App Reviewed on: iPhone 4
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One key thing Portal exposed, something that is often overlooked, is how there's a serious lack of room-escape games. Ever since I saw a kid in an oversized helmet blindly make his way through the dungeons of the UK kids show' Knightmare I've wanted to play puzzle-based room-escape games, and Portal finally proved me right. So it's encouraging to see maystorm games explore the burgeoning genre with the German studio's awkwardly named 7HE CODE.
Compared to Knightmare and Portal, 7HE CODE is simple to understand. I play as a space marine (a fresh experience) working through the 3D training simulation program E.N.I.G.M.A. - one wonders if the letters stand for anything. Anyway, my job is to make it through each of the 18 rooms in E.N.I.G.M.A. by finding a three-digit code and a symbol in each room. The symbols are easy enough to find, with each one etched on one of the walls. Of course as the rooms get bigger they get harder to find.
The real puzzling meat is the three digit code. This is worked out by clues in the room. Some are pretty direct, like a puzzle written on one of the walls, but as I make my way through the rooms they tend to be more obtuse. The code might be deduced from looking at the number of sides specific objects have, or by looking at the room from a certain angle - I can't give too much away as there are only 18 puzzles, but let's just say a few of them teased my brain so much that they had to bring in the 148Apps counsellor.
And that's the important positive about 7HE CODE. Yes, the 3D environment of E.N.I.G.M.A is impressively presented albeit a little blocky, and navigating it is easy enough with the pseudo twin stick controls, but most important of all the puzzles are enjoyably challenging. There's a smooth difficulty curve from the first to the last room, and while some lateral thinking is eventually required it's never too out there so as to leave me totally confused. While none of the solutions will take a genius, the design of certain puzzles is really quite clever and shows a deal of talent on the developer's part. Even if players sail through 7HE CODEI think they'll still appreciate the work that went into the experience. Maybe there could be a few more puzzles, and more of an overarching narrative to bring them all together, but such things are not missed too greatly.
This is maystorm games' third iOS title and their experience is starting to show. 7HE CODE is easy to get into, but not all that easy to get out of; the hallmark of a good room-escape game.