Amanda: Welcome to the GameGrrlz blog! Today we’re discussing the rogue like point and click adventure escape game Alleys. This is probably my favorite game so far this year- I’m surprised it isn’t more popular. It has a huge map to explore, full of twisty little passages (there’s something Zorkesque about it despite it having graphics). The graphics are clear and beautiful, with a dark, lonely feel. Gameplay relies on collecting cards which allow you to take actions (like a ladder card for reaching up high), and collecting keys and “check-ins”. At every new location there’s a little box you click, which flips up a little flag on the box, and you have checked in at that location. Keys and check-ins are your currency for opening doors, boxes, and drawers. The more keys and check-ins you accumulate, the more things you can open, expand your map, and find treasures. The game has a beautiful attention to detail, with many, many locations, varied puzzles, and tasks to accomplish. It has a bit of the feel of the “Room” games, although its gameplay is very different. This is a game for people who like to make maps, explore big areas, look for hidden objects, and solve puzzles.
I hesitate to criticize it at all, because it’s such a great and satisfying game, but I do have a few peeves. First, it keeps calling your location a “theme park,” which is odd, because there’s nothing theme-parky about the place. I suspect that’s a translation issue. Second, the game provides you with a map which you find somewhat early in the game, but the map isn’t very useful- it doesn’t show your current location and has no legend to tell you why some areas are blue. Third, there is a clue button which will spotlight areas you should look at for about a minute, but the clue button shows random numbers in some locations which apparently are telling you how many meters away from objects you are, and I never figured out why it did that- it was never useful and cluttered up the screen when I was looking for spotlighted areas. And fourth, my biggest pet peeve is that I unexpectedly and prematurely won the game before I had done many things. There was no warning that I would win, and no “undo” feature so I could get back to my game. You have to start all over again. And apparently there are multiple ways to escape and win, so it is easy to escape without meaning to. This just HAS to be fixed. Either a warning that this action will end the game, or an “undo” feature needs to be in place.
Overall, though, this game is really worth the purchase price, has high replayability, and is really fun. Simply wandering through the empty alleys, rooms, sewers, mines, and turrets is a joy.
Eva:Alleys is a fun romp if you like mazes, puzzles, collecting clues and solving a mysteries. I was genuinely impressed with the scope of the game and particularly appreciated the double duty of checking-in to locations (knowing you’ve been there before and gaining you entry to more locations) and the quirky little bits along the way that satisfied the puzzler in me. I feel that I got a lot of gameplay joy - until the end where it disappoints with gamus-interruptus.
Puzzlers like to puzzle and they don’t mind spending 6-8 hours doing so. We invest our time and want to be able to solve all the things before we feel we have won. When I escaped the theme park (that reminded me of Universal’s Harry Potter World complete with double-decker bus) I had not made it into all the rooms, figured out the where the treasure was hidden, visited the VIP room, delivered the produce or figured out why I collected so many pieces of coal if it was just for the key machine. I should not have been able to waltz out just because I collected four bits on a card. Now, I understand that replay is real and people enjoy beating their own time, but I simply was not motivated to do so.
Technically, navigation was pretty easy, the crickets and natural aural ambience made for a nice soundtrack, and having a lot to look at to inspire my next move (backpack, cards, hints) was great. However, the “?” button that revealed the proximity of missed assets (I’m guessing) also revealed things that were in rooms I was not standing in and pointed to objects I could not see. The map is beautiful, but I never knew where I was on the map and I could never tell if it revealed places I had visited or not. It needs a legend, a “you are here” dot, and maybe it could display token and flags I was missing.
Am I glad I played it? YES. It was a great trip to somewhere else with some fine and fun puzzles, but I feel slightly robbed of completion. I hope the additions and edits are made so I can play again when I’ve forgotten most of the solutions. Please keep us locked inside until we are done, solved it all and most importantly, have a firm understanding of why we had to do what we had to do, collect and solve if, in the end, it really didn’t matter.
Eva and Amanda are best friends who puzzle obsessively. Our focus is on iOS puzzle games, interactive fiction, and live room escapes.