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Escape The Room

Author: Stephen Carlyle-Smith Machine Type: Spectrum 16K
Submitted on: 4th of January, 2020 Download or play online

Well, here we have the first game of the competition, and it’s a text adventure! I’ve never been much of a fan of text-based games – I get quite impatient when presented with moon-logic puzzles and unavoidable deaths, but text adventures are undeniably a large part of the Spectrum’s rich software tapestry, especially with classics like the Balrog series or the famous 1982 classic, The Hobbit. Let’s see if Stephen’s creation equals these games in quality. I trust it will; after all, he is a conscientious soul – he submitted this game early because he “didn't want to miss the deadline”. Ahem.

Escape the Room is distributed as a Pentagon snapshot; quite unusual considering that this game doesn’t use any features beyond those available on a 16K machine. We are greeted with a splash screen when we start, which contains the curious line, “Unofficially licenced product”. Is this a remake of a different game? Is this a computer version of those escape rooms that have surged in popularity? Either way, if it’s unofficial, we’d better keep this on the quiet.

Anyway, once the map has been generated, we are presented with a view of the room, rendered in beautiful, patent-pending “ASCII-vision”! Surprisingly, even though the graphical representation conveys the scene in exquisite detail, a key is provided, defining what each character represents (bonus points for not wrapping the text properly). Strangely, we are told that the room is pitch black. How do we know where we are then? How can we see the map? Well, that’s just a trifling matter anyway.

Now, we get to make a choice, as the game asks us to “ENTER A COMAND (sic)”. Now, I admit, I got stuck at this point. First, I tried “look door”, to be told that my way was blocked. I suppose I should’ve seen that coming, what with the room being pitch black. Handily, the game provides its responses in both textual format and with a change in border colour to signify which commands work and which don’t. It’s nice that Stephen has looked out for the partially sighted with this game.

However, we’re getting side-tracked here. Let’s try “unlock door”. My way is blocked. “Push door”? Nope. I’m desperate now. “Help”! Yes, a response!

Well, I am ashamed to say that it took me quite a while before I figured out that you need to type “open door” (I was overcomplicating the matter), although to be fair, the matter was not helped by the case-sensitive input handling. I won’t reveal the rest of the solution, so as not to spoil the game and its amazing conclusion, but I will say that it’s worth it for the amazing beeper soundtrack that accompanies the end sequence.

Overall, Escape the Room is a decent crap game to start the competition off with; nothing too inventive, but definitely a solid implementation of several classic crap traps. You can click on the link in the info-box above to download the game in both its original Pentagon snapshot form (as provided by Stephen) or a converted tape version to allow you to run this even on a lowly 16K machine.

Scores

Graphics Sound Gameplay Innovation TOTAL
24% 27% 30% 16% 24%