Summer Game Fest 2022 – Escape Academy is a Masterclass in Puzzle Gameplay

Escape Academy Preview

Escape rooms have seen a long-running, steady rise in popularity. Groups of friends headed out to solve elaborate mysteries as quickly as they could to see who is the smartest. Escape room games you could play at home became a great alternative when going out wasn’t an option. However, Escape Academy developed by Coin Crew Games took at-home escape rooms to the next level. They created a colorful, inspiring, and challenging experience with a charming narrative that I did not expect and was happy to play.

Published by iam8bit and Skybound Games, players take on the role of a freshman student who has just been accepted to the strange Escape Academy; a school for learning and training in the art of escape. Something akin to a Hogwarts for Houdinis, the game is a collection of increasingly strange and fantastic escape room puzzles wrapped up in a mystery. In an escape room, the players are given a brief narrative, and a goal, and told to solve it within a time frame. Taking the medium to video games means the opportunity to add other nuances only available digitally. Hints can appear on screen when needed at the press of a button. Lighting and changing aspects of the environment like power supplies can have huge effects. Other characters will talk to you and guide the story along as you solve each puzzle. It’s not a new concept to video games, but it’s a fresh take on the escape room formula. 

I will admit I had some hesitation playing it at first. I had self-doubt about my own ability to complete the challenges. Escape Academy presents itself in such an inviting and fun way that those worries quickly melted away. I found myself more and more engrossed in the rooms that lay ahead for me. It was tense but generous with the time given (although I did feel like I was running things down to the wire on a few rooms!) Most gamers have this innate need to explore every corner of a space, look at all the angles, and see what kind of dials and knobs they can turn. Escape Academy is exactly the kind of game that rewards that and indeed encourages it as you look for clues. 

Peculiar Puzzles with Satisfying Solutions

I struggled with the first room as I rather quickly had to orient myself with how to play – the room happened to be rapidly filling with water. I’m happy to say after a few minutes, I found my stride. The further I got into the level, the more I fell into the flow. My brain switched to puzzle-solving mode and the tension was gone – I was legitimately having a blast solving each step as quickly as I could. Solving that final puzzle to earn my freedom felt like a triumph that came too soon; I wanted to keep playing. I wanted to go to the next room, the next challenge. It was made all the sweeter that the solution I needed was the culmination of everything I had just done. Did I solve those puzzles because I was smart or was it panic? Could I remember what I learned? Of course I did, and I loved it. I went into Escape Academy doubting not the game but myself, and I walked away from it wishing I could keep going.

Escape Academy is an accessible and enjoyable escape room experience with a sense of humor. It wants you to succeed, it wants you to figure it out. Escape rooms don’t have to be all about horror and jump scares, and Escape Academy does a brilliant job of showing players how fun the genre can be for everyone.

Escape Academy is set for release on July 14th and will be available on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S For more information, check out the game’s official website, and for more from Summer Game Fest 2022 keep it locked on COGconnected.