Welcome to Area 86, a physics-based escape room puzzle game where you play as a small yet speedy AI who has gone rogue in a secret space station. Work your way around various rooms and find your potential escape route. Unlike the usual escape room, there is no time limit so you have the freedom to look around the environment to potentially smash, throw, carry, interact with and activate objects around the room to find clues that ultimately progress you through the levels and allow you to make your getaway. There is a selection of other tasks during each level at your disposal which has their own little demands to achieve and a select few collectibles to hunt for. This is an interactive and joyful little game developed and published by SimDevs where you can even get involved with some rather dapper parkour! Time to get into the details.
What we liked!
- Leisure to do what you want – Figure out puzzles and work on your escape, parkour around the room, break and make a mess of everything, find collectibles – what you choose to do is entirely up to you. With the much appreciated no time limit, there is no set way to go about each level. Everyone can tackle levels differently and it’s great because your progress is saved when you escape and you can revisit the levels to mop up anything you may have missed along the way which can give the game some replayability value.
- Different routes to complete levels – There is no set route to completing levels. You may do your tasks in whichever way you see fit meaning you could do all the optional objectives first and then crack on with the main one or do a bit of both when you may get stuck on. With this comes different ways to complete the levels so by interacting with something else you didn’t originally think to do, you may find unexplored and unexpected ways to fulfill your objective.
- Extra objectives – So you have managed to work out your escape route and you have the option to leave but you see an icon in the top corner which presents you with optional additional tasks to complete should you choose to which each have a rather short description of what needs to be done. Whenever exiting or completing a level, on the main menu you can see how much progress you’ve made on each section including collectibles and extra tasks. You may even be able to save other AI in some levels but this is not necessary. Overall it just means you have to explore a little more, play around with the various intractable objects and just experiment with your surroundings. There is always more than what meets the eye.
- A handful of challenging levels – Area 86 released with six levels and yes, although the levels will take up a good chunk of your time to solve with the additional tasks at hand also, I feel the game being a full release could have contained more levels to begin with. There are talks of new chapters and levels coming in later updates which I definitely feel the game will benefit from which I guess is also a way of making you come back to the game at a later date should you want to.
What we disliked
- Clunky controls at times – So you see an inaccessible area you would like to get to and you find yourself trying to stack boxes to get there only to accidentally knock into them or fail your jump to be set back to square one. This can be mildly frustrating at times but the lightness of the game takes the edge off these scenarios. The point of view you play can also be a hindrance sometimes when calculating distances and jumps. It actually means sometimes you may figure out the solution and instead spend more time acting on your ideas.
- Little to no background lure – One thing that always upsets me slightly is when games have slim to no lure. The only information the game gives you at the beginning about your situation is simply that “Space is the perfect place for Artificial Intelligence development” and that left me with much to be desired unfortunately. It had me asking questions such as ‘What year is it?’, ‘Why is this robot by himself?’, ‘Is human life still existent?’ which I felt would have brought the game to life. I understand the want and need to focus on actual gameplay, especially in a puzzle game however a little more additional information couldn’t have hurt.
There is a promising idea in Area 86 which is a simple yet aesthetically pleasing title with a compelling concept for a puzzle game which I don’t believe I’ve come across before which in itself is a great selling point. You can spend a good few hours trying to work out the current levels with their other hidden tasks included and hopefully we can expect more levels to look forward to in future content and continue being a resourceful, and at times, mischievous little rogue robot.
Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!