Escape from Santaland is a moderate-length puzzle game themed around Christmas at the mall. More details follow the jump.
Escape from Santaland is a classic old-fashioned puzzle-fest. The setting pokes fun at faux Santa villages, which is not really a novel object for mockery, but it provides enough color to make the game feel thematically coherent. There’s not much of a story beyond “protagonist gets stuck in awkward situation, protagonist has to solve three related puzzles and a boss puzzle, protagonist wins!” — but as the game never misleads the player about what kind of experience it’s going to be, I wasn’t too frustrated by that.
The puzzles themselves are by and large fairly clued. I missed a couple of objects and had to look at the hints for that reason, but I probably should have investigated the environment a bit more thoroughly, so I blame myself rather than the game. Otherwise I found them accessible and not too difficult. They do presume a bit of familiarity with US Christmas traditions and culture, so I don’t know whether they will be more challenging for players from other countries. Implementation was clean and solid; I didn’t notice any missing scenery; hints were built in.
The emphasis on implausible brain teasers and light layer of fiction may not appeal to everyone, but the game thoroughly accomplishes what it sets out to do. People who like Hollywood Hijinx or some of the classics of the mid-90s will probably find Escape from Santaland a light-hearted and tidily constructed entry in that tradition. See also: Not Just an Ordinary Ballerina.
One very small spoilery comment:
Though I didn’t do this myself, I have the impression it’s possible just to solve two dials and then brute-force the last one by turning it until one hears a click — which means that it is probably possible to skip about a third of the game’s puzzle content. That seems a bit of a pity, but I’m not sure how you’d get around it other than by using some much pickier triggers.
Alternatively, maybe the way to see this is that it’s like a crossword: you don’t have to get all the clues, as long as you get enough of them to fill in the board.