Escape Academy on PC
Escape rooms have become a mainstay of entertainment all over the world in recent years, and with good reason. Here was a shared experience with friends or family that could test your critical thinking and puzzle-solving skills, with an often interesting premise to add that narrative flair to things. However, instead of actually doing it physically and outside, what if you could enjoy all of that in the comfort of your own home? That’s the allure of Coin Crew Games’ Escape Academy, and the authenticity of this puzzler makes for both a good and bad time.
As a new student that has just arrived at the titular Escape Academy, this is the premier destination for promising students to transform themselves into the ultimate Escapist. This means going through over a dozen rooms specially crafted by the devious minds behind actual escape rooms to test your skills, with the ultimate goal of earning 10 badges throughout the school year.
In between your escape attempts, a diverse cast of characters helps to flesh out the lore in this particular universe, although frankly speaking, there really isn’t a need for an overarching story. Players who are here are definitely looking for puzzles to solve, and while the additional flavor is always appreciated, it is not exactly a big selling point here.
However, once you step into one of the varying escape rooms, the true fun really begins. Much like what you would do in reality, getting a sense of things through the first-person perspective is always helpful at the start. Checking out suspicious objects and rummaging through containers to find hints and links are just some things that come naturally, and the trusted point-and-click mechanics are quite perfect for this kind of gameplay.
It doesn’t take too long for the rooms to grow in complexity and the puzzles to get more complicated. As players progress through Escape Academy, there is a gentle yet satisfying curve to mastering its systems and challenges, and it most certainly helps that you can take on all these tasks with a partner either through couch or online co-op.
Just like the real thing, when a team is able to bring different perspectives and skill sets to the table, it not only increases the fun you are having, but also gives you more of a chance of completing the room itself. Items can be shared and checked, solving puzzles that might require several passes suddenly become much easier, and it is always good to talk things through and see if something important was missed along the way. Whether you are a logical thinker or someone with a more creative slant, the manner in which Escape Academy captures this particular essence of the experience is what makes it a thoroughly enjoyable co-op romp.
That is not to say you cannot have fun if you are playing solo, but the presence of a co-op partner does elevate things to a certain extent. Then again, it all depends on how competent your partner is, and we all know how frustrating it can be if no progress is made even when more heads are put together. In such cases, the game also offers a hint system to help things along, that is if your ego can take that kind of bruising. Completing rooms quickly and without utilising said hints will also result in a higher score.
It is this chase for a better grade that will likely figure into the replayability of Escape Academy, but with the rooms themselves remaining the same, the loss of intrigue and surprise is close to a dealbreaker. Unless you are constantly switching partners to bring more people into the fold, the game might just be good for one fresh run at the most.
At the end of the day, Escape Academy achieves much of what it sets out to do. Giving players and whenever possible, their co-op partners, the authentic escape room experience, cutting away the frustrations of real-life escape attempts, and focusing our attention on finding connections and solving puzzles instead. There is much satisfaction to be had whenever a tough puzzle is cracked, and while the narrative is barely needed, the effort made to add more color to the world is much appreciated, creating an overall package that truly brings to life what escape rooms are all about.
Reviewer: Jake Su | Copy provided by Publisher.
- Co-op play is excellent.
- Rooms are well designed with a suitable level of challenge.
- Puzzles challenge both logical and creative thinking.
- Solo play is not as rewarding.
- Narrative prevents players from getting to the real action.
July 14, 2022
Coin Crew Games
iam8bit, Skybound Games
PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S