Without Escape

I really, truly don’t get the appeal in point and click games.  I’ve seen my father, a fairly jovial individual if there ever was one, lose his shit and degenerate into a snarling, swearing madman whenever he can’t find his car keys.  Somehow, the old man always misplaces them and it drives him crazy.  Point and Clickers are the video game version of “where the fuck are my keys?”  A scavenger hunt where you go from room to room looking for trinket A that goes into hole B based on the always batshit insane logic of the developer.

Without Escape cranks the nutbar meter up all the way to raving lunatic with some of its logic.  You play as a dude who wakes up in his house and everyone is gone.  It tries to present itself like one of those “escape the room” games, but it fails.  It feels like any other Plicker game, right down to the stupid “pick up the items and use them in ways you would never actually use them” idea.  I’ll give you some examples.  In one scene, there’s something shiny in a toilet, but the dude refuses to put his hand in it.  Right, because when you’re in a situation where you’re alone and terrified, you’re really worried about getting a little shit on your hands.  If I’m in the dude’s situation, shit is already in my pants by this point and probably trickling down my legs, so what does it matter?

What's the number for Ghost Busters again?

But no, Mr. Prissy wants to avoid the poop in the toilet in his own bathroom (which means it’s probably his own) and needs something to reach down and get it.  Now despite being in his house, with all his belongings, he has no idea where anything he could use to get this is.  Off the top of my head, I could rattle of multiple things I could use to fish a key out of a toilet.  Right next to the bathroom is his closet, which I’m guessing has a coat hanger in it.  Just bend the coat hanger into a fishing hook and not only do you have a way to retrieve the key, but you also have an emergency abortion kit if the need ever arises.

Oh wait, the closet door is locked.  And we’re also too much of a sissy to kick the door open.  Or any door, for that matter.  Why does nobody ever kick open doors in these games?  They search around for a key that they need to accomplish some important task when their foot and the laws of physics are right there the whole fucking time!  Hell, if someone really is fucking with you, kicking doors open might be a good way to show them who the boss is.  But no, he doesn’t want to hire someone out to fix the door, so he searches around for something he can use.  And what does he find?  A sweater.  No really, that’s what you use.  He wraps his arm in a sweater to grab the key.  The character even notes that it doesn’t work all that well.  Mind you, there’s a shower curtain right fucking there next to fucking toilet!  Shower curtains being things that repel water.  I’ve worn sweaters and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I promise you, they do everything BUT repel water.

I can’t really complain all that much, because this happens in every point and click game.  I can complain about the graphics.  The screen is too dark and you can’t adjust the settings for it.  In some rooms, the back walls are nearly completely enveloped in darkness.  After much complaining from Brian, I finally relented and adjusted the brightness on my television.  It didn’t help.  Stuff was still not viewable.  Stuff that apparently should have been.  I clicked in the darkness and my dude described a painting to me that I couldn’t see. It’s really annoying.

The ending is fucking abysmal too.  The game sets itself up as a psychological breakdown, but ends up going a bizarre Sci-Fi route involving the destruction the entire universe and you being handpicked to build the next one.  It makes no sense at all why they would choose to fuck with you the way they have.  Whatever.  The story sucks, but the game doesn’t really suck any more or any less than the average point and clicker.  If you’re into this type of thing, you’ll probably enjoy this.  If you’re like me and think they’re fucking stupid, it won’t change your mind.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hide my father’s car keys again.

Without Escape was developed by MaikelChan

80 Microsoft Points inch closer towards their inheritance, one “misplaced” set of car keys at a time in the making of this review.

See those buttons below that allow you share this review with the world?  If you enjoy my stuff, do me a favor and use them. 


Week #2 of Kairi’s Katch-Up Thursdays (it’s still Thursday on Venus!) and the winner by a landslide was the Decay series of point-and-click games.  I know I said the popular vote count would not necessarily factor into my final selection, but when 8 out of 10 votes were for it, you kind of have to go with it.  By the way, that wasn’t a hypothetical ratio.  There are only ten people voting in this thing.  One voter will win 1600 Microsoft Points on April 5.  And some of the voters have asked to not be included in the drawing.  Sigh.  This will probably be my last contest.  Don’t make me break out the sad puppy-dog eyes at you people.

Oh that’s it.  That is it!  I hate that it’s come to this.  This will hurt me a lot more than it hurts you.  Behold the power of the sad puppy dog eyes.

Are you guys going to participate and vote more?  Good.  Don’t make me do that again.

Now then, for those of you that are not curling up in the fetal position and sobbing to yourself right now, here’s the Decay review.  You know, point & clickers are the one retro genre that I can’t figure out why anyone is interested in anymore.  2D platformers can still be fun.  Old-school sports games are usually fast paced.  Classic arcade-style drivers are typically fun for at least an hour.  Even moldy old school street brawlers can work when you dress them up and slightly modernize them like Castle Crashers did.  But point & clickers?  They only existed because you couldn’t do free-roaming 3D environments in the 80s through the early 90s.  Once technology caught up to the ambitions of adventure game developers, the genre’s time for extinction had arrived.

Of course, Xbox Live Indie Games is a virtual Jurassic Park full of fossils that should have died out long ago.  I suppose that makes the Decay series the velociraptors of the market: hunting in packs, more trouble than their worth, and at the end of the day it’s still just a dinosaur.

Yea, that was pretty much the worst analogy ever.

Decay has no shortage of spooky images. Plot, on the other hand..

Decay is split into four parts.  Part one will run you $1 and will last you between fifteen and twenty-five minutes, depending on how much fucking about you do.  It sets the mood for this story about.. um.. you know, I played all four games and I could barely grasp what the whole thing was about.  Apparently a family of three have gone missing, or perhaps the wife got sick and died, or some serial killer got them, or fuck I have a headache.  There’s just too many red herrings to keep up with.

Decay is one of those minimalist-story type of deals.  This is a problem, because Koint & Knickers typically have to have a strong story to make up for the complete and total lack of gameplay.  You’re not really fed enough narrative in Decay.  At first, that was okay, because the open-ended questions left me genuinely intrigued.  Is the dude in purgatory?  Hell?  Is he reliving an event, or dreaming of a future one?  Sadly, as the story progressed, the actual answers were nowhere near as interesting as the suspense they invoked.

Decay still managed to be pretty creepy through-out, but by the end of parts two and three, my interest in the outcome had been significantly stilted.  By time Part 4 came around, I was downright bored.  The story sucks, plain and simple.  And then it ends with a ridiculous Sophie’s Choice moment which guaranteed the presence of alternate endings.  I hate it when games do this.  Games are not movies.  They take a significant time investment.  An alternate ending in a movie is easy.  Go to the DVD menu, select the ending, watch it.  Done.  In a game, you have to replay the entire fucking thing from the beginning and hope you don’t make any mistakes that would lead you into the same ending.  Now granted, in Decay you only have to start over from Part 4, but that’s still another hour or so you’ll have to invest doing the same puzzles you just solved.  And for what?  I checked on Youtube and all the endings were fucking lame as hell.  And that’s partially because you don’t know enough about the characters to give two shits about them.

So the story was a bust for me.  The gameplay did slightly better.  It really is just typical Boink & Flick stuff, so don’t expect too many surprises.  Well, besides a really horrible brick-breaker minigame in Part 2 with terrible physics and horrible play-control.  Oh, and a dexterity tester in Part 4 that was completely out-of-place.  The guys at Shinning Gate should have stuck to the logic and word puzzles, because those worked and were fun to solve.  Whenever you actually needed to do something in real-time, the game handled like a Ford Bronco driven by a drunken warthog.

I have no clue what they were thinking when they included this awful shit.

Despite occasionally enjoying the puzzles, I really didn’t care for Decay at all.  The story was boring, the setting was uninteresting, and it actually got progressively less spooky as things went on.  But the biggest problem is the price.  Combined, the game will run you 800 Microsoft Points.  That’s $10 for a series that will take you two-and-a-half hours tops to finish.  It’s a terrible value.  If you go to Target, they have an entire rack of PC Moink & Slick games that they often have 2 for 1 or sometimes even 3 for 1 sales on.  Even if you pay the full $10 asking price on them, they’re typically better games with actual storylines, and they come on the platform the genre is suited for.  Really, why would anyone want a Point & Click adventure on Xbox 360?  It would be like buying yacht and entering it into the Kentucky Derby.

Decay was developed by Shinning Gate Studio

80 Microsoft Points (Part 1) and 240 Microsoft Points (Part 2 – 4) apiece anxiously await hearing Toink & Wick fans bitch about how I’m too young to understand the genre in the making of this review.

Remember the puppy?  Good.  Now vote for next week’s Katch-Up game.  Maybe I’ll even post it on Thursday, like I’m supposed to.  Voting enters you into a drawing to win 1600 Microsoft Points.  Don’t make me post it again!  Head over to list, pick one, and vote on Twitter

Thanks to Michael Wilson for the banner.

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