I’ve been asked before, in real life, if I’d like to participate in one of those “escape the room” scenarios that are mega popular right around Halloween time. Or possibly other times too, but that’s when these scenarios can take the scaring to a whole new level. My gut response each and every time is to scream noooo and run away, arms flailing, never looking back. It’s not that I don’t think I have the brains to find my way out or even mind working cooperatively with friends (or strangers), but the idea of being closed in a small room with no immediate way out is enough to set me on edge…before I’m even in the room. Heck, I can barely handle waiting in that tight foyer on Disney World’s Haunted Mansion ride.
All that said, I have no problem playing digital versions of “escape the room,” and even seek these out now and then, as they often provide somewhat logical puzzles to figure out, which gets my brain muscles to flex for a bit. Can You Escape, which is one of the more lackluster attempts at a creative title about escaping a place, missing even enough energy to add a question mark at the end, is free to download from Microsoft for the PC or mobile devices. I grabbed it for my laptop, seeing as it now rocks Windows 10 and all that–plus, when it comes to pixel hunting, the bigger the screen the better.
Can You Escape takes place in a tall apartment building, which is purported to house a number of exceptional residents, with varying tastes and lifestyles. However, you won’t actually meet any of them per se, but you will get to explore their apartments and then escape them after you are done poking and prodding around. You begin in the lobby, but slowly ascend, with each room offering more and harder puzzles to solve before moving on to the next occupant’s home. I was under the assumption that you got fifteen levels to play here, which sounded like a fine enough deal for something that is free to download, but you only actually can play nine levels before you have to drop some cash. More on that in a bit.
To escape an apartment, you have to find the key that will open up the elevator–which defies logic and opens directly into each person’s place, acting as a front door anyone can step through–and to do that you’ll first have to solve a number of other puzzles that will eventually lead to the key or result in you creating a makeshift key. The number of puzzles and the difficulty level goes up every floor. There are clues all around, and you’ll do a lot of clicking, to and fro, gathering a small amount of items in your inventory to be used elsewhere or combined with another obtainable item. If you have a mediocre memory like me, you’ll also take pictures of clues with your cell phone. I do wish that some areas where you can click were made more obvious, as there was one apartment with a toy train and set of tracks on the floor that I didn’t know was clickable until I watched an online walkthrough after getting stuck. Also, a few items are difficult to decipher based on their picture only, so a description could have helped.
Can You Escape is fine. It’s not good, and it’s certainly not great. The puzzles do range from obvious to obtuse at times, but nothing will break your brain, and completing a puzzle about matching symbols do different heights still sends out satisfactory vibes through your body. Well, it does at least for my body. For a free download limned with the constant clutter of ads and that looping drum beat, it’s fine. I just wish they gave you all fifteen levels to play and locked other non-essential content behind a pay-wall. Here’s how the money breaks down for those stuck in the same boat that finished more than half of the levels and kind of actually want a little more:
- All-in Package – $1.99
- Bonus Levels 1 – $0.99
- Bonus Levels 2 – $0.99
- Remove Ads – $0.99
Yeah. It’s weird. I’m under the assumption that “Bonus Levels 1” gets you levels 10, 11, and 12, and that “Bonus Levels 2” will provide you with the remaining three–surprise, surprise, the game doesn’t really provide you many details. You could buy both those options together or simply get the “All-in Package” for seemingly the same price. Even still, I don’t think this is worth the money, especially after the developers give you nearly half the game for zero cents. A shame; plus it means that I won’t get to put Can You Escape on my completed list of games for 2016. Boo. I like finishing things.
A quick bit of research–in other words, Googling–shows that Can You Escape 2 is also available to play for free as well, but only to a point. There’s also a ton of in-app purchases for more levels and origamis (?). Hmm. I think I’ll steer clear from here onward, finding escapism elsewhere, where you get what you get, and you get out with what you got.