Title: Without Escape
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Bumpy Trail Games
Developer: Bumpy Trail Games
Genre: Point-and-Click, Adventure, Indie
Official Site: Without Escape
Release Date: January 15th, 2020
Version Tested: PlayStation 4
I love point-and-click adventure games. Grim Fandango Remastered was my favorite game of 2015, with more evolved titles in the genre such as The Wolf Among Us and the Zero Escape series being amongst some of my all-time favorite video games. So I was excited to get my hands on Without Escape, a horror-themed ode to ’90s point-and-click adventure from Bumpy Trail Games.
The game relies on the escape room trope, with your character being locked inside their house with nothing but a frozen lasagna (which is terrifying, if you ask me). After being awoken by an odd noise, it’s your job to discover the mysteries that begin to unfold. Without Escape plays out as a series of pre-rendered screens, with multiple exploration points and clues across each room. In typical point-and-click style, there’s a variety of puzzles to complete to progress throughout the story.
No Escaping the Simplicity
Part of the mystery I enjoy so much with point-and-clicks is not always knowing what an item’s use will be. Unfortunately, in Without Escape, the items are almost always immediately obvious to their use. Find a battery? That’ll be for the TV remote. Stumble across a key? The only puzzle here is discovering which door it unlocks. The few items that aren’t immediately obvious in their use are instead absurd. I won’t spoil it here, but the use of a particular sweater had me scratching my head more than the puzzle itself.
Controller input also hinders puzzle-solving. Certain clues were placed so closely together that I missed them multiple times. With the nature of controller sensitivity, I found myself gliding over the smaller hotspots as a result. Ultimately it didn’t prove to be a huge problem, and the game does offer a button input to slow down the cursor speed should you need it.
Story development feels limited in Without Escape. There’s no immediately obvious lore to tie everything together, and the game’s ending left me particularly underwhelmed. Everything feels incredibly disconnected, and I wish I’d been fed a few more nuggets of information to make better sense of the overall narrative. The story is also incredibly short. I completed my first playthrough in a mere one hour and 37 minutes, with an extra minute to reload and observe an alternative ending. While Without Escape has six endings to discover, I didn’t feel compelled to return.
A Gorgeous Environment to Explore
The stunning renders are the defining feature of Without Escape. While the house is relatively basic in design, each screen render looks borderline photorealistic. Once you reach the horror portions of the game, it becomes a genuinely terrifying environment. The optional film grain overlay was also a nice touch, helping the screens feel a little less static. There are a few short nostalgia-inducing FMVs sprinkled in, too. The accompanying music creates a chilling atmosphere and left me gripping my controller in fear multiple times. It’s just a shame that the game was so short I felt left with too little time to enjoy the soundtrack.
Verdict: I find it hard to recommend Without Escape when there are far better escape room-style adventure games on the market. If you’ve only got a few dollars to spare and want something mildly challenging, then Without Escape may keep you entertained. Sadly, you’ll likely be left wanting more.
- Stunning pre-rendered backgrounds
- Great atmospheric music
- Reasonably priced
- Lack of narrative direction
- Disappointingly short
- Puzzles are too simple