You should know by now. Always rushing around, whoring yourself out to the highest bidder just to get a meal or pay off perpetually-increasing debts, Life is a rat race. Or, to put it another way, a mad dash to a limited number of exit ramps, just to be one of the lucky few to live (and complain) another day. Though it doesn’t actually use this depressing view of human existence for its background noise, EscapePod ($1.00) is basically the digital equivalent of the idea in the purest form…
…as no matter the stage number or the pieces placed on the ‘board’, the objective remains steadfastly the same; get to the lone escape pod before the smiling alien does, in the (preferably) fewest amount of steps as possible. Think of it like Spaceballs’ escape sequence (minus the man in the bear suit) on repeat. The tiles in each level represent a potential path, and each path is one move in a grander game of chess.
Don’t let that simple requirement or the banal graphics lure you into a false sense of superiority, though. EscapePod may not be much (or, really, anything) to look at, but underneath its lackluster surface is some truly cunning, deceptive puzzle design that rivals the best on the service, in terms of making you appear stupid. Follow this free advice— The shortest and / or most obvious route is not always the right route, and watch as its complexity spirals outwards from there.
While the first set of levels keep it relatively simple, asking to you to occasionally race towards a key or a spike-swapping switch to throw your alien pal off his own route, later worlds introduce new considerations, such as one-move escalators, running lava, eventually-exploding fire barrels, etc., each with their own unique properties and pitfalls. All of this needs to navigated with you on a running timer, naturally, but the game has unlimited sympathy for your inevitable mistakes, allowing you to retry (or skip) the more frustrating sequences.
With 120+ reasons to prove yourself unstupid, the game has plenty of intelligent puzzles on tap, or there’s a level editor to try your own hand at designing. If you can forgive the trite visuals (its overly-affective doting on the color yellow is disturbing) and barely-there audio, EscapePod is one smart cookie.