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Must Escape! Reviews
Author: Robert Street
Date: 2005

Reviewed by Stefan Donati

This entry of the Adrift Summer Comp 2005 is written by Robert Rafgon, and was placed fourth. After the end of the comp, a second version with some bug fixes has been released, and can be downloaded from the official Adrift site. My review covers the second version. 

The intro of the game is already known from this year’s Intro Comp, and hasn't changed. The player is some kind of agent who's on his mission inside the enemy laboratory. But luck isn't on your side this time, and the alarm goes off: clearly, you must escape. Being inside an enemy base doesn't necessarily make this any easier, and a fight against a guard happens right after the first corner. Fighting is done via the Adrift battle system, and is graphically nice implemented by showing the fighting of the two opponents. While the intro ends after this fight, the full game does not, of course. The base has several different areas, which all must be explored in order to escape. What I really liked is that the map is easily memorised but multilayered nonetheless. 

Winning the game basically means solving a few, not very difficult, puzzles; finding the right keys for the doors and survive and avoid the battles against the guards. And while I've been sceptically about how well the fighting system may work in a full version, it turns out it does surprisingly well. The fights are different, the player has to take care of his health status, and especially the end sequence gives enough space to move around freely while fighting your way out. 

The writing is good, and describes everything in a short and informative manner. However, the base feels rather empty, and while this suits some rooms well, it seems a little bit artificial in others. Speaking about emptiness, the story comes to mind, unfortunately. There's not much the game tells us about the player's character, his mission, or the enemy. 

Still, the games manages to establish a certain atmosphere which makes it thrilling to move on, trying to escape from this unfriendly place. There's no adrenaline involved, though, as the threads of being caught only lingers in the air but is not very immediate - the game won't let you into certain rooms, and the guards are not patrolling around. Thus I felt as if the game would patronise me, and won't allow my detection; I experienced this as a drawback to my overall impression. 

But after all, I enjoyed this game. It is a short agent thriller, and is fun to play. 

Reviewed by David Whyld

The original version of “Must Escape!” – an entry in the ADRIFT Summer Comp 2005 (where it came fourth out of five entries) – was entered in the ADRIFT Intro Comp. It comprised of just two locations and one fight between the player and a nameless NPC. As a novelty item, it was harmless enough but I never really warmed to it. So when I found out it had been enlarged to a full size game for the Summer Comp, I can't say I was really looking forward to it. But just as when he took the mini-game “Veteran Experience” and enlarged it to make the full game “Veteran Knowledge”, the author has added quite a lot of content to this game, turning it from a novelty into quite an interesting piece.  In “Must Escape!” you are a saboteur. You've just destroyed a laboratory and must get out of the building in one piece. 

The full version starts at the same place as the original, but whereas the original finished the moment the fight with the first NPC you encounter is over, the full version continues after that. You're at loose in an enemy building, with guards closing in on you, and you need to utilise whatever resources you can in order to escape. 

There are a few failings in logic scattered throughout the game, almost most are common place in the majority of text adventures. The items needed to progress through each of the locked doors are, quite conveniently, just lying around waiting for the player to come along and pick them up; there's a locked cabinet at one point which the player is able to open with an item he just so happens to find right beforehand; enemy soldiers are always encountered one at a time, so there's never any risk of the player being overwhelmed by sheer weight of numbers. It's also remarkably lucky for the player that all the enemies he faces while unarmed* are also unarmed. 

* You broke into an enemy base and sabotaged it without a weapon to hand? See what I meant about logic… 

Combat makes up a good portion of this game so it's only fair to mention it in this review. I didn't much care for it in the intro, but here it's much better handled. Stick figures of the player and the NPC appear on screen, with commands listed below along the lines of Kick, Punch, Move Left, Turn Right, Shoot, Wait and so on. Figuring out the commands to use to deal with your enemies is part of the fun of “Must Escape!” but the combats themselves seem heavily weighted in favour of the player. You always get to attack first, you always hit, and so if you've got more health than your enemy there's no chance of you losing. 

The final fight varies from the others in that you don't actually need to do any real fighting. It's just you and a gun, facing an NPC and a gun. Shoot him and he has a tendency to duck out of the way through an open door so you end up missing him. Don't shoot him and he shoots you (ending the game rather suddenly, and rather annoyingly as well as my previous save was quite a few moves further back). I figured my way past the guard in the end and that was it for “Must Escape!” My player escaped and, presumably, lived happily ever after. 

The full version of this game is certainly more interesting than the intro, but I can't help feel that it's a bit of a comedown compared to what the author did when expanding “Veteran Experience” into “Veteran Knowledge”. 

5 out of 10

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