I’ve been in a bit of a gaming slump lately, so when you combine that with the fact that I’m trying out about a dozen games a month for the Just One Percent Project, I haven’t really made too much time for playing games just because I want to. In fact, I hadn’t expected to get around to Escape Academy (which was available on its release day on XBoX Game Pass for PC) for awhile.
Then, a few days ago, I decided to load it up and play a room or two. Before I knew it, I was about halfway through the game, so I decided to see just how long it would take me to play through to completion. The answer was just under 4 hours. I definitely had a blast playing through this one, and I’m guessing it’d also be pretty enjoyable co-op, but all the rooms have set solutions, so there’s absolutely zero replayability, which in my book, is a little skimpy for a $20 title.
The first few challenges are pretty simple to get through if you have any idea how escape rooms tend to work, and probably very doable within the time limits even if you don’t. After that, the difficulty does ramp up, and I found myself relying on hints a few times when I got stumped. The game is fairly generous with the hint system, and using it a couple of times during a challenge doesn’t even confer too much of a penalty to your solve rank.
Each room you complete in time gives you a report card, rating how well you did, and then a detailed breakdown of how you were expected to figure everything out. There’s no penalty for doing things out of the intended order (although frequently you need to solve one part of the puzzle to be able to access another). If you’re really bummed about how you scored, you can replay any completed area from the bulletin board in your dorm room to improve your time & reduce deductions for using hints, but as much as I like gold medals and high scores, for me that felt like it’d be a bit tedious, as the solutions to puzzles don’t change at all.
There is already a season pass available for purchase for $14.99, which promises to basically double the length of the game in two DLCs over the next year or so. If you don’t have Game Pass, and you’re not in a rush to play, it might be worthwhile to wait until all the content has released and try to grab the complete package on sale. As it stands now, the playtime is on the low side, and the challenge is fair, but puzzle aficionados aren’t likely to run up against failure, so I’m not 100% sure the value is appropriate to the price, but it’s a pretty decent game nonetheless.