Point-and-click games often have a reputation for being either incredibly difficult and taxing with their obscure and confusing puzzles, or mind-meltingly simplistic with the illusion of choice affecting the outcome of the game in any sort of meaningful way. Escape Lala 2 is able to squeeze itself somewhere in the middle. While short, Escape Lala 2 is charming, humorous and packs some surprisingly devious puzzles. There are enough challenges to appeal to both newcomers and fans of the genre.
You begin inside a cave with very little explanation. All you need to know from the get-go is that the princess is nowhere to be found. Despite the minimalistic approach to the storytelling, there’s a much bigger story behind all of this, and quite a surprising one as well. It never intrudes and mostly remains in the background. The plot developers visually most of the time, with the occasional line of dialogue to be found. To top it all off, the soothing soundtrack and its quaint harmonies give the whole thing a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
The two-man team at DuckbearLab have made it no secret that their game is inspired by the point ‘n’ clickers of yesteryear. Titles created by the likes of Sierra Entertainment and Lucas Arts often were mind-bendingly difficult, though were often praised for their excellent visuals. Escape Lala 2 and its retro-inspired, pixelated graphics are minimalistic in appearance but still look marvellous. The rooms you’ll explore are luscious and colorful, while most items of interest stand out clearly from the rest of the environment.
Puzzle-solving tends to be as basic as using the correct item – ranging from reusable spell scrolls to mundane objects – on the right spot, but even that can be quite perplexing. There’s the occasional memory puzzle or colour-coded button combination to solve in order to progress, though these are not nearly as taxing. Thankfully, your trusty map will help you navigate areas and fast travel to certain rooms instantaneously, but only if you’ve previously clicked on the large, colorful gemstones that allow you to teleport to them. A lack of loading screens allows for near-instantaneous navigation between each area, and thank goodness for it.
To add a bit of spice to the game, the developers scattered gold coins across its many rooms. They blend fairly well with the background, and can be found hidden in holes or submerged in water, so a keen eye is required if you want to collect them all. Thing is, they’re more than just collectibles. They can be spent on hints and answers, should you so desire. Chances are you’ll need to use a few or more on your first try in order to jog your memory.
The amount you have left over will determine how many of the secret areas you can explore more after beating the game. It’s a crafty twist that works really well, and may encourage purists to discipline themselves in future playthroughs. Meanwhile, less experienced players can feel some reassurance knowing they don’t need to repeatedly use a walkthrough guide that would no doubt sour the experience.
There’s something about Escape Lala 2 that just… clicks. In fact, it’s a whole heap of things. Not only does it look and sound wonderful, there are no lengthy waiting times stopping you in your tracks. Its puzzles are not too daunting, but there are more than a few fiendish ones to behold. Having to decide between exchanging those precious coins in exchange for important clues is entirely optional, and perfect for younger or inexperienced players. Even if it’s notably short – it’ll take about two hours for the first playthrough – it’s hard not to praise such an enchanting game.
Game code supplied by developers.