Best Online Escape Games [June 2019]
Escape the room games are by no means a new development, but they are experiencing a significant resurgence in part thanks to the growth of mobile gaming. This type of games revolves around using a very rudimentary visual layout and having the player interact with their surroundings. The basic premise is that, by manipulating objects and finding hidden clues, the player will “escape” their predicament. These games range in complexity with some taking many hours to complete.
This article will explore a bit of the history of online escape games and make some suggestions about where to start if you haven’t played one before. Note that most of these games will require Adobe Flash Player to run.
How It All Began
Back in the early 1990s, the release and subsequent popularity of the Myst series of games proved that a game with puzzles in a scripted environment could be wildly successful. This lead to a steady release schedule of sequels, and many companies became interested in entering that market. This kind of single-location, first-person puzzle game is attributed with sparking the real-world escape room trend that is so popular today.
The current incarnation of escape games has its roots in freeware browser games. The advent of Adobe Flash brought with it a wave of user-generated content owing to the relative ease of working with the platform. Internet veterans will remember sites like Newgrounds and Kongregate as the biggest hubs for this type of games. Flash was particularly well-suited to a simple point-and-click interface without a lot of superfluous animation, so escape room games began to rise in popularity.
Modern escape games are much more elaborate than those first tentative steps, but even today those old Flash games remain decent representations of the genre. Now that we’ve covered the origins, let’s look at some of the best online escape games.
The Crimson Room
We’re starting off with one of the classics. The Crimson Room was released back in 2004 but remains one of the best examples of what a well-designed escape game should be. The premise is simple: the player wakes up with a hangover in a locked room. The room is sparsely furnished and the objective is to explore the room until the door leading out is unlocked.
The barebones approach of this game makes it ideal for the novice escapist. Figuring out the puzzles should take somewhere around 30 minutes for a dedicated player. This will give you a good feel for the genre so you can decide if you’re ready for a more challenging game.
The Neutral Games
Game developer Neutral has released a series of escape games since 2007. They are very well-reviewed by the community and feature varying degrees of difficulty. The most recent additions are quite advanced compared to their predecessors. Modern game engines have replaced Flash, resulting in much more attractive and streamlined games.
At the time of writing this article, there are seven fully released games on their website. Each of the games is graded on a scale of one to four stars based on its difficulty. Even though the easier games are newer, it’s a good idea to start with those to get a sense of how the developers think before moving on to other, more complex ones.
Escape from 26
Escape from 26 is a lesser-known game and a departure in a few ways from the previous ones. Unlike the other games listed, this one is not played from a first-person perspective. Instead, it takes place in an isometrically projected country cottage. A great deal of effort has gone into making the setting realistic, and the soundtrack is well-chosen. To “escape” in this case, you will navigate the courtyard and the inside of the cottage.
In terms of visual appeal, this game stands out for taking on a unique approach. It also has more characters than just the protagonist, another unusual feature in escape games. More emphasis is put on the storyline around which the gameplay takes place, and you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised by the ending.
The Submachine series of games is something of an institution in the escape game domain, so popular, in fact, that it has its own fan-made website. This well-known series has 13 installments so far. The games take you through a maze-like path of rooms and puzzles with very streamlined gameplay. You will rarely, if ever, find yourself stuck to the point that you can’t figure out what to do next.
This is a very long-running series of games, so there’s plenty of meat to get through. Of all the games listed, these are probably the best designed and will test your escape skills substantially. Once you’re ready for the challenging dive into Submachine, you won’t be disappointed.
The room escape genre of games is great for a casual gaming experience that keeps players fully engaged without being too demanding. The time investment is also not bad for these games as most players will find that any given game will take about an hour to complete.
There are hundreds of online escape games and this is just a sample of the options. These are all great games for beginners or seasoned veterans looking to flex their escape muscles. Once you’ve exhausted all the online options, you may even want to try your hand at a real-life room escape game near you.
What are your favorite online escape games not included in this article? Share your top picks in the comments below!