Point and click adventures aren’t exactly in short supply these days, but the latest of its kind to arrive on Xbox One hopes to bring some horror into your experience for a change. Without Escape: Console Edition is here and it’s a game you may have encountered during its spell as an Xbox 360 indie title a fair few years ago or the recent PC release. Without Escape has been given a bit of a polish to ensure you’ll get to play the best possible version on console, but does this point and clicker deliver plenty of scares alongside some intriguing puzzles in order to create an enjoyable game?
Well, if it’s the horror aspect you’re after, then you’ll be sorely disappointed by Without Escape: Console Edition as I’ve seen more frightening things in a SpongeBob SquarePants game. Unfortunately, that’s not the only drawback either.
Without Escape sets the scene when a young protagonist returns home to find their parents are staying elsewhere for the night. At first it seems to be an ordinary evening home alone, but during the middle of the night – 2.45am to be exact – a strange noise awakens this person. Is it a burglar? Could it perhaps be something even more sinister? Whatever it is, they’re determined to get to the bottom of it and so the investigation begins throughout this typical looking, rather normal American household.
As a first-person point and click game, the idea is to interact with the objects and furniture in each room to gain useful items for your inventory. Initially you’ll have a rummage through the bedroom belonging to the parents, before wandering to the hall and realising that most of the other rooms appear to be locked. To gain access, you’ll need to obtain a variety of keys that are hidden around the house. This brings about the first annoyance in the approach required upon obtaining a key, because although finding a key is relatively straightforward, you have to try clicking on every lockable door to see if it’s the right one; there’s no other way to know.
In terms of other, non-inventory based puzzles, there aren’t too many variations to speak of, however those present can be a tad complex in both a good and bad sense. On one hand, there’s a difficult problem involving a code needed for a box, which can be figured out by taking in information found elsewhere and making the connection between the two. But then there’s another where you’ll have to be well versed on the periodic table to work out the solution. Most people will probably have to use a popular search engine here and I feel as though that will take away the immersion.
What doesn’t help matters is the fact that the horror elements are severely lacking, with half the game only featuring a splatter of blood on a wall and nothing else that’d be considered scary in the slightest. And whilst the latter half transforms the house into a more gruesome environment to search, it’s not exactly horrific – and that’s coming from someone who’s easily spooked. The emptiness of the place is a tad unsettling, but don’t expect to be overcome with fear at any stage. Not even the soundtrack can say it does the horror genre any justice, which is a real shame.
And it doesn’t get any better in regards the narrative either. Aside from the aforementioned opening, there’s seldom anything noteworthy until the anti-climatic moments later on which can lead to a somewhat nonsensical ending. For those who enjoy replaying games though, there are multiple endings to discover for this adventure, which essentially lasts just over an hour in total for an initial playthrough.
Visually, everything is of a decent standard albeit a bit bland, with the house appearing quite generic during the static scenes. Sure, once the transformation begins it becomes more interesting, but having a grim and almost gothic look to the environments still isn’t a game-changer of any sort. Some folks will at least appreciate the little Easter eggs, as one especially is a cool throwback to gaming in the ‘90s.
Overall, and despite coming with a low price tag, Without Escape: Console Edition doesn’t have a lot going for it. The shortness can be excused, but the bizarre story fails to make much sense and certainly won’t convince you to replay it again. Whilst the puzzles are mainly comprised of finding keys, there are a couple of clever problems to overcome; on the whole they are hit and miss though. It’s also really strange to see it billed as a horror, because there are a ton of games that are scarier and creepier.
Unfortunately, Without Escape: Console Edition on Xbox One fails to deliver a worthwhile experience for either keen point and clickers or horror enthusiasts. The only people who’d probably be happy to pay a few quid are Achievement hunters, due to the relatively easy 1000 Gamerscore. Everyone else should steer clear.