STAFF REVIEW of Without Escape: Console Edition (Xbox One)

Monday, February 3, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

Without Escape: Console Edition Box art There used to be a time where point and click adventures were all the rage. Back in the early days of gaming, certain games like Myst were some of the most popular games around. But as technology grew, the genre seemed to pretty much die out save for a few odd titles here and there. As the saying goes, “Sooner or later, everything old is new again”, and developer Bumpy Trail Games has taken this to heart with their release, Without Escape. Harking back to an age of gaming that’s almost been long forgotten, Without Escape feels like it’s ripped straight from the 90’s with its first person graphic adventure, pre-rendered backgrounds and FMV cutscenes.

Do you remember when you were younger, when staying at home all alone at night might have made you nervous? Any small noise you heard got your imagination going full speed. Were you the type to hide under the blankets, or go to investigate? Given that hiding under the blankets would probably make for a dull game, this is how Without Escape begins, with you waking up in the middle of the night after hearing an odd noise.

As you awake just before 3AM, you notice a piece of paper beside on your dresser beside the bed. It has a phone number written on it that you don’t recognize, and thus begins your adventure and uncertainty. As you begin to explore your home, you notice odd symbols and other things that don’t make any sense, such as locked doors and finding hidden keys throughout. Where do these keys take you? Click on enough doors and objects and you’ll eventually figure out.

If you’re too young to have played a classic point and click adventure, or it’s been a long period of time since doing so, gameplay is summed up by looking at a pre-rendered screen, in this case, many different rooms of the house you’re in, and you have your cursor that you can move around, clicking objects to interact with them or to move to different scenes. There’s a cheesy film grain toggled on by default, but thankfully you can disable it in the options.

Some objects are obvious, like paintings, clocks, phones and such, but sometimes you’ll need to pixel hunt (essentially moving the cursor everywhere on a scene to find the clickable area) to find an object you might not even know you’re looking for. One item in particular had me looking up online what I was supposed to do to solve the current puzzle I was on. My main issue with the puzzles is that some of them are really obtuse. Why are you finding keys or switches in the weirdest places? And one puzzle in particular forces you to google something online unless you happen to know your periodic table of elements. With no combat or timed puzzles, you can take it at a leisurely pace.

As you click on objects, you may obtain certain items, such as a key for example, which will automatically be put into your inventory. You have the ability to look at your inventory of currently held items, but I’m not sure why, as they will be used automatically if you have it on hand and click the right door or object. Thankfully this means that there’s no trial and error testing every object with every item you’re currently carrying.

As you progress, things take a more supernatural turn. I don’t want to spoil anything simply because the gameplay is short; extremely short. In fact, it’s taken me much longer to write this review than finishing Without Escape itself. If you really wanted, you could follow a walkthrough online and be done in less than ten minutes. Yes, it can be that short if you wish. For achievement hunters, this is great, but if you’re looking for a long term puzzler, this isn’t the experience you’re hoping for. That being said, there are multiple endings for those that do want to see and experience all that Without Escape has to offer. My personal favorite moments in the short journey were the classic FMV cutscenes, and even though they only last a few seconds each, it definitely brought back some nostalgia.

While the genre may not be around much anymore, it’s always fun to play one again, as it brings me back to my early gaming days. While many might find a point and click adventure like this mundane and basic, it’s a widow into the past, showing how far gaming has come in such a short period of time. While some might find the length disappointing, it’s at least priced to match at just a few bucks. If you’re not a master at puzzle games, you might get an hour or so of gameplay out of it, but for most others, Without Escape will easily be beaten in a single sitting.

Overall: 5.5 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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