Work together or alone to escape this unique puzzle game with an exciting concept; This is what I saw when I was able to check out a hands-off demo of Coin Grew Games’ new game, Escape Academy. The uniqueness of the title is exciting in of itself, but what’s more impressive is how Coin Grew Games uses the concept for more than just being refreshing. That’s without even mentioning the different ways you can play it with your friends or family members too.
From the fact that no two puzzles repeat themselves at all throughout the entire game to the stylish graphics, and the emphasis on co-operative or competitive multiplayer, Escape Academy looks to be something special. While the tense gameplay might deter some players, the game’s accessibility options should be taken into consideration if players are worried about getting frustrated. With all this in mind, players should keep an eye on this indie title, and prepare to escape.
Those who are familiar with escape rooms should know right away that this game is their jam, so much so that the developers even took inspiration from real-life escape rooms in Los Angeles. They still made sure to differentiate from those examples though. As I mentioned earlier, each room will be different from the last, and players will get a report card each time they finish a level.
Thankfully, novice players shouldn’t get discouraged because the developers put in two features; hints and no boot outs after the timer runs out in a level. This will incentivize multiple playthroughs for most people, which is a great choice for an indie game, and something that will allow the game to be played for a lot longer than most AAA titles.
In terms of the release details for Escape Academy, the game is launching in English, French, German, and Spanish. Plus, the game has photosensitivity and colour blindness modes. It’s great to see this kind of approach towards inclusiveness, and it’s another reason why Escape Academy is looking promising from what they are showing off so far.
“Escape Academy looks to be something special.”
Unfortunately, there are no plans to bring it to the Nintendo Switch at this point, which, to be honest, seems like a strange choice considering the large install base of the system and the fact that most Nintendo systems bring a wide range of players. Hopefully, Coin Grew Games will realize this and port the game over so more people can experience it.
The developers have focused on players getting better the more you play, and from what I’ve seen, the game can be quite challenging. Especially in one of the rooms shown during the 30-minute demo that I saw, the player was in a classroom with water consistently rising from all sides, so he had to manage multiple tasks at once while also communicating with the team all at the same time. This is all par for the course for escape rooms, but when it comes to video games, Escape Academy just screams co-op, and it seems like Coin Grew Games wants to emphasize that as well.
As for how the game plays, it’s in the first person, and players will be picking up and inspecting items a lot to get a better understanding of the world. As is the theme of Escape Academy, players will have to get used to picking up lots of items to decide how to use them in each level.
When interacting with something, the camera zooms in to whatever you’re doing to help you focus on it. When you do find something, a big exciting celebration noise plays to let you know you’ve done something right.
Information is told through pop-ups each time a player picks up something, so hopefully, this will be kept to the minimum if you’re going to be picking up lots of the same kinds of items. A trope of RPG games appears in this one too, where each time you select something, the game asks you if you would like to interact with it or not. This isn’t a big deal, but it’s still a nice little detail.
Escape Academy is also really quiet. You really only hear a few sounds, such as a grandfather clock, or the item interaction sound. It helps prevent the game from overwhelming the player, allowing them to focus on the tasks at hand.
All of this, combined with the stylish graphics and easy to handle first-person perspective, helps Escape Academy have a relaxing feel to it despite the tense predicament it places the player in. It looks like it plays without much stuttering and interacting with everything in the game looks to be quick and snappy, a great thing considering how much you’re going to be doing it in the game.
As I said earlier, there is voice acting with subtitles, but the voices only say a few sounds at most. Usually just a laugh or a grunt, the reading is up to you. Thankfully, it looks to be well written enough to not get boring or tedious.
This and all the other points I’ve mentioned really show that Coin Grew Games have taken the time to focus on the areas most important to a game like this, quite well in fact. While the lack of single-player content is a little worrying, the ease with which the player traverses the world, and the characters and their art make Escape Academy look like a blast.
So, the elephant in the room, is Escape Academy’s strength and uniqueness enough to warrant a purchase when it launches on day one on Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC? If you have friends or family members that enjoy video games, or just want to have a good time, then yes, absolutely.
One thing I haven’t mentioned specifically though is the fact that you can play it online. This is a big deal considering that most people prefer to play their games online instead of in couch multiplayer. The two-player co-op aspect is really exciting and should lead to lots of unique gameplay moments among teammates.
Escape Academy is looking very promising and should bring friends and rivals together in lots of tense escape room situations when it launches on June 28. Prepare to escape!