I’ve never done a real life escape room, but after going hands-on with Escape Academy, I think I’d probably like it.
Developed by Coin Crew Games, Escape Academy aims to bring the popular activity of escape rooms to the digital world. But it doesn’t just do so by providing a selection of escape rooms for players to delve in and out of. Instead, it plays to the medium’s strengths, adding in elements that wouldn’t be possible in real life, and adding a narrative that ties its challenges together.
It’s ironic that Escape Academy takes place in an escape room facility. Being the inquisitive person that you are, you’ve happened upon a secret door. And beyond it lies the titular academy; a place where promising students train to become the ultimate escapist. The question is, do you have the skills to see it through?
Made by a team that loves escape rooms, Escape Academy came about when they felt that the genre was underserved in the digital space. And so with their expertise, they set about creating something that should please fans of escape rooms and traditional video games.
Enter Escape Academy, and you’ll find there are over a dozen escape rooms to overcome. And from simply escaping a room to hacking a computer, they each have their own goal and puzzles. We went hands on two of these rooms and found ourselves utterly engrossed in the action. With the time ticking down you really feel the pressure, and when you finally find a key piece of information that allows you to get that one bit closer to achieving your goal, you can’t help but feel elated.
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Ringing a random phone number you’ve found on the wall, for example, might just lead to a message that you initially dismiss. But then you might have an Eureka! moment, realising that it is actually, in fact, a valuable crumb. Needless to say, Escape Academy requires you to solve puzzles, think outside the box, and investigate everything. Coin Crew Games doesn’t believe in red herrings, so everything you find in these rooms is there for a reason.
And some of the puzzles are brutal. This is the type of game where you’ll need a pen and paper handy for – or at least the notes app on your phone. We were grateful for having a notepad at hand when attempting to solve a devious sudoku, for example, and then when trying to ascertain the numeric value for sequences of coloured shapes using a key. It makes you feel further immersed and involved.
Being a video game, Escape Academy also introduces an element of danger to its rooms that real-life health and safety rules just wouldn’t allow for. One room, for example, will have you vying to keep your head above water, solving puzzles to move upwards. It’s essentially five mini-escape rooms back-to-back, with added dread for those who suffer from hydrophobia.
Escape Academy needn’t be seen as a game for the escape room hardcore, though. While it is challenging, there’s a hint system if you get stuck, nudging you in the right direction. You can continue if you run out of time, too. Being an academy, however, your performance will be graded, and these things will be taken into account. A nice touch is that at the end of each escape room challenge you’re provided a run-down of events, highlighting how long it took you to find key items and solve certain puzzles.
You can play Escape Academy alone if you wish, though it’s in co-op where it’s really going to shine. Having to work together as a team just adds another element to the fun. You really need to communicate and put your heads together. You might find one clue and your co-escapee might find another, but only when you put them together might they make sense. Escape rooms even have puzzles adjusted for two players, making them more challenging.
All this and we haven’t even touched on the art style of Escape Academy, which is just wonderful. There’s a comic book-like vibe that runs throughout, bringing everything to life from the escape rooms themselves to the tutors of the academy, who will comment on your progress. Needless to say, Escape Academy is nearly just as interesting to look at as it is to play.
The good new is, you won’t have to wait long to play Escape Academy, either. It’s set to launch on consoles and PC on 28th June, so it’s just over a month away. We honestly can’t wait to play it again, and if you’re a fan of escape rooms or puzzle games we think you’ll love it too. Keep this on your radar.