Price: £30.99 (Soundtrack £3.99)
Where To Get It: Steam
The game has the following CWs: Mentions of suicide, sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, parental abuse, and human experimentation.
Hrm. Hrm, and other thoughtful noises.
Abyss of the Escape is a visual novel/escape room game, in which five girls are trapped, seemingly alone, in the ruins of FOUNDATION, an underground home for humanity after the surface basically got fucked. And shit’s not going well for them, not helped by certain things along the way, and the secrets and traumas each person has. It’s interesting, dark stuff.
It’s such a shame then, that it’s timeline implementation is awkward, and many of its puzzles are obtuse, some downright frustrating in their lack of information. I had to rely on hints for a fair few puzzles, and a few, in particular, I would not have found the solutions to without either pixel hunting, or looking the solution up. All I will say about that, if you play it, is that two numbers you haven’t lit up are hidden inside another, single digit number. It must also be said that some of the puzzles feel out of place for the situation.
Huh, big barrier in the garbage room? What purpose did that serve, except to arbitrarily separate the two characters involved for a dual viewpoint puzzle? Making tea? Good Doctor, I understand that you don’t want to let your daughter near your best tea, but an entire puzzle about tea making is only going to interest the tea fanatics. Who will then get turned off by the puzzle lock on the crucial ingredient. Although the last puzzle of that scene did fit the character of the Doctor.
And these two faults kind of taint the whole experience, which is a shame, because there’s some legitimately good writing in there, including the main twist. The rather heavily foreshadowed main twist.
Aesthetically, it works. Clear UX, some good illustrations, solid music, some good VA, and overall, as noted, good writing, because a good twist is foreshadowed, but even heavy foreshadowing works if it doesn’t quite make sense until the twist.
But yes, the awkward implementation of the timeline, some obtuse and sometimes arbitrary puzzles, they bring the game from legitimately good and interesting, to a cautious recommendation with heavy qualifications.
Timelines, VN devs. I’ll stress this and stress this until it sinks in. Timelines. They make our lives easier.