—full moon mania—
I am not usually a fan of horror games, but I found myself captivated by this one in a very gruesome, werewolf kind of way. To add to that, the majority of these types of games-room escape games-put the focus on trying to get out of a place, so trying to do the opposite of that comes as an unexpected and refreshing twist. In Don’t Escape, a free-to-play online puzzle solving RPG, you assume the role of a bloodthirsty werewolf, who must find the strength to not devour a whole village. Sounds tough. I wonder if Lupin would have had the strength. The game was written by Newgrounds user Scriptwelder and was submitted to Armor Games in 2013, but this is definitely the sort of game that can stand the test of time.
Don’t Escape kicks off with a warning about the very nature of who you are-a werewolf governed by the uncontrollable animal instinct of ripping everything to shreds. You are a werewolf, but you are a werewolf with a conscience, because judging by the message in your journal, you don’t want to be a monster responsible for massacres of innocent people. From then on, gameplay becomes a first person point-and-click style think-a-thon where you have to search for and use objects in your environment that will stop you from breaking out of the house when it’s a full moon. The setting of Don’t Escape is a dark and sombre house that is drowned in shadows-the perfect setting for a horror/supernatural game. Half the fun of the game lies in searching the rooms of the house for different objects, and using them to create barricades for escape prevention. Most objects are in plain sight, but few (essential) objects are hidden rather well, which can be frustrating on an initial playthrough, but this is a huge aspect of the game’s replayability. The other aspect that makes Don’t Escape interesting is seeing how the consequences of your actions play out at the end of the game, which you can trigger at any point by clicking on the hourglass in the top left corner of the screen.
Each room presents a different challenge, which can involve locking the door, lighting a fireplace, or finding a distraction that will delay you as much as possible when dusk comes. You move the cursor around the page, which is usually coloured white at its resting state, but turns grey when you’ve found an item you can equip or enter an area. This (colour change) mechanic is slightly different from other point-and-click titles, but considering the overall dim lighting of the environments, I think it is very effective. To access different objects you’ve accumulated, you move the cursor up towards the top of the screen and they fall down like a pictorial drop-down menu, which disappears when you lower the cursor and return to your item exploration adventure. It’s easy to miss a particular combination of items, which is why you have to think exactly like a werewolf would in this game, and show yourself no mercy-that is, if you choose to follow the game’s suggested route and tie yourself up so you don’t escape.
The artwork of Don’t Escape is comprised of pixel art, something that gives the game a charm of a retro style game. It’s simple, and you only navigate over a series of a few screens all up, but each picture has a good level of detail and manages to intrigue you in some way. My two favourite things about the visuals were the fireplace, which was the only animated object in the game and was accompanied by a realistic crackling sound, and the thin, fuzzy veil that covered the screen and made it look like the werewolf’s vision was slightly blurred. That combined with the creepy, ambient soundtrack gave Don’t Escape a really well thought out and effective background for a horror or supernatural game-even without the story itself.
On every playthrough of Don’t Escape, I always found myself nervously anticipating the completion of the transformation. This for me worked like an assessment of my efforts, and it was fun to read the descriptions of what the werewolf had done in order to break out of the traps and chains I had set for it. The werewolf begins with 100% stamina which takes a beating based on each obstruction you’ve prepared. If you don’t prepare enough obstacles for the werewolf to get through, he escapes and wreaks havoc on the village, which can vary from a bloodbath, to a frightful night, to a night of terror. It’s completely up to the player when they choose to end the game, and that simultaneously invites you to try out a variety of different tactics during gameplay and makes you curious to see what each and every possible ending will say-true in my case.
Why you should play it:
- You love the idea of room escape games
- You are fond of point-and-click style games
- You like werewolves
- Easy to understand
- Intuitive controls
- Innovative twist on popular ‘room escape’ theme
- Great replayability
- Has walkthrough available if you’re stuck
- Not finding an item/forgetting an item can be frustrating
- Some items are hidden very obscurely
UPDATE: Don’t Escape 2 is the sequel to Don’t Escape and was released in late January this year. It is excellent and I definitely recommend it if you liked the first one.
For a quick demonstration of Don’t Escape’s gameplay, check out the armorgames video walkthrough below: