Get JIGgy with it.
This really took me by surprise. As some of you know, I sometimes contribute over at Jay is Games on top of writing here and at the politics blog at CFLF. So I get something of a behind the scenes look at what goes on over at JIG.
But I really didn’t see this coming. I vaguely remember a conversation a while ago when someone asked if JIG would ever put out its own game, considering it’s one of the biggest casual gaming blogs and regularly holds game designing contests. I remember Jay replying that something was in the works, but I hadn’t heard word one of whatever that something might be since then.
And then, BAM! JIG comes out with its very own room escaper, and I gotta tell ya, I’m impressed.
I’ll be honest with you, while I started off as a major fan of room escapers, I kind of lost my taste for them. There’s still nothing to be said against the best of the best, however; it’s a flooded genre. As a result it has become prone to cliches and poor craftsmanship. There’s ALWAYS something UNDER the wastebasket, there’s ALWAYS something hidden in a spot that takes some serious pixel hunting to find, you get the idea.
Which is what makes JIG’s first major game rollout so awesome. While it looks like a room escape game, it doesn’t really play like one, and at times even pokes a little fun at the genre. Further, it makes no bones about the role puzzle solving plays in the act of escaping, therefore it ends up being much more honest and upfront about it as opposed to driving you into a fit of ridiculous pixel hunting.
On top of that the visuals are just beautiful; moody in the room, but each of the puzzles enjoys its own style, my personal favorite being that of the stickman puzzles which have this cool retro-future look (yes, I know that’s contradictory, but I’m talking about what futuristic looked like back in the 80’s eg. the TRON era).
There appears to be homage to some familiar casual games, the pipe puzzle is an interesting and frustrating twist on the old “pipedreams” theme, while the stickman puzzle mentioned above enjoys a decidedly Hapland feel to it, which makes sense considering that Jay appears to have an affinity to those style of games.
But let’s make no mistake, this is a pretty hard game. If escape the room games allowed designers to make item based puzzles harder and more intense than in the old point and click adventure games they were derived from, than this new twist that the Casual Gameplay team put on the escape the room genre makes the puzzles even more difficult.
Some of you will find this a delicious addition, others may discover it to be too difficult and want to cave. There’s no need, though, considering that a walkthrough is already posted at the site.
But ultimately CGE enters the field not just another room escape, but a brilliantly executed title that just might change the way room escapers are approached from here on out. Pretty ambitious for (what I am pretty sure is) a first offering, but then what else would you expect from Jay is Games?