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A Short Tale Review

A Short Tale Review

A Short Tale Review

A nice departure from the standard "escape the room" fare with challenging puzzles and a whimsical soundtrack


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Genre: Room Escape
Release date: February 11, 2016

Escape the Room

Most tablet gamers are familiar with the “Room Escape” genre. The typical game opens with you finding yourself in a locked environment with no knowledge of who you are or how you got there. Often, there’s a malevolent force at work and the object of the game is to escape the room by locating clues and solving puzzles.

A Short Tale, by Glitch Games, departs from this scenario by opening with the bittersweet story of Jason, who’s lost his brother Ben. He returns to Ben’s childhood room and is filled with memories of good times gone by. He wishes that he could be small again and return to the past. While the intent of Jason’s wish is to be a child again, his wish is granted literally and he shrinks to a very small size. So small, in fact, that he can’t reach the doorknob to leave the room. Thus begins a first-person escape which requires you to enlist the help of various toys to aid you in your exit. Each toy has one or more objections to helping you, and which must be overcome by performing a task or finding a requested item. And no errand is simple. All require the unveiling of a series of clues, with one puzzle leading to the next, until all toys are satisfied and can be convinced to come to your aid.

The game is a 2D point-and-click interface that uses the mouse to navigate and select. You move through adjacent room segments by clicking on the edge of the current view, as indicated by on-screen directional arrows. You can zoom in to interact with many objects in the room, and inventory is collected and used by clicking. There are paths to climb and others to descend so Ben’s bedroom includes a lot of geography for a small person to explore. Active items are not visually differentiated, and this leads to a good bit of clicking in the beginning as you learn the lay of the land.

Jason’s musings and his conversations with specific toys are presented in text without voice-overs. The soundtrack consists of environmental effects backed by a whimsical music score which adds to your sense of being in a child’s room. I found myself enjoying it rather than playing in “silent” mode (which I often do).

To avoid the risk of lost game progress, A Short Tale includes an auto-save feature and also provides the player with the option of intentionally saving to multiple slots.

Simple But Not Easy

Glitch hasn’t disappointed me. The puzzles are thought-provoking and require a certain level of intellect. Some are inventory-based while others require interpreting patterns at a conceptual level. Often, clues aren’t as obvious as they first appear and, on several occasions, I spent a bit of time pursing the wrong approach entirely. The absence of any in-game hints makes A Short Tale even more challenging. I was determined to make it all the way through this adventure without any outside assistance and I was almost successful. I did get stuck at one point and required a nugget of information which I will share here. A Short Tale does not accept input via your microphone (i.e., talking to or shouting at the game has no effect). If a puzzle requires a voice command, you’re going to have to figure out how to make it happen with objects found in the game environment.

A Short Tale includes the Glitch Camera which is my very favorite game feature. This allows you to take pictures of clues and then, when needed, “float” a specific picture over the game screen for use as a reference when solving a puzzle. Thus, there’s no need for extensive note-taking with pencil and paper.

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The Long and Short of It

As the name (and price) imply, this is a fairly short game that takes place in a single room. However, if one avoids the temptation of peeking at a walkthrough, the puzzles are challenging enough to provide quite a few hours of contemplation, trial and error  And, there’s something truly satisfying about completing an adventure armed with only your wits and imagination.

For those who are Glitch Game fans, you may remember that Cabin Escape: Alice’s Story is a short game released between Forever Lost 2 and Forever Lost 3. It came out during a long development cycle and served to keep Glitch in our minds and remind us that a new title was coming soon. Right now, Glitch is actively working on a new game, The Forgotten Room, that is coming ‘”soon-ish.” In the meantime, A Short Tale fills the gap and reaffirms my belief that a new Glitch adventure is worth waiting for with anticipation .

Story is a nice departure from the standard ‘escape the room’ fare
Puzzles are challenging but solvable through creative thinking
Whimsical sound track provides a nice respite from the stresses of the day
– Prepare to do a lot of clicking


Cindy Kyser

Cindy Kyser

Cindy’s love affair with gaming began when she opened a mailbox in front of a white house and took the first step in a long series of adventures. ‘Back in the day,’ Cindy was a regular contributor to JA and an active member of the online gaming community. She has attended several E3s and has had the pleasure of spending time in person with both Ray and Randy. Her all- time favorite adventures include the Tex Murphy series, the Gabriel Knight series, and The Longest Journey. She also enjoys RPGs and her list of ‘best ever’ includes Fallout, Asheron’s Call, and Planescape Torment. Â Frustrated with the cost of rising PC system requirements, Cindy decided to switch to console and tablet gaming. Although you can teach some old dogs new tricks, she discovered that console controller dexterity is a skill set that she is lacking. Her results with tablet gaming were not much better. With the exception of a few gems such as The Room and Forever Lost, there is a limit to how much one can play Candy Crush and Hidden Object Adventures. Having proved that pure escapism is worth the investment, she has a new gaming laptop and is back to her search for the perfect adventure. Â After spending most of her life in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Cindy escaped the stress of urban life and moved to rural Arkansas. To show that she has become a true Arkansan, she has taken up deer hunting, wears pink camo, and put a chicken coop in her backyard. On a stressful day, she can be heard yelling ‘Woo Pig Sooie’ when all else fails.

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