Despite the system's unique touchscreen feature, we've seen very few point-and-click adventures for the system. Intense Games hopes to remedy that situation with the release of its mystery adventure Escape Trick: The Secret of Rock City Prison on DSiWare. Combining a story full of plot twists with point-and-click puzzle solving elements, the game weaves an intricate challenge that's heavy on the frustration.
Since Escape Trick is a point-and-click adventure, that's exactly what you'll spend the majority of your time doing. As you're placed in various areas of the prison, you'll be forced to click on objects in your surroundings in order to investigate them and take them into your inventory. You'll even have to learn how to create necessary items by piecing together things you'll find, and although you're sometimes given small clues to shift you in the right direction, many times you'll find yourself spending lengthy playing sessions performing a lot of trial and error.
Your item menu is where you'll be able to store the items you've picked up along the way and you'll soon realise just how important each and every individual item is to your success in navigating through the game. You'll also have your notebook that you can write notes in, something that will also become particularly important in later stages of the game when the puzzles become far more intricate. Talking to people is also a good way to gain clues as to what your next move will be, but it generally always comes down to rampant trial and error when it comes to solving the majority of the game's challenges.
While the game is quite challenging in and of itself, the poor controls are what contribute the most to the moments of frustration you'll often face during your adventure. Many times you have to click of slide on a very specific spot in order to use items or trigger events needed for you to progress. Often times when it doesn't work immediately you move on to check other things out, spending an hour of redundant trial and error only to realise that you just didn't hit the exact spot on your original idea and just wasted a lot of time needlessly. It's these moments that begin to become add up and become more frequent and ultimately tarnish what could be a fairly enjoyable mystery.
The cel-shaded visuals in the game are a bit bland at times, but do give the game a very unique look that really works well within the framework of the prison theme you're placed into. Since most of your movements consist of merely facing another direction, there's not a huge need for smooth frame rates or fancy visual splashes. Of course that won't keep you from wishing for a few bits of eye candy along the way.
Much like the visuals, the musical score tends to keep things quite basic and tends to be used more for effect than to liven up the presentation. You'll get different pieces of music than tend to set the mood up, but don't expect any bells or whistles in this one. Perhaps that's what the developers intended in order to keep the prison feel intact, but it sure would have been nice to be able to listen to a few catchy tunes for those times when you find yourself stuck on one particular puzzle for an extended period of time.
It's easy to see what Escape Trick is trying to do, but the sloppy execution ultimately lets the overall package down. The poor controls and lack of direction in many parts of the game bring any type of enjoyable gaming experience to a halt far too often and you'll end up spending the majority of your playing time stuck on things that really shouldn't be nearly as difficult as they are. In truth, unless you're someone with infinite patience, you're likely to give up on this adventure long before the credits roll.