Escape from Anti-Escape Island picks up right where Escape Academy left off, both in terms of narrative and the challenge that you’ll face. After finishing out the school year with a bit of a bang, it’s time for a well-earned holiday in this DLC, but things go terribly wrong on your flight to Locksmith’s Cove and you, the Headmaster, Jeb and your fellow student Gillian are forced to eject from the jet and land on what turns out to be Anti-Escape Island. This expansion is exactly what it says on the tin: an island run by anti-escape scientists who have sought to capture you and put you in an inescapable situation. Luckily for your fellow escapists, their plan isn’t exactly escapist-proof.
There’s five new levels to play through, all with a difficulty that’s roughly equivalent to the later stages of the main game. However, it feels like the levels are also that bit longer, giving more puzzles for you to solve within the 25-30 minute time limits they seem to stick to. Some of that is thanks to more elaborate setups. By the mid-point of this expansion, the level design is able to really evoke the feel of a sprawling underground facility – you’ll be crawling through vents and connecting up clues and ideas through several rooms.
The puzzles themselves are pretty tricky as well. Sure there’s some fairly straightforward ciphers, picture puzzles and basic maths ones, but this DLC has some real brainteasers with logic puzzles, trickier maths conundrums and some slightly fussy symbol-matching ones. There’s a couple that I simply didn’t quite grasp, but was able to brute force, and one that would hitch and freeze the game on PS4 for a couple seconds when changing variables, which is something that can hopefully be patched. A few other minor rough edges were more than made up for by an excellent use of a Windows bundled classic.
As with the original game, you’re advised to play with a pen and paper nearby to take notes, decode ciphers and figure out clues. It’s solid advice and really helps at several points so you’re not getting in a muddle while tracking back and forth between clues and wherever you’re inputting the puzzle solution.
Just as before, one of the greatest things about this game is being able to play in co-op. There’s support for split-screen play, as well as online play, which is excellently cross-platform. We stuck with local co-op for our playthrough and it really helps to capture some of the feel of a real world escape room in video game form.
Split screen is also a bit of a cheat mode at times, since you can have one person looking at the clues or ciphers on one side of the screen while the other inputs the answers. Still, co-op in general is a fantastic way to enjoy this game.
Escape Academy: Escape from Anti-Escape Island is a fantastic DLC with another two and a half hours of brain-teasing fun. It’s an absolute no-brainer for anyone that enjoyed the main game.