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Escape Lala

Escape Lala


    The title screen.The title screen.
Developer: DuckbearLab
Released: 2019.02.15
Genre: Fantasy
Graphics: Pixel art / 2D
Perspective: First person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click









"You wake up inside a magical cave, full of mysteries. You remember nothing, but you know one thing for sure, you need to escape! Escape Lala.

Escape Lala is a point-and-click adventure game / Escape room with a nostalgic feel.

Escape Lala is not the regular Escape the Room game, it is full of charming handcrafted pixel-art graphics and animations. And it contains puzzles with magical twists that take inspiration from classic point-and-click adventure games."

The quoted text is the developer's description of the game, Escape Lala, and it's a perfect description. The game is basically one long escape room scenario, where the only goal that the invisible protagonist has to accomplish is to escape Lala. And for the record, the game never explains what "Lala" is, so there's room for imagination and interpretation right there. It is also totally unknown how the protagonist got there in the first place, and why there's any need to escape.

So as a narrative, Escape Lala doesn't work that well, although there are some things to grab ahold of so that each player can use to construct some kind of background story. There are things like a treasure room with skeletons, a ship inside an underground cave, some kind of stone beings that need the protagonist's help with an unvoiced fetch quest and so on.

A treasure room.A treasure room.
It's also puzzling (pun intended?) that the graphical presentation of the game seem to be a third person view, but as there is no sign of the protagonist, it plays like a first person game. Basically, a third person view without that third person, but probably can be just described as first person to make things easier.

There is certainly more depth, in every sense of the word as some puzzles even require underwater exploration, to this game than a pure escape room game would have. There is even an inventory puzzle, which is almost obvious to anyone who has played a number of traditional adventure games, but as that comes across without any warning, players with less experience and trying to play the game as a casual escape room scenario might be at least momentarily confused. Fortunately for them, and everyone else too, there is an in-game hint system. For that, the player needs to find hidden coins, which is more familiar from other genres, but not so much adventures. In the end of the game the player gets a score showing how many coins have been found, and used.

The puzzles are a bit on the challenging side. While some are almost obvious, some others require noticing patterns and realising how moving different objects in different locations are connected. The main thing in Boulder Dash... pardon, Escape Lala is to collect diamonds from the caves as part of the great escape. Those diamonds enable doing something somewhere which somehow makes escaping easier (no spoilers here!).

Strange caves.Strange caves.
In a sense, going back to caves is going as far back to adventure genre's roots as possibly can be. Colossal Cave Adventure is even considered to be one of the main reasons why certain kind of games are called "adventures". Seeing things from a perspective of over 40 years of adventure game evolution, a cave adventure is not necessarily that exciting anymore, but as an intentional homage to the genre's roots it still works.

The graphical presentation is also retro in every sense of the word. Pixel art looks like one would expect pixels to look like. Seeing things from a purist perspective, point-and-click was never used the way it is used here with the kind of graphics that is being used here. But that's OK, the game doesn't even try to be a purist old-school game, but simply taking inspiration from different past eras of adventure gaming. There is some music and some sound effects in the game, but nothing that would especially stand out, they simply fit quietly (heh!) in the game.

There is some replayability value in the game, if one doesn't find all coins during the first playthrough, and wants to explore that aspect. Other than that, the game is more or less a one time thing. Without any real story to tell, and with no super inspiring puzzles, it would take some special commitment to keep playing the game over and over in the long run. But the game was never (presumably) intended to be an "all time best" title that players keep going through endlessly, it provides its duration of nice relaxing puzzle solving, and that is a good value in itself.

Is the game good or not? In what it tries to be, the game works very well. So yes, it is indeed a good effort. On the other hand, it is easy to see how this game is not everyone's favourite thing. Some don't like retro graphics, some don't like untold stories, some who are looking for extremely casual games might find this game too challenging, and so on. But for almost any player who likes traditional adventure games, going back at least few decades, this one is a nice, small homage to all of that. But the one, big unanswered question about the game is trying to find out what "Lala" actually is...

The door is locked.The door is locked.



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