Escape Academy is a school for professionals in the field of escaping from video games
Let’s say I lack originality: I really like quests. Of course, for the observation and deduction they call for, but also (and perhaps above all) for the thematic immersion and collective stimulation that allows them to be not only a sequence of puzzles, but also a real group experience. So the idea of practicing it in the form of a video game with Escape Academy was as promising as it was dangerous.
After all, quests are already “point and click in real life”. Isn’t the sentence “point and click in real life, but point and click again” basically a bit of a regression? Unless a video game manages to very intelligently use its medium for an ingenious transposition that could not be imagined otherwise than in this form…
Escape Academy is a true escape video game developed by Coin Crew Games, published by iam8bit and Skybound Entertainment and available from July 18th on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series – no Switch unfortunately, yes. It can be played alone or as a duo, online or… locally in split screen (yes, yes, it still exists outside of Borderlands!), it sells for €20, and the Season Pass goes for €15.
The game has been tested in single player and split screen on the Playstation 4. It goes without saying that in this short review we will not include any elements that allow you to solve the puzzle, and we will not talk about the rooms that you will open as you go. Adventure. .
Is escape in video games a good idea?
Escape without physical manipulation, without the feeling of really exploring a place designed by hand, and only alone or with one person (where escape is practiced more likely in 3-4 people) is not so reassuring … On the contrary, escape-escape is extremely expensive, in while with Escape Academy you have access to ten €20 base game rooms – even if they last between 20 and 45 minutes rather than an hour – plus another ten €15 extras with the Season Pass, which includes two expansions with promising titles: “Escape from the Anti-Escape Island” and “Escape from the Past”.
In addition, I often find the difficulty of quests miscalibrated, because it always frustrates me that we can be taken out of them at the end of the allotted time, and therefore such a beautiful hour, such an expensive one, ends exactly in failure. It’s also what I usually like about video games: we know that defeat doesn’t stop us from trying our luck again, and there’s no limit to the amount of time we have to try again and again. So the prospect of escaping a video game where we could immediately replay a failed mission and where we are even given more time against a final score penalty is encouraging.
And if you can ask for a hint in a real escape, I always do it with pain, because it looks like an admission of failure when you ask for a hint in a video game, as you can certainly do in the Escape Academy, still against penalties, much more often .
Finally, material shoots are necessarily limited by … material. Whereas Escape Academy can have us roam large gardens, huge computer rooms with lots of hidden parts, and multiply “technological” elements without fear that the player will make a bad manipulation, endangering himself or endangering the material itself. In short, we can be made to navigate in a more controlled, larger and more diverse environment, and even offer us interactions that would otherwise be impossible, such as painting a wall with a single click.
We note right away that in this regard, Escape Academy disappointed me a little. The environment is very well designed, it’s hard to take away, but what I love about escapes is that I feel like I’m on a train, in a witch’s hut, on a submarine… we have this kind of ambition from time to time, I still get the impression that this dive into completely different topics could be much stronger – but the name of the extensions may well suggest that this may happen in the future.
The name of the game, Escape Academy, may come as a surprise. Admittedly, Escape Simulator is already busy, but after all, what’s the connection between the questline and the Academy? The thing is, Escape Academy… is a scripted game with very little space for Harry Potter and Pokemon.
So, at first, you’re just a regular player about to try out the somewhat seedy quest room next door. In fact, the only room is very simple and will take you less than ten minutes. But when you leave, the administrator is gone and you can no longer leave the premises. The reception room then becomes a second quest room, more difficult than the first. Having learned the basic commands of the game (move, run, observe/take, open inventory, ask for a hint), you understand that you need to bring paper and pencil and even connect many elements yourself. which are served to you.
In fact, these two rooms are just a tutorial: once the solution to the second is found, you are invited to board the train to get to the Escape Academy, where the game really begins, and where it is explained to you that you must collect ten badges in ten quests. You will almost always have a choice of the order in which you can complete the next two/three escapes, depending on the difficulty and length displayed most often.
In fact, this scenario is clearly sewn with white threads. We don’t give a damn about her rival, having a room is just a center where we won’t go back, the teachers are so behind that we even forget they’re there…but we didn’t expect such an escape. video game, and in fact we’d be very grateful for this concern for the creation of the universe and the logic of the story, however subtle they may be, to tie the rooms together and give you the vague impression that what you’re doing makes sense.
The rooms themselves…really quests. Please note that if you have already completed several quests, then you will not be superfluous at all: of course, you will search garbage cans, count glasses on the table, notice strange colored spots, distinguish at a glance Take a look at locks with keys, 3-digit codes, 4-digit codes, symbols… And, of course, you will quickly understand what you need to write down and what to share with your partner.
Moreover, in this regard, Escape Academy seems to me really more interesting together than alone. I know not everyone likes split screen and it seems like we can’t avoid it even online… However, I think collaboration is what will really change the puzzle streak and the real escape experience where split attention and communication are essential both for processing sometimes a large amount of information, and for combining different points of view. And in this, the split screen will be more of a help than a hindrance, because we will always know where the other is, that we will be able to see other places through his eyes, and that they will even be able to stop at the code facing the text to be deciphered, which will allow you to overcome puzzles without having to blacken sheets and sheets of paper.
As already stated, by filling the room, you will receive a score depending on the time it took you and the number of hints requested. In addition, you will be shown in the form of pictures all the solved puzzles and for how long. Well, the information we skip is a little quick, but not a discount premium, especially when we’re playing with two, and so we might be a little curious about what the other one solved in cases where some puzzles were solved in isolation.
Please also note that you can remodel the rooms. Well, it’s not very interesting, because even if you had bad weather and asked for a lot of clues… you know the room and the solutions, so redoing it will definitely be too easy, but it allows you to pass the controller to friends passing by… Once again, a small idea that has no real reason to attract attention, but whose intent we can appreciate.
To still find small criticisms, we will note the camera, which is too sensitive, it lacks the accuracy to have exactly what we want in line of sight. It won’t cause the slightest annoying wrong click, but maybe we can get a little annoying a few times. As for the art direction, I’ve seen some who find it controversial, although personally I really like this slightly vintage simplicity that at least allows you to understand distances and shapes without any effort, while striving for photorealism would make the image much more intricate, besides of course increasing the risk of errors and increasing the note.
Escape Academy: A game to escape from or lock yourself into?
If you like quests or even just puzzles, or you’re looking for small games to keep yourself busy for a few evenings with a partner, Escape Academy might seem like a very suitable choice.
A “basic” game will take you about 6 hours, a little less if your expert quest experience allows you to immediately identify “classic” room solutions, more if you are less used to them, that you are alone, and that you fail from time to time . In terms of price, this is reasonable given the quality of the room design, the puzzles, and the fluidity of everything, especially since the season pass should double the lifespan by adding ten rooms.
This is because the exercise of transferring the logic of a physical quest to a video game is quite successful. Not only do we believe this, but Escape Academy knows how to take advantage of the virtual environment to reveal some assets that would be unthinkable “in real life”. I’m just looking forward to the expansions, hoping they can push the use of format specifics a little further for more themed and more amazing rooms!