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PC games that could even be escape rooms

During the introduction before the games, we usually ask the team, "How experienced are you as escapers?", so that we can determine how controlled the gameplay should be, how much help to give and - for some rooms, where possible - what difficulty to prepare the course for . Of course, the answers range widely, but there are teams who answer: "Well, we haven't been in an escape room specifically, but we've played quite a lot of similar games on the computer." These are typically family teams.

And indeed: there are plenty of PC (and of course other platform) games that are eerily similar to escape rooms in terms of mechanics and puzzles and, like them, require creativity, investigation, or just logical thinking. We will present a few of them in the coming time.

#1 Machinarium

The game was created in 2009 by an indie (independent) development team called Amanita Design. This wasn't their first game like this and the previous ones are great too, but this is perhaps the best known. In terms of its style, it is a point-and-click adventure game, which means that we control our protagonist with the mouse and we have to wander from screen to screen to find hidden objects, and then with the help and combination of these, we solve the various puzzles in order to progress. If you look closely, this could even be a quick summary of an escape room: search for objects, clues, codes → combine or use them → advance.

One of the special features of the game is the hand-drawn, impressive backgrounds and animations, for which the creators - deservedly - managed to collect countless awards. What's great about it is that it doesn't require any knowledge of the language: the story and the tasks are only told and explained with the help of pictures and animations. In addition, it is completely child-friendly, although it is quite difficult in places, so it can make even an adult gamer sweat. Perfect for a family program and challenge.

#2 Ether One

Ether One is a special multi-layered game in many ways. What makes it special is that it can be played in two ways, as two different but full-fledged games:

1.: on the one hand, a first-person walking simulator supported by a very deep personal story - which means that the story and the past, memories of our protagonist and the everyday life of the residents of Pinwheel, which serves as the location, are revealed to us by freely roaming around different locations, without hindering factors some moments. One of the strengths of the game is the story itself, so it is safe to say that it can deliver an experience equivalent to reading a well-written novel. Moreover, since the plot is accompanied by interactivity, visuality and an unusual, unique story management and narrative style, the whole thing seems much more personal than an ordinary novel. This in itself is a full-fledged game and experience that is worth trying, but this is where the second possible way comes into play...

2.: in addition to the above and in addition to them, the game world contains countless puzzles and puzzles for players looking for a challenge. Some of these are not even noticeable at first if you are not looking for them, they are so well integrated into the environment, the life and locations of the small town. This is the point where the game connects to the world of escape rooms, although you can spend several hours solving 1-1 more difficult tasks. This also shows that this line of the game is difficult - very difficult indeed. These are the type of puzzles that go beyond the game, that will require paper and pencil... a puzzle game this complex and difficult is rare, so those who like this style should definitely give it a try; as well as lovers of good stories.

#3 The Black Watchmen

Among the games mentioned so far, this is perhaps the most "abstract", the most special title. In terms of its genre, it is an Alternate Reality Game (ARG), which roughly means that the creators extend the playing field and the scope of the tasks beyond the program itself. While in an ordinary game everything takes place within the given program, in the case of an ARG, in the game itself we only find the task or mystery to be solved and we have to get to the end of it with the involvement of external resources. These sources can be very, very diverse. A few non-exhaustive (and spoiler-free) examples:
– simple wikipedia articles related to the topic, which can be read to obtain new, relevant information that will propel us forward
– fictitious pages operated by the creators, where, for example, we have to investigate a suspicious employee of a fictional company
– various decryption applications
– and in case of pre-determined events, things hidden in the real world for a limited time (e.g.: searchable QR codes located at specific points in the capital of every major country, which we have to find on the street after leaving the machine) or live phone calls.

In terms of its tone, it is a rather gloomy game, as we play one of the detectives of a secret agency who has an unusual, shocking, sometimes supernatural case.

Investigates events, mysteries, secret groups and conspiracies. The game can be quite difficult, it's easy to get stuck in it. In such cases, it is worthwhile to rest a little - even 1-2 days - and return to the investigation with fresh eyes.

It can be seen from the above that it is an unusual and infinitely complex experience that - like a good escape room - requires creative thinking and perseverance. Undoubtedly, it's not for everyone, it's a layered genre, but those who are into it will love it.

*my own experience: although there is no official multiplayer in the game, using a simple voice chat platform (Discord, TS) we can easily turn a solitary investigation into a joint brain exercise for two (or more) people, which provides an even more special, unique experience... and with a good chance we will need the other's help anyway. At least I needed it. :)

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