Send in the Clowns
In Park Escape, players investigate a string of mysterious disappearances in an abandoned amusement park. A puzzle escape game developed by Chinese studio PapaBox, it presents a fascinating mystery full of dark secrets and challenging puzzles. Unfortunately, challenging doesn’t always mean fair.
Players take control of two novice police detectives investigating an abandoned amusement park linked to multiple children’s disappearances. Gameplay is a simple point-and-click adventure. As you explore each part of the game, you click on areas to find puzzles or important items.
The art design is spot on, with each area offering a perfect mix of horror and whimsy. The two detectives, Liang Bowen and Han Qiuyu, have a unique anime-style design with harsh, dark shading. Meanwhile, the overall look of the game is dark with occasional bright colors. It creates a sinister feel that helps set Park Escape’s atmosphere.
Park Escape consists of ten chapters, each set in a new location. One of the more unique aspects of the title is how it uses the two detectives. Occasionally, they’ll become separated, with the player controlling both characters. During these sections, you can open up a way to transfer items to one another. This is a very fun way to break up the game during less exciting moments. The action picks back up right after the two detectives are reunited.
The great thing about Park Escape is the uniqueness of each puzzle, some of which are very interesting. One that stands out is a toy crocodile with seven sharp teeth that the player needs to press in the correct order. Other levels have you use slot machines or a crane game to get items. There is also a fair bit of variety in how the game delivers puzzles. For example, one puzzle plays through a game device you find on a desk, while most other puzzles are wall units.
The difficulty also varies greatly, with some puzzles being almost impossibly hard to solve without outside assistance. There’s one that requires you to read the password in morse code. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a morse code guide in the game, so the only way to decipher was to look it up. The game offers hints in exchange for coins, which the player can buy or earn by watching ads. However, players only get one coin per ad and most hints cost 2-5 coins. Even with hints, some puzzles are too difficult to solve. After Chapter 3, I found myself using a walkthrough for the more challenging puzzles. There were quite a few math puzzles that require more thought than patterns or simple codes.
PapaBox didn’t do a perfect job on the game’s English translation. Some clues or guides were too difficult to understand and made solving the puzzle nearly impossible. The story can also get confusing, but it just takes a little more thought to understand. However, it does break the immersion to have to decipher the writing.
Some minor fumbling with language doesn’t take away from the overall story of the game. Each chapter is exciting to explore and uncover more of the mystery of the missing children. Traveling through the levels just increased my admiration of the art style. Popular horror villains sometimes make unexpected cameos in this title, increasing the sense of dread found throughout. Ultimately, Park Escape creates a story that becomes clearer while the puzzles get more complex.
Players might need a little help getting through or even understanding the more challenging and confusing puzzles. Watching ads for hints or using a walkthrough reduces frustrations and helps players get back into the story. Overall, though, Park Escape offers a great combination of tricky puzzles and a jaw-dropping mystery.
Is It Hardcore?
Park Escape brings players on a journey through challenging puzzles, creepy locations and a slightly confusing mystery.