Without Escape harkens back to first-person graphic adventures of the early ‘90s, which relied on pre-rendered backgrounds and full-motion video to tell interactive stories. Explore the confines of your own home as you flip between a mundane existence and a horrifying otherworld. Can you escape the nightmare and find the answers you’re looking for?
Without further ado, how one derives fun from a product tends to be highly subjective. Therefore ALL forms of review are opinionated and should be taken with a grain of salt (this included). So let’s review Without Escape through the lens of more objective metrics such as; graphical fidelity, characters & story, content & length, controls & gameplay, then finally, sound design & cinematics. This product was evaluated on a launch model Nintendo Switch using a provided copy of the game. I went into this experience fresh, never having played Without Escape on any other platform previously.
Those familiar with point-and-click adventures will know what to expect. For the uninitiated, the aesthetics of point-and-click games are usually comprised of detailed or stylized static images. Without Escape runs its standard resolutions, up to 1080p docked. Everything looks fine, even reasonably crisp one might say. There are no performance issues, which, why would there be? These types of games are usually quite easy to run. Settings are also minimalistic, though we really don’t need much outside of sound.
locales range from a neat and tidy little home to a far grimmer gore-laced, rusty underside. Silent Hill, or Stranger Things come to mind thematically. In the vein of horror (visually speaking) it gets the job done when you can take the time to appreciate it rather than obsess over each detail.
Characters & Story
As an unnamed and unseen protagonists players will investigate the eerily descending nightmare within their realm-shifting home. Tossed right into things, you are alone in your house with family 200 miles away when you hear a mysterious bump in the night. What could it be?
You’re tasked with uncovering the secrets of the spooky-house happenings. Honestly, the whole plot is short and sweet – as it should be for a title of this length. It doesn’t try too hard wasting time establishing unnecessary setup, it just abruptly starts. As sudden as this pacing is, it’s appropriate for a game of this calibre. My issues reside in the games ending. I won’t spoil it here, but it goes hilariously off the rails in a ‘Knowing’-esque way. It feels like I shouldn’t have been laughing at the end of this, yet I was. I almost thought this was an M. Night Shyamalan production. That’s worth something, right?
Content & Length
Now, Without Escape will take players between 45 minutes to 2 hours to beat depending on how witty you may be. But before you bail, the game is only $5/£4.49 and has multiple endings. Without spoiling anything, the game has 6 endings, although I don’t personally feel there was enough narrative draw to revisit this title further. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the content that I played, I just derive the most fun figuring these sorts of puzzle games out the first time around. Without Escape offers little reason aside from narrative drive and completionism to return and complete the other endings. There is no multiplayer element contained, not that there should be.
Controls & Gameplay
Once again the creative contributions of the Nintendo Switch are ignored, and the touch screen is wasted. What a shame. This would have been a perfect opportunity to use the touch screen for players to keenly spot items, but alas: we’re stuck with a fumbly-ass thumbstick. This feels like a lazy port and I’m quite unimpressed. Controls are: point somewhere and click A for interaction, nothing too fancy. The problem is that some of the clues or items are well hidden and players will need fine control to get them. This will cause players to miss things, not by fault of their own. You can hold Y to slow the cursor, but that’s just a bandaid fix. Players may also hold the L key to make the bottom text disappear for a fuller view, and the R key shows you your items. In the hallway players have a save point in the form of an interactable painting.
I feel deep in my gut, that, Without Escape was developed during the height of the ‘Escape Room’ craze. But, more like an escape house. Reminiscent of older graphic adventure puzzle games, fans of Myst, and Riven will feel right at home. Without Escape’s bread and butter is its puzzle mechanisms, and clever as they might seem, they’re awfully cheeky. While it’s often clear how items and clues intersect, the exact logical process players are required to decipher is… a stretch, in some cases. Without a guide, some players may well get frustrated and give up. The game does put players’ thoughts in a subtitle at the bottom of the screen that gives very vague hints, but nothing substantial. Most of the time, you’re on your own.
Sound Design & Cinematics
In regards to audio work, there’s mostly just music. Tonally it’s fitting, and quite eerie. Depending on when in the game, players may turn the audio down due to higher pitches, but generally, it all works. I chuckled hearing a Terminator-ish boom-boom boom boom-boom. You’ll know the one. There are occasional sounds in-game and one puzzle that even requires it, but it’s nothing outstanding.
There are a few cinematics within Without Escape, while not overly impressive they do offer players a visual change of pace. In 2020/2021, they’re okay, but not really up to modern standards. A little bit of touching up could have gone a long way here, as it’s somewhat jarring getting pulled from these crisp images into some of these.
When all is said and done, Without Escape is… okay at best. Maybe I have a cognitive bias against these types of games, but even with that said It’s merely… alright. This is a game that (knowing what I’m getting) would be suited best for mobile, or purchased on steam at a discount. Without Escape has some value and there’s some fun to be had here, but It just didn’t impress me it gets a 4.4/10.
The above trailer is PS4, as there is not official Nintendo Trailer.
What did you think of Without Escape? Let us know in the comments, and if you enjoyed this content, why not check out our Cyberpunk 2077 Xbox One Review, or Hyper Light Drifter Special Collectors Edition Review.
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Was it Good? Was it Bad? It Was Okay
- Score - 4.4/104.4/10
+ Some Nicely Presented Visuals
+ Decent Audio
– Frustrating Puzzles
– Weak Story