App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
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Waking up alone in a locked hospital room covered in blood would be enough to make anyone nervous. But as easy as it might be to panic in such a situation, it’s important to keep a relatively level head. At least if one is to have any hope of escape. And survival. Although in this case patience is also a necessity.
Real Escape is an “escape” game not unlike what anyone familiar with the genre would expect. There’s an ominous locked room, the means to leave are scattered about in obscure puzzle form, and getting out is the top priority. What makes this particular example stand out is the use of gyroscopic controls to look around the room, creating a much more engrossing experience for the player. Assuming they have a gyroscope-enabled device (iPhone 4/4S, iPod Touch 4, iPad 2) in the first place.
The puzzles in Real Escape walk a fine line between frustrating and manageable. Fortunately, for the most part, they hit that sweet spot right in the middle where a given task might take several minutes (or more) to piece together but feels incredibly satisfying once it’s done. It’s also a rather “pretty” game, with all the dingy walls and grimy floors looking appropriately gross. What’s more impressive is that it’s all rendered in real-time. No pre-rendered backdrops here.
Real Escape isn’t a perfect distraction, however. Not by a long shot. Aside from the fact that its key feature (gyroscopic controls) doesn’t function on older devices, the stand-in controls are also backwards. Playing on my 3GS required that I swipe left to turn right, up to look down, and so on. The same holds true for using the accelerometer to shift the view when zoomed in on most objects. But the most troublesome problem I’ve run into by far has to be the exceptionally cluttered interface. Conveying information to the player is essential in puzzle games such as this, but to do so at the cost of being able to see said puzzles is just wrong. It’s even worse once the inventory is open and an item is selected. It becomes a sea of unnecessary visuals blocking my view. On top of that the text or graphical hints for some puzzles are far too small on the iPhone’s screen.
While Real Escape is certainly a neat, good-looking, and clever little escape game thanks largely to the use of the gyroscope, so many of the smaller but no less essential elements seem to have been overlooked. It’s fun to play, and solving the obtuse riddles feels great, but it can be a real chore to wade through the interface to do so.