Escape Academy: Escape from the Past DLC Review – Surface Level Mystery

    Title: Escape Academy: Escape From the Past
    Developer: Coin Crew Games
    Release Date: June 19, 2023
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: iam8bit
    Genre: Puzzle Adventure

It feels pretty satisfying when you solve a puzzle, especially when it’s one full of complexity and intricacy. When Escape Academy was released in 2022, Coin Crew Games were able to gamify the escape room concept, and it worked marvelously. Shortly after the base game’s release, the first DLC of Escape from Anti-Escape Island came about. I vividly remember thinking the base game felt short, so it was exciting to get more levels. With the Escape from the Past DLC, there are more puzzles to make your brain itch and scratch any brain itch.

Seeing the name of the DLC should point out that the premise of this experience is based on the past. In particular, you’ll play as a younger version of Sandra and Eel from the base game. You get some background knowledge of Sandra’s time before becoming the Headmaster of the academy and how she bested Eel. You start by having Eel and Sandra compete to determine the best escape artist–a competition headed by former Headmaster Horatio Windsor. When finishing the competition, you must save the Headmaster as an unknown mastermind nearly murdered him. Upon recovery, Sandra and Eel set out to find the potential murderer and help save Horatio.


To uncover the truth behind the culprit, Sandra and Eel investigate each of the suspects, who happen to be faculty members of the academy. Like the base game and the first DLC, you’ll complete five new rooms of puzzles, piecing together clues to unmask the killer’s identity. Compared to the previous experiences, however, Escape From the Past manages to blend humor with a touch of morbidity.

Though the usual quirky puns and one-liners are present throughout each level, you also get a dire and ominous situation underlying the entirety of the experience. The spin on the narrative is that someone constantly tries to murder the Headmaster, so each level tends to become a bit threatening. You might get surprised by just how dire some of the situations become—even moments of slight discomfort added to the urgency of completing the puzzles. I was happy to see this change of tone and atmosphere, as it felt fresh and captivating. The narrative felt like it had more weight due to the potential consequences.


You can even see the narrative influences within the gameplay. Most elements retain the puzzle gimmicks and sequences, but you start to see a plot-focused shift as you continue each level. Like before, you’ll have a set time to solve each room. Despite a time limit, you can continue forward and add time to the clock if you struggle. You can also access hints, but utilizing them will dock points from your final grade. Mostly, I’d say this DLC’s puzzles felt a bit simpler than its predecessors. Over time, you’ll start to notice how the styles of puzzles become reliant on the story. 

In particular, once you get closer to deciphering the whodunnit mystery, you’ll see the pacing of the puzzles become more linear and strict. Instead of providing a head-scratching scenario and freedom of exploration, you’re asked to find evidence and use the info to deduce potential perpetrators’ intentions. Plot-wise, it makes sense, but it felt a bit muddy execution-wise. I didn’t feel like I was solving an escape-room puzzle; I felt like a detective solving a mystery. This isn’t inherently bad on concept, but I hoped for a more robust implementation. However, the climax of the story is quite impressive with its intensity and effect, so it’s clear how the balance scales in favor of the plot.


While the narrative felt more substantial and impactful, the puzzle rooms didn’t provide any novelty. You’re exploring similar environments to the base game, meaning there is slight familiarity with each room. The difficulty and complexity didn’t feel as memorable, but the conditions created by the plot gave the experience the ‘oomph’ that it needed. Regardless, the Escape from the Past DLC manages to craft a fun variant to the puzzles we’ve come to expect from the Escape Academy game.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Semy Rahman

Spicy food enthusiast who also happens to love and adore video games. They just both season life so beautifully!