Rusty Lake just released its seventh episode of their Cube Escape series, Cube Escape:Birthday on 2/15/2016. If you are at all familiar with Rusty Lake’s past escape games then you know what you are in for. If not, prepare yourself for anthropomorphic, sharply dressed animals, blood, a few jumpscares, a Wes Anderson reminiscent setting, and a lot of unanswered questions.
First I want to get some warnings and critiques out of the way. If you are not into horror or games that don’t neatly spell out the plot, you likely want to look elsewhere. While the blood and jumpscares are minimal, they do exist and the story of the game leaves plenty of room for mystery and speculation. Personally, I love both these characteristics in games as long as they are well down and atmospheric which Cube Escape:Birthday does with style. While I enjoyed piecing together the plot, I could not say the same for the lack of any direction on the puzzles which are largely comprised of extreme leaps in logic. This is one of those escape games where a changing cursor to indicate objects that can be interacted with would have made a world of difference for me. Also, a few of the puzzles have very specific completion parameters. As a result, I ended up having to keep a walkthrough close at hand just to confirm that I was in fact trying to solve the puzzles correctly.
Rusty Lake’s characteristic charming but eerie style is what really make this game an escape game worth taking the time to explore. The faint music, minimal sound effects, and soft color palette beautifully contrast with the moments of quick, bright violence. There were very few moments where I didn’t feel oddly tense even in such a serene environment. My mind kept jumping to different terrible scenarios that could happen, but I never would have guessed what actually did. These delightful surprises happened with almost every scary moment. The horror elements were also never overdone or one note. Fans of gore and jumpscares as well as more quiet, looming horror will both find moments to enjoy. And while the puzzles weren’t a strong point for me in terms of gameplay, they were excellent at continuing the unsettling, surreal mood. Without giving anything away, my favorite puzzle was the birthday present. Completing it felt very satisfying and intuitive once I had the parts and what happened after its completion did not disappoint.
All in all, Cube Escape:Birthday is an engaging escape and a nice addition to the Cube Escape Series. If you like Rusty Lake’s past offerings or are just the type of escaper who enjoys a imaginative, surreal mood and setting, I would give Cube Escape:Birthday a try. It is currently free for download on iOs or Android and is also available as a flash game on Rusty Lake’s website: http://www.rustylake.com/room-escape-games/