Puzzlers come in a ridiculous array of different shapes and sizes. This is the reason why this genre is one of my all-time favorites in gaming. I love coming back to something different every time and being able to use some of the old gray matter while I’m at it. This being said, I’ve been playing with a brand new puzzling entry to your PS4 libraries. It’s called Escape String and it’s proving to be tricky and frustrating fun.
In Escape String you take on the role of a robot who wakes up on a scrap heap. You aren’t initially given any actual reason as to what landed you there but there seems to be someone else who really wants to keep you alive. You’ll have to escape with the aid of this stranger with your behind intact while navigating a bunch of lethal obstacles in the process. This is not your average platformer, though, as I’ll explain in a bit more detail in a moment.
First off, you’re probably wondering what a string is. So, a string is a series of commands that are inputted in advance of your character moving. The aim is to navigate the room you’re in, in one go, without falling foul of any of the obstacles that bar your way. These obstacles are many and range from pits to lightning rods, to a variety of other automata that want to dismantle you. You’ll need to have a good amount of spacial awareness and forethought because many of the things that are trying to kill you aren’t stationary. It’s one thing avoiding something that isn’t moving, but something totally different getting out of the way of something that is when all your movements are planned out in advance.
The bar at the bottom is your string. You’ll have to calculate the distance if you’re going to survive.
Escape String is one of those games where it’s kind of a case of it is what it is. I’m not saying this to be derogatory but those of you that are looking for a game where the mechanics change dynamically as you go is going to be a bit disappointed. This is the sort of game that takes a fairly simple premise, (in this case the string mechanics,) and then make it progressively more difficult to achieve your objective by throwing in increasingly tougher obstacles.
Escape String is a puzzler first and foremost as opposed to being a hybrid. I think this is worth taking into account when you’re deciding what you’re looking for from the overall experience. As a puzzle fan, I don’t have any issues with the overall simplicity of play because there’s so much there that’s making this game absolute nails.
One hit means death, so plan accordingly.
Escape String is the sort of game that’s an absolute nightmare for completionists. You’ll win various awards for doing well in levels. The aim is to complete each room on your first go, in one fluid motion, using as few input commands as possible. Personally, I’m not particularly bothered whether I perfect every level or not. I’m more than happy to play through the game and just enjoy the challenge as it’s presented.
Those of you that have to get everything in every game you play to 100% perfection are going to have a withering experience here. Saying all of this, this sort of game is purely about the challenge and you’re absolutely going to get one of those. Achieving the golden chip in each level is also good because these will unlock skins for your robot. The skins don’t do anything in terms of adding abilities etc. but it’s not that sort of game; they’re just really nice to have.
Not all your enemies are static.
Nuts and bolts wise I don’t have any complaints as far as Escape String goes. The game is beautifully drawn and you’ll instantly fall in love with the little robot that you’re desperately trying to save. You can’t make any complaints about the control system because everything is done in advance. If you keep falling down the same hole it’s not down to wonky controls it’s because you aren’t learning where your inputs need to be quick enough. I never really make much comment about the sound but this is all very fitting for the task at hand so no complaints there either.
This is the sort of game that you’ll either fall in love with instantly and become absolutely addicted to or not, I don’t think there’s much in between. If you like the mechanics and the challenge that you’re being presented I don’t see any reason why you won’t absolutely love everything EscapeString has to offer. If you don’t like the idea of completing every level in advance of actually completing the level, (which is sort of what you’re doing,) you probably won’t feel the impetus to keep battling away. This is the core mechanic, and as I’ve said, it very much is what it is. If you like a challenge this might just be different enough to be a great addition to the plethora of puzzles you no doubt already have on your console. As an additional note, Escape String is going to cost you the princely sum of £5.79. That’s really good value for money for what you’re getting. Honestly, for the sake of a fiver, I’d say it’s very much worth giving this one a try.
A brilliant escape plan
Look and feel - 8/10
Challenge - 8/10
Replayability - 8/10
Value for money - 8/10
A really fun run
Escape String is a brilliant puzzle game for those of you that aren’t looking for something expansive. This is the sort of game that gives you a clever premise and builds consistently on that foundation. With this being said, Escape String accomplishes what it sets out to do very nicely. Those of us that like a relaxed experience will get it because all moves are preplanned. If you want a challenge, though, getting each level’s golden chip will be enough to keep you going for ages. All in all, really nicely done.
Hailing from Southport England, Alex started his gaming career in the late 80s on a Commodore 64. Since that time he's either owned or played on virtually every console released. Alex happens to...