you gather won’t really help you complete any puzzles but will give context to the world around you and make it feel more whole. The only part of the story that I feel needs improvement is the rivalry aspect. It feels very short-lived and doesn’t have as high enough stakes as many might think it should have. Instead of continuously coming across your rival in daring escapes, you are challenged by them only once before they start asking you for help.
Start the timer
The main focus of the game is the puzzles that you solve during your time at the academy. From hacking into terminals to performing deadly escapes, the fun never stops. The developers wanted to capture what it is truly like to be in an escape room, and they succeeded. The moment that the timer starts, the pressure is on and you will find yourself scrambling to find the next clue, key, or talisman. Often the timer is accompanied by disasters like machine gun turrets or rapidly rising water to increase the pressure. All of this in first-person perspective enables you to feel like the stakes are real and that failure is not an option even though it is mainly a facade. If you fail one of the rooms, you can choose to quit or keep going. If you keep going, more time will be added and you can continue on.
In true escape room fashion, anything that even remotely looks out of place could be the key to getting out. A code for a lock could be written in invisible ink on the back of a statue, or you might need to jimmy a lock open with a knife. When you enter these rooms, you really need to expect the unexpected because they will test your puzzle-solving abilities. Despite the odd usage of tools, they never seem too out of place to the point where you wouldn’t expect it. Luckily, the game starts off with some easy puzzles with some simple locks and phrases to help you get acclimated before leaving you to drown without any water wings. You also have the capability to ask for hints should you need them, though the more you ask for them, the longer it takes for the hint timer to refresh.
Even though Escape Academy lacks a strong story, it more than makes up for it by giving you a good number of puzzles to solve. Every room feels unique since they are all built with different styles that reflect the teachers that designed them. The only complaint that really arises about the content in the current game is that there isn’t more of it. If you are fast at solving puzzles, you can easily beat the game within a few hours. Hopefully, we get more rivalries, more puzzles, and more quirky teachers in our second semester. For now, we have a solid first semester that really shows how fun escape rooms can be.
7 / 10
|+||The pressure of solving the puzzles is quite motivating|
|+||Each room feels unique|
|+||Puzzles force you to think outside the box|
|–||Lack of conflict in the story involving your rival|
|–||The game as a whole is rather short|