Saturday, December 1, 2018

Book - The Escape Book

The hardest puzzle? Figuring how to survive that writing...


Ivan Tapia
# of Players:

Game Design & Mechanics
  • At first glance, this book reminded me of the French "Escape Book" series: a fairly thick soft-cover book with lots of text and not many images. As it turned out, the two are quite different, though.
  • Gameplay-wise, it's a lot more similar to this other book I previously wrote about. The reader / player goes through a series of linear puzzles. The main difference is that there's lots of text to read in between each puzzle.
  • Every puzzle you'll come across (there are 17 in total) yields a 2 or 3-digit code, which indicates the next page you need to go to. If you see a note saying "Candela has solved puzzle X", and it's the one you were working on, congrats, you can keep going.
  • The puzzles cover a reasonably wide range of styles, although they're mostly visual. The book encourages you to write inside it, but you can generally go without that. Still you might want to keep a copy machine within reach.
  • Whenever you feel stuck, the puzzle also provides a page number you can turn to for incremental hints leading to the complete solution.
  • There is no time limit proper, although the narrative constantly reminds the reader of the few amount of time that Candela (the main character) has left.
  • The puzzles cover a wide enough range that you're likely to find something you like in there.
  • A strong emphasis is put on the storyline...
  • ...which is unfortunate because said storyline is downright dreadful, along with the prose. You know, I'm all too aware that my own writing isn't on par with the great authors of this world (especially in English), but reading through this book helped me realize that I do have some notions of what "good writing" means. The repeated emphasis on visual descriptions and the overexposed background plot all pile up to make the "reading" part thoroughly unenjoyable.

    Some people have suggested skipping the text altogether and jumping from one puzzle to the next, but there are a couple cases in which that would deprive you of a few clues, namely .
  • Considering that every code can only be a page number, the pool of available answers is a bit small.
  • There are couple cases where the reader is expected to have some knowledge which I definitely would consider "outside knowledge", namely .
  • Like I've said before, I'm always flabbergasted to see authors and publishers expecting me to write into a pristine copy of a book, let alone fold and/or tear it. Fortunately this remains a minor concern here.

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