We've already seen two Escape Trick releases on DSiWare, each taking place in a unique environment ranging from a musty prison to a oriental-themed castle. And while the games feature a point-and-click gameplay system that would seem to fit the DS touch screen quite perfectly, the execution in both titles has been severely lacking. Now Intense Co. is going for a third outing and once again the setting has changed, but unfortunately, the sloppy gameplay hasn't.
Since Escape Trick: Convenience Store is a point-and-click adventure, you're going to spend the majority of your time interacting with areas and objects using the DS touch screen. Sometimes this will involve you touching items in order to take them into your inventory whereas other times it involves solving puzzles and combining items together to form new ones that can be essential in figuring out some of the game's more intricate brain-teasers. For the most part, it means you're going to spend a lot of time randomly tapping around just hoping to find something that can be used to progress further into the adventure.
Your item menu is where you 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. You'll also have your notebook that you can store photos you snap of your surroundings and write notes in, something that will also become particularly important in later stages of the game when the puzzles become far more taxing. A good rule of thumb is that if you can't find anything else to pick up or solve around you, you'll probably want to check your notes to make sure that you haven't missed anything from earlier in your searches.
There are plenty of challenges and puzzles to be had, but the lacklustre controls end up bringing the entire experience down. Often times you'll find yourself on the right track, but if you don't click on some items and areas in just the exact right spot, you might think there's nothing there to pursue and move on, thus missing what could have been an easy solution to a puzzle. And since this leads to even more endless trial and error, things can go from fun to frustration in a hurry and turn what could be a rather enjoyable mystery adventure into a full-blown lesson in futility.
The cel-shaded visuals in the game are a bit minimal at times, but do give the game a very unique look that really bring the convenience store theme to life. It's also nice to see a bit more colour and vibrancy this time around after the rather dark and moody visuals in past releases. And given the severe lack of audio effort in the package, it's hardly worth even mentioning.
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 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 or are just a huge fan of this rather tedious series, you're likely to give up on this adventure long before the credits roll.