The Prodigious Escapee: Deluxe Edition
The Prodigious Escapee is another of the many games we see at Bytten which describes itself as a puzzle game, albeit, a puzzler with one of the best names I've ever seen. The general game mechanic plays very much like a typical Sokoban variant with the level aim being to escape to the exit by moving and destroying various objects.
Unfortunately for this new Deluxe Edition of Prodigious Escapee, the great name and level count are the best features of a game that feels like it has arrived 10 years too late. The main puzzle elements of moving boxes around, exploding bombs, firing shots and avoiding water and lava are all long-standing features of the genre which leaves you with a strong sense of deja vu.
To be a truly great puzzle game, you really need to have all of your bases covered. Play mechanics are obviously top of the list, with graphics and presentation a close second. Sadly, 'Escapee' stumbles on both of these points, with visuals particularly proving to be a major flaw. Moving around a level is simple enough, as is collecting an object for use later on. However, frustration sets in quickly when you try to use a collected object.
The developer has the right idea with objects; collect, store and use them when needed. The problem is that it is often difficult to work out what an object is thanks to poorly designed icons and a lack of in-game help. Worse than that, it is sometimes difficult to recognise what the obstacle is, thanks to similar graphical flaws.
A typical level in 'Escapee' might have you running around moving single boulders, using a detonator to detonate a bomb to destroy a group of boulders, collecting a rocket to fire through a launcher which needs to hit an angled mirror to destroy an unreachable boulder and more. All of this is certainly a challenge, but the fun is lost somewhere between concept and execution and I can't help but feel it was lost in a paint program.
As ever, I'm a reviewer who believes that audio plays a much lesser part in a puzzle game than most other gaming genres. Which is lucky as the quaint Midi tunes on offer here did very little to stimulate. Sounds effects were useful, but for the wrong reasons - they helped me identify what some of the objects were.
So, back to the good points stated earlier. The name will remain a favourite for some time as too few of the indie-developed games we see at Bytten offer a name this good. The high level count is definitely a plus - if you can get to grips with the visuals and enjoy a challenge then 80 levels plus the editor make for good value.
Whether you'd want to invest time in Prodigious Escapee: Deluxe Edition should really be decided by the 11-level trial but the price is very low so a purchase doesn't mean investing a lot of cash. If you do buy the game, you will be helping the developer to donate money to The Global Fund for Children charity.
And a special note to any developers reading this: if you want to make and sell a game (and support a charity!), you should really try and keep your website alive, your demo available and reply back to reviewers in a timely manner. This review is based on the trial demo as the website and developer disappeared for a week shortly after starting the review.
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