What the hell happened? My head hurts, the place around me is a mess. But wait, I realize that my family is already on vacation. I was going to work, and then I was planning to join them. I don’t know what happened. A break-in? No, actually, Ben’s security system is unbreakable. Even I have trouble with it sometimes. I need to retrace my steps, maybe figure out what’s going on.
Escape Tales: Low Memory is the successor of Escape Tales: The Awakening from the Polish publisher Board & Dice, which we could play last year and which we liked very much. So of course we were really looking forward to the new part, especially since it was supposed to be a sci-fi setting this time. In Low Memory we play three individual stories, each of which has its own view of the all-encompassing story and in which we act from the perspective of another character. With this escape game in episode form the authors Jakub Caban and Bartosz Idzikowski have set themselves this time quite a task. You can read in this review free of spoilers, whether it convinced us.
Elizabeth in security land
We begin our story in 2060 as Elizabeth Weber, a successful researcher who lives with her husband Ben, a security specialist, in a house equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Elizabeth is home alone because her family has already gone on vacation while she is still working on a research project. Everything seems to be a normal day, but the next morning there is chaos in the house, and we cannot remember anything. Fortunately, technology can help us to relive our stored memories. So we begin to search the chaos for clues about yesterday.
How did it go again?
Most of the mechanisms remain the same as we know them from The Awakening. Places are represented on the one hand with large illustrated maps of places, but there is also a grid for the places on which we place action tokens if we want to explore a certain area of a place map. In Escape Tales you are not under time pressure when playing. You can take as much time as you like to explore the locations and solve the puzzles.
However, the action tokens are limited. If you run out, you will need to draw a stress card, which will give you new tokens, but may also have a negative effect on the storyline. So, if you want to explore a location and have placed one of your precious action tokens, read the section indicated on the grid in the story book for your episode. Here you’ll be served up a portion of the story in short sections, pulling cards from the numbered pile, and sometimes getting useful information.
The app, your digital friend
The cards from the deck are mostly objects and/or part of the puzzles to be solved in Escape Tales: Low Memory. Sometimes you only need one card to solve a puzzle, but sometimes you need several. To find out exactly how many cards you need, check out the app that comes with the game. All cards that belong to a puzzle have a marker, so you can quickly find the right puzzle in the app. You can also enter the solution in the app, and the app will tell you which section of the story book you can look up afterwards. The app is actually a website, so you can use it on any PC with a browser. It can be accessed at any time at https://app.escape-tales.com/.
Forward, forward, always in the run
To complete particularly important puzzles, you’ll be given story cards throughout the game, which you can even keep over individual episodes, but you can also lose them again. The cards you collect depend on the path you take through the story.
Another new feature is that you now have puzzles where you can only progress step by step. There are extra progress tokens that you can use to keep track of how far you’ve come. However, this only happens a few times throughout the game, so it’s a small change.
Another change is that you can no longer leave a location before you’ve explored the main points. In The Awakening, this was still possible once you discovered an exit. Low Memory is a bit more restrictive here, but it also gives you the feeling of really making progress without missing large parts of the story.
But the biggest difference to the previous one is actually the division of the story into three episodes. In the predecessor there was a single story booklet with sections, here there are three different ones, one for each episode. It’s also given in which order you should play the single episodes. So you get more and more background information about the overall story. The overview in the margin of the booklet, which sections are on the page, is also well done, so you can quickly find the section you are looking for.
Before the actual main story you even get a little tutorial, in which you learn the most important mechanics and also already get something about the background and character Elizabeth Weber, who is your first protagonist. The other characters also play interesting, have their own motivation and bring their own view of the events, whose viewpoint is also included in the way the sections are written.
In the middle of it instead of just there?
The plot itself was exciting, but didn’t grab us as much as in the previous one. There we especially praised the story and the dense atmosphere. Also in Escape Tales: Low Memory again serious topics were addressed, so that also this time younger players should rather be kept out. However, everything isn’t quite as dark as in The Awakening and also unfortunately not as thrilling. We still felt entertained. But the end of the whole story couldn’t keep up with what we had expected from the predecessor and left us a bit disappointed. The main reason for this was probably the fact that you only make one entry in the app, where you can hardly understand what is happening in the background. Then you get an end served and that’s it.
The three stories themselves are closed in themselves, so that you can easily take a break between each episode. Since the total playing time is longer than that of The Awakening, this is also necessary.
Let’s puzzle our way out
We also had a lot of fun with the puzzles in the new game. They are very different and you notice the cooperation with the escape-room pro LOCKME in a positive sense. The level of difficulty of the more than 40 puzzles in the game, of which you won’t see all in one run, varies quite a bit. But in the first episode they are much easier and the complexity increases with each episode. The one or the other puzzle however made us desperate. With one of them I still don’t know how to deduce the solution. The help system usually brings quite good tips for the solution, here however my puzzle powers left me. Even after I knew the solution, it just didn’t make sense to me. Fortunately, this happened only once.
From the first part, we had learned to look at the maps really well and to discuss about the environment, because in the illustrations there are good indications where it is worth to have a closer look. This also proved to be helpful with Low Memory and made our start much easier. All in all the puzzles are again thematic and give sense at the places where they appear. But again we would recommend you not to play the game alone, instead to puzzle it with at least one other person. That made it much easier to get the right ideas for the more difficult puzzles.
A leap forward?
When comparing the two parts Escape Tales: The Awakening and Escape Tales: Low Memory, I can hardly decide for one of them. Personally, I found the story and the possible endings in the first game much better. However, I liked the flow of the game and the setting in the second game better. The puzzles are really good and varied in both games. In the end I would recommend everyone to play both parts. With which you start, is then pure preference in the setting. You can’t go wrong with either of them. There’s a good news about this game series: With Escape Tales: Children of Wymrwoods the third part will soon be released, this time with a dark fantasy setting. We are curious.