REVIEW: EscapePod

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…

EscapePod - Screen

…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.

EscapePod - Screen2

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.

9 thoughts on “REVIEW: EscapePod”

  1. You know kid, I love puzzle games, always will. One of my favorite game of all time is Alundra, an old RPG with plenty of HARD puzzles, never beat it though. I’m currently trying to beat Gateways with no success, and I have been trying to beat La-Mulana for like 2 years now, so I also like to feel stupid. I would have ignore the game if it was not for this review, the next time I pick some points I will pick this one, along with the Wolf Among Us Season Pass. I miss the old days when the games has hard puzzles (Alundra, Abe Oddysey). Today games are very easy, so, the only hard puzzles only comes in puzzles games, with the exception of some indies like Gateways and La-Mulana, and those point n click games on PC. Although I heard some things about Catherine, I might check that one out.

    1. Never played Alundra, hmm. I was aware of it, and that it was an RPG, but didn’t know that it had a focus on puzzles. Interesting. Guess you learn something new every day.

      Gateways it’s a certifiable brain-destroyer, especially the very last puzzle. Which I never even attempted, after hearing how ridiculous it was. 🙂 Catherine is a solid puzzle game, or block-climber, if you will. I loved it for being Atlus, and for enjoying the story. The actual gameplay? The block-climbing? Not so much. I’m cranky in my old(er) age! I don’t want to stretch my brain unnaturally, trying to decipher codes and change paths on the fly. I stuck with it purely for the storyline and Atlus’ name on the box. With any luck, they’ll keep a similar style of art / storytelling for Persona 5.

      EscapePod ‘seems’ like a nice in-between, running from the somewhat simple to the more ‘A-ha, so that’s it!’ type of puzzles. I didn’t make it to the end, so I have no idea if it takes a sudden turn for the truly hard. It’s a fun game, though, from what I’ve seen so far.

    1. It’s a charm that grows on you over time, so a lot of people may miss it entirely due to the graphic style or the idea of a puzzler. Hopefully the review makes some curious enough to take a look. 🙂

  2. I passed on this originally due to the visuals but after reading your review I’m going to give it a go.

    1. I bought it. Thanks for the review otherwise I wouldn’t have ever known how clever of a game it is.

    2. Most excellent! It’s far from perfection, but the game is even more proof that you should never judge a book by its cover.

      I sort of did the same at first. I trialed it, thought it was a one-trick pony, and left it at that. The developer contacted me last week, and, given the incredible barrenness of the new release list, I agreed to take a second look. Then I proceeded to eat my words, 🙂 as the puzzles definitely make up for the visuals and limited sound.

    3. Did you get my message on FB…if not please go there and read it. I have a major concern and am happy you are in contact with the developer.

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