Room Escape games to me are a fun little adventure to have for short bursts of free time. Rooms are usually based around a theme, feature some searching, problem solving, and inventory combinations. In this case on the iPad, you’re staring at a static image and move about to pre-rendered or drawn scenes. Well, what about making the whole experience 3-D? That’s exactly what the Stormglass team did with The Stormglass Protocol: Room Escape!
The premise is simple: solve the puzzles in each room via deciphering clues and racking your brain. The door opens and you’re onto the next room until the very end. In Stormglass Protocol you wake up in a mysterious chamber alone, save for a voice over a loudspeaker that says “Welcome to Vindiqo Research Laboratories”. This triggered my Portal reaction in my brain, realizing that going through these rooms will be an experience where I’m probably being tested by some snarky overseer. Not that it’s a bad thing; I do appreciate good humor and an adventure that doesn’t take itself too seriously. You can see evidence in this as you navigate through the hallways to each room and the rooms themselves: advertisements that claim a ridiculous flavor combo, written notes that reference famous thriller movies, a sombrero-wearing robot that is god-like at tic-tac-toe.
Bringing a room escape game to 3-D elevates the gameplay to make it a more immersive experience. Through the touch-screen controls of a directional pad and pan/swipe view look, you have to solve the puzzles by exploring your surroundings and taking mental note of the clues you find. The puzzles aren’t obtuse or incredibly difficult if you’re a savvy problem-solver, but they do make you work for it to solve them. The sixteen rooms can contain more than one puzzle to solve, but they flow into each other and are related so that it’s not haphazardly out of place. If you ever get stuck, there is a helpful hint system that doesn’t give you an obvious answer, but guides you to deduce how to solve your conundrum.
Since this is an iPad title, the touch screen interface is an aspect that can make or break a game. Luckily, Stormglass Protocol keeps it simple and has an easy-to-use scheme. Movement is smooth through the on-screen directional pad and panning and swiping to look around is just as smooth too. All it takes is a simple tap on the screen to interact with objects like switches and buttons or to pick up things for your inventory. It’s actually quite fun to see the results of your interactions on screen play out in front of you as you solve a puzzle or find a clue.
Graphically, Stormglass Protocol looks fairly well-done as an iPad title. Each room is unique in design and theme, with a few being rather large and that requires a bit of exploring. One room was large enough to feature a walk through an exhibit of different cultures throughout history. There are some muddy textures from time to time but the level design is detailed and doesn’t waste space.
The sound I felt was also well-done, the voice acting from the overseer is natural and believable (not phoned in or out of place) and in-game sound effects have a great quality to them. While there isn’t any music, it doesn’t really need it and actually put me in the mood as this one person going through these rooms being watched in silence. It’s certainly caused me to zone out a bit without thinking and realize I’ve been exploring a room for longer than I should instead of actively searching for clues or hints.
Overall The Stormglass Protocol: Room Escape! is a definite must-have for iPad users that are looking for an adventure game that tries something different in its genre. It’s only a $1 for hours of puzzle-solving fun. The iPad definitely needs more games such as Stormglass Protocol for on-the-go adventurers.