With this second main DLC for Escape Academy – Escape from the Past – we find ourselves jumping in for a third helping of escape room shenanigans from Coin Crew Games. As you might assume from the name, this latest DLC is set in the past, when the Escape Academy itself was first set up. Familiar characters such as Solange and Eel are back as their younger selves, being the Academy’s best students, and are the protagonists this time around. After being thrust into your first Escape, it soon becomes clear that not all is well at the Escape Academy. Someone appears to be trying to kill the headmaster, and it’s up to you to figure out who.
You’ll then proceed to tackle some more escapes centred around each of the three main suspects in the murder plot. Once you’ve completed each one, you’ll then be summoned to try and figure out who is responsible for the attempts on the headmaster’s life as part of the grand finale.
Gameplay remains pretty much unchanged from the main Escape Academy game. You’re pitched against various puzzle environments, where you have to move around and solve puzzles, crack codes, discover lock combinations, and more. There’s a set time for each one, although should you run out of time, you can always ask the game to add some more on for you, which is particularly useful if you’re right near the end and close to escaping. The hint system also returns, providing cryptic clues to progress to the next section of the puzzle, normally revealing just enough information to get you back on your way. Using hints or time extensions hinders your performance grade at the end though. So those looking for a sweep of A plus scores should try and steer clear of these and crack the escapes on their own.
And that feels perhaps slightly more plausible this time around. Escape from the Past feels slightly simpler compared to the Escape from Anti-Escape Island DLC, or indeed perhaps the more taxing parts of the main game. That’s not bad in itself, but those looking for the definitive challenge with this DLC may feel slightly disappointed. Sure, the countdown timer and large escapes add to a sense of anxiety and pressure. But in reality, most Escape Academy veterans shouldn’t struggle too much with the puzzles in Escape from the Past.
It’s difficult to say whether the timer just feels a little more generous or the puzzles just click now after so much practice, given this is the third time sampling the grey matter-whirring puzzles of Escape Academy. Either way, I definitely didn’t feel as pressured whilst playing, or nervous I’d run out of time as I did with the previous DLC. That’s not to say of course that it wasn’t fun. Escape from the Past is more Escape Academy in a good way in that the puzzles are varied, warrant exploration into all the nooks and crannies, and each task is a fair one, never feeling obtuse or forced. More often than not, you’re clear about what you need to generally, it’ll just be the how that stumps you for a while.
Escape to the Past is an interesting setting too because we’ve been here before – well technically after, chronologically – and so you’ll likely be familiar with a lot of the puzzle rooms you’re traversing. Sure the decor and clues are all mixed up, and some tweaks have been made, but you’ll remember a lot of these areas from the original game. And coupled with the fact you play as Solange, it’s a nice nod for fans of the story.
The flipside of that of course is that the puzzle rooms don’t feel as “new” as they usually do. And whilst there’s the usual “Oh that’s this area” each time, I still think the new and different areas in Escape from Anti-Escape Island felt fresher because we were exploring them for the first time. That said, the climactic moment of the the murder-mystery puzzle is well done. It requires you to piece together evidence making you feel like a modern-day Poirot, admittedly still with some dashes of Escape Academy bonkers puzzling thrown in too. It’s a nice little twist that gives the DLC purpose and a point of difference from the main game and other DLC.
Escape from the Past, then, is a nicely-crafted slice of escape room fun. It boasts the same level of quality, variation, and balance of head-scratching despite being fair puzzles that you’ve come to expect from Coin Crew Games in Escape Academy. It did feel slightly easier this time around, but the puzzles definitely will still stump you for a while. The murder mystery angle reaches a satisfying crescendo which leaves you in the driving seat to solve, and gives Escape from the Past its own vibe, despite looking very familiar thanks to its historical setting. This DLC is well worth a look for all Escape Academy fans.
Varied, well-designed puzzles
Murder mystery element is well done
More Escape Academy
Feels a little easier than previous DLC
Familiar setting means a touch of discovery is lost