Escape Simulator is a game for people who love escape rooms. It is also, just as the name suggests, a sandbox for escape room creation and exploration. There is no overarching story, but there are sets of individual rooms that are all connected in a sequence. While not perfect, Escape Simulator is a game that you can play for a long time and always come back for more.
Before you even start playing, you are given the option to customize your character. There isn’t a huge number of options for this, but there is enough variety to make your avatar look unique. You don’t get to see the person you create much, but it is pretty fun to watch them dance in victory when you complete a room, and it adds a personal touch to the whole experience.
When you get to the game itself, the escape scenarios are mostly confined to one room at a time. Once you complete a room, you move on to the next one in that particular set. For example, the first location after the tutorial is a series of rooms in an ancient Egyptian ruin. You move from room to room before finally getting to the roof.
Like real-life escape rooms, this game relies a lot on exploration and puzzle-solving. You have to look around to find the items and clues you need to solve all the puzzles. In addition to the main puzzles that you need to solve, there are also tokens that you can track down. There are usually about eight in each room, and they are often very well-hidden to the point of being kind of aggravating to locate. About half of them in each room required an online guide to find. This caused it to take multiple attempts to fully complete each room which requires collecting all of the tokens and getting the trophy for making it out within the time limit.
In Escape Simulator, you can pick up and move almost anything, which can be both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that it makes the environment feel more immersive and interactive. However, it can also really clog up your inventory, since you can put everything you pick up goes there. You can also create piles of items on the floor that are difficult to sort through if you accidentally drop something that you actually need.
To help combat this, the game does add a key symbol by the names of items that are necessary to complete the room. This was very useful and did makes things feel a little less chaotic, but it’s not a perfect system. At one point, there was a scroll that held a key in it. The scroll was closed and you could not see the key from the outside at all.
The scroll was not marked with a key symbol, so I decided to ignore it. I ended up needing a hint to tell me to open it, which was annoying. This is not a one-time issue either, since there are several times when a key item is contained in a non-key object.
In addition, the inventory system and the controls for examining individual items items doesn’t feel natural. You can rebind the controls in this game, but that can only help so much when the process itself feels clunky. Movement can also be a little off at times, especially since you can only look at two levels of height: standing and crouching. It can be difficult to read or look at items when they are at a level that’s between those two, and there’s no way to easily zoom in without getting physically closer. For a game that’s reliant on looking around, it’s not always that easy to do just that.
With all that being said, however, the sets of rooms themselves are often quite enjoyable to complete. The puzzles are fairly diverse and interesting, with each themed set focusing on different problems that you need to solve. For example, in the space levels, you are trying to get enough of the spaceship working again after a catastrophic failure to get out.
Because each section has a different focus and style, certain sets like the Egypt rooms and the mansion rooms stand out as more fun and interesting to me than others. This also means that the game is more appealing to a wider variety of people; if you don’t really like one set of rooms, you can just move on to another.
In fact, there is a huge variety of rooms available if you are willing to look beyond what the base game offers you. There are a multitude of community rooms for Escape Simulator on the Steam Workshop that you can check out for no extra cost! There are even curated lists of these rooms on the workshop menu in-game if you don’t want to look through the thousands for yourself. And, if you are feeling inspired, you can even try to make your own Escape Simulator room!
Escape room elements
Quite a lot of Escape Simulator mirrors real-life escape rooms, most particularly the investigation aspect. Being able to pick up so many items really does lend a sense of reality, as there are many escape rooms I’ve been in where I’ve had to examine a lot of things in the same way. However, there is less a sense of discovery than in some real escape rooms.
In most escape rooms I’ve done, you actually end up going into more than one room. There is quite often an “a-ha” moment where you open a secret door or figure out the mechanism to move forward. There really isn’t much of that in this game, since each room is a separate level. Even though there are sets of rooms, you never take one thing from one area to help you in another.
I wouldn’t say this is inherently a bad thing, however. Keeping everything to a more limited space means there is more of a focus on the puzzles and investigation within that space. In addition, Escape Simulator succeeds in still having a sense of exploration even if you aren’t physically moving that far by allowing you to examine so many different items within each room. It’s a limitation that the game works with very well.
The puzzles in Escape Simulator also remind me of puzzles you would expect to find in an escape room, with them putting various skills to the test. Some focus on math, others on shapes, and others on colors. Still more puzzles focus on finding the correct item and putting it in the correct location, and there are even more beyond that.
Because it is a video game, there are puzzles that go beyond what you can do in real life. For example, I would never expect to melt gold or synthesize crystals in a real escape room, but it’s something that you can do in a virtual space. I personally think it’s great when escape room-esque games do exactly this, since it makes it much more exciting and allows a wider variety of puzzle options!
Like real escape rooms, Escape Simulator also has a timer in each room. However, if that timer runs out, you don’t actually fail the room. Completing it within the time limit rewards you with a trophy, but you are allowed to complete the room no matter what. I think that this is a good system because it makes the game more accessible and adds a challenge by choice option. You can choose to try and always get it done within the time limit but you are never forced to.
There are also hints available to you if you need them. You are allowed unlimited hints, but there is a cool-down period between asking for one hint and requesting another. The hints themselves are usually a vague drawing that lets you know what to do next without giving away the entire puzzle, but they get more specific as you ask for more help on a puzzle.
I have mixed feelings on this hint system as a whole. I like that it encourages you to solve the puzzles yourself by having the cool-down and starting vague, but it can get a little annoying. When I was playing, at one point I needed help. The first hint I got told me where to find an item that I had already collected, so I was still stuck and had to wait for the cool-down to run out. The next time I pressed the hint button, it showed me where to find another item that I had already collected, and so I had to wait again before I could finally get a hint that actually helped me progress.
At the Escape Effect, you won’t have problems with hints because there is a real person watching the game. This person knows exactly where you are on each puzzle and can provide more direct assistance for what you need to do. In Escape Simulator, the game only knew which specific puzzle I needed to do next, so it just gave me the hints for that puzzle, without taking into account that I was already part of the way through it.
Escape Simulator is a good escape room game. Like a lot of other games with “simulator” in the title, the controls can be a little weird and it has its idiosyncrasies, but overall it does deliver on what it promises. It’s genuinely just fun most of the time, and the wide variety of options for what to play means there is always something new to explore.
I know that I haven’t even touched everything that this game has to offer. After all, I’ve never even tried making a great escape room of my own or explored any of the rooms you can find in the workshop, and there are thousands of those! Escape Simulator offers a lot, and I’m excited to keep coming back for more.
If you want to play Escape Simulator yourself, you can buy it on Steam or on the Humble store. For more escape room-themed fun, you can also take a look at Escape Academy or some of the other games we’ve played.