Escaping from SBKMan

Continuing the Renaissance of Girl Adventurer’s Casual Reviews, I combed the last few weeks of Weekday Escapes over at Apparently ole “Jay” is looking for writers, and yours truly was dang near ready to log into my Prodigy email account and send over an how-do-ya-do. Buuuut, perhaps let’s wait until I’ve had more than a few reviews spread over a four year period, ya?

SBKThis little gem caught my eye, and while the quick write-up in the original post didn’t make much sense of the SBK escape game, those commenting picked up on its charm. The cliché description would be “escape room inception,” yet, that is also the best description. The gameplay is what you would expect from escape games, but the twist in SBK was delightful. With each, let’s call it an iteration, I found myself smiling at the creator’s cheekiness. Well done.

SBKMan’s other games include: Cat Escape (猫の脱出)- which is adorable and features a cat that shoots invisible lasers (apparently); Charlotte’s Room and Charlotte’s Room 2 (I admit I got stuck on this one) which work as companions to Cat Escape (if not early proof of concept). Desk (机) is frustratingly adorable, yet the only thing you have to escape is your own messy surface. It was nice to discover SBKMan’s games and not suffer through the 400th version of Monkey Go Happy.

Hiddenverse: The Iron Tower

It’s been over three years since I prowled the grisly edges of this blog and after attaining a black belt in criticism, I have returned, ever ready to apply my honed perception upon the land of casual games.

“I should do this again,” I said, “it will be fun.”

Had my first casual game not been the Big Fish Games’s offering of “Hiddenverse: The Iron Tower,” I would have readily scheduled my way into a long series of game analysis and casual championing the like this corner of the webbar-verse has never seen!

Alas, “Hiddenverse” has nearly killed my will to game. I have been away from casual gaming for some time, but I had come to expect some challenge, perhaps even a heightened challenge due to my absence. Would I still be able to find those hidden objects? Would I be able to match three, let alone four or five? What, if anything, will I be able to do when I find the mighty crowbar? All of these worries left as I trudged through ten or so levels of object matching stuffed in between what appeared to be, in the tiny snippets that are allotted to the player, a much more interesting story.

Your task is to match pairs of objects. Robots, levers, tea cups, statues; a whole array of ephemera for your clicking pleasure. And as a casual gaming level, that is perfectly fine. However, the next level, and the next, and the next, all possess the same startlingly dull array of game play (match the pairs, match the trios, OH! MATCH THE PAIRS AND THE TRIOS) and the same startlingly dull array of objects.

I can’t read that many words. Pairs? Threes? The hell do you want me to do?*

This is the fundamental fault of this game: no variation of objects. I found myself enjoying (in relative terms) searching for the blue crystals to gain hints rather than matching pairs of decorative tchotchkes that would be more home on the walls of a Romanian T.G.I.Fridays. While I fully understand the self-imposed limitation of a low-risk casual game–one that will fall quietly into Big Fish Games’s calendar of past releases–I unfortunately chose “Hiddenverse” as my triumphant return into casual gaming reviews.

Here’s to better choices in the future.

Rating: Why??



The Empty Kingdom

The Empty Kingdom
Nothing out of the ordinary here…

Featured on a few days long ago, The Empty Kingdom is a subtle bit of narrative game play that, in light of the full story, is quite touching. I’m not giving too much away. The game is by Daniel Merlin Goobrey, who’s website features comics, hypercomics as well as some of his academic writing. I’m looking forward to delving deep into his site and looking forward to what he creates next.

Ancient Forest Escape

This is a short but beautiful escape game. Ancient Forest gives you subtle clues to find the four keys to unlock the magic gate. Similar to Esklavos’s Paper World series, the atmospheric background music and visuals hide the fact the game is so short. I’ve included a walkthrough below the picture if you need help, or, smartypants, try it on your own.

Ancient Forest is Ancient
Ancient Forest is Ancient

Ancient Forest Walkthrough:

  1. Go to the Right Screen and pick up the Stick and the Knife (click on the bag on the ground). The big, bad spider is preventing you from doing more. With the Knife, grab the Flower (bottom left).
  2. Go the Left Screen and read the inscription on the top right stone: “Flowers for the ghosts, roots for the dead, poison for the living beings… And burn!” Well, you’ve already got the Flower, so place it into the bowl.
  3. Cut the string on the left stone with your Knife and get the Cloth. Combine the Cloth and the Stick to get an unlit Torch.
  4. Go back to the Center Screen and click on the lamp to light your Torch 
  5. Now, scare that bad spider away in the Right Screen. Now you can access the rest of the items on this screen (but not the bag, it will just twitch when you click it, you can’t pick it up.)
  6. Grab the Shovel, the Urn and read the note on the pillar, it gives you a leafy pattern for a puzzle in the Center Screen, so let’s do it.
  7. In the Center Screen, click on the branches on the right corner and see the “pipe” puzzle. When rotating the angles, you will find that after one rotation, the branches will turn straight and then back to the angle again. Reproduce the pattern on the note and receive the White Key.
  8. Let’s head back to the Left Screen. Now, use your mighty Shovel and dig up that obviously pink mound of dirt. Congrats! Now you have a Root. Add it to the Bowl.
  9. All you need is the poison. One of those mushrooms is not like the other. Using your Knife, cut it loose and add it to the Bowl.
  10. Remember the inscription said “…And Burn!” Well, you’ve got a Torch, don’t you? Congrats! You’ve got the Yellow Key. But we’re not done here yet.
  11. Click on the Crystal in the middle of the circle of stones and read: “Deep in the crystal, a voice says: Look at me…” Well, someone needs attention, don’t they. Now that you have those handy, glowing symbols on the four stones, change each one to an Eye and, tada, the Red Key is now yours.
  12. But what about this Urn, you ask? Well, seems that the demons are on the loose. Have you been noticing those scary, glowing eyes watching you from the background? Click on them (one in each screen) and you’ll fill the urn. Put the urn back on the pillar in the Right Screen and you’ll earn (or urn) you the Blue Key.
  13. Now use your keys in the Center Screen and you’re out!

Candy Rooms No. 13 – Black Modern

Sometimes the Weekday Escape at pisses me off. Actually, it’s these damn Candy Room games that piss me off – and I KEEP PLAYING THEM. An easy way to spend ten minutes while putting off things that actually earn me money – brains are weird.

Here! All the candy is here! Why does this game not have a crowbar?
Here! All the candy is here! Why does this game not have a crowbar?

Another room, similarly set up with a new design layout. Think of an escape room game played on the set of Changing Rooms (not the terrible US remake that was Trading Spaces) and you’ll get an idea of what Candy Room’s about.

At first I thought, 'how does the pic on the left mean "8"', then I was all, 'oh..I have to figure it out.' Good one, Candy Room.
At first I thought, ‘how does the pic on the left mean “8”‘, then I was all, ‘oh..I have to figure it out.’ Good one, Candy Room.

That’s already two paragraphs dedicated to a flash game. Go play it if you must.