Escape Room games have been a hot trend for a while now, with entire franchises like Rusty Lake and mc2games being built upon the principle that you need to solve the puzzles and get out of the room/area/spooky place. With the pandemic closing down a lot of real-life escape rooms, gamers have been looking to these virtual alternatives to get their puzzle fix. Enter – Escape Academy.
Escape Academy’s premise is simple – you’re recruited as a new student to the prestigious institution which has been churning out legendary Escapists for years. If you manage to solve enough puzzles and earn enough badges, you’ll be able to graduate. While the premise is intriguing and the setting of the Academy itself is interesting, the game plays quite linearly, basically taking you from one escape room to the next, with a light plot that overarches the entire game.
The plot is serviceable and the handful of characters you meet are all interesting, like the Headmaster, your rival Gillian and art professor Slip. Unfortunately, there’s not all that much interaction with any of them, which seems like a wasted opportunity. The same applies to the plot and setting itself, as one can imagine a campus full of quirky individuals, weird history, and strange motivations, yet we only end up seeing a tiny fraction of that.
The game’s real focus is, of course, on the escape rooms and the puzzles within. Every room or area that you need to escape from is different, from the botany greenhouse to the multi-story Thresher building that is rapidly filling with water. You’re not just stuck in remixed versions of the same four walls for each new challenge, which is nice. With different goals and twists, each escape scenario feels unique, and unlocking a milkshake in time is vastly different than stopping Professor Bonilla from blowing up the quad.
All of the puzzles themselves are different as well, there are no color-swapped sliding puzzles that you need to solve in every room or really much repeating of any puzzle elements at all. You’ll have to coordinate colored flowers on a map, test canisters to see what they contain based on the colors released, and decode neon-colored, nonsensical graffiti. The best part, however, is that all of the puzzles are completely logical.
I’ve played a fair few puzzle games in my time and I was honestly going into this expecting to be frustrated with the lack of logic involved or confused by the developer’s leaps in logic or baffled by just plain bad puzzle design. Escape Academy had absolutely none of that, and once you beat a room, the game lays it all out for you, just in case there’s something you didn’t understand or an answer you stumbled upon by accident. Also, if you do happen to get stuck, there’s a great hint button that points you in the right direction.
Escape Academy has a fun, vibrant art style, with lots of bold, bright colors everywhere. The character portraits are also done in a charming, 2D style that really gives detail to them and shows the character's personalities. The actual 3D character models end up looking a bit less impressive, like more rounded versions of Gumby, but fortunately they don’t move all that much.
Escape Academy is a great foray for puzzle and escape room enthusiasts, with excellently constructed puzzles and a fun setting to play in. The art design is bright and colorful and the characters, for what little we see of them, are quirky and fun. If you’re looking for a series of escape rooms or a puzzle game with excellent design, Escape Academy is just that, but don’t expect it to get any deeper.
TechRaptor reviewed Escape Academy on Xbox Series S with a copy provided by the publisher/provided by the developer. It is also available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Xbox One.
- Excellent, logical, diverse puzzles
- Fun Characters
- Bright Art Style and Setting
- No Real Depth to Characters or Setting