MDA Analysis — “I want to use the restroom!”

This game is a very, very classic room escape game (in flash…!), which came out around 16 years ago in China. Like every typical room escape game, The mechanics of this game essentially goes like this:

a series of intricate puzzles that multiple people must solve while racing against time. The puzzles are supposed to work in a progression. For example, you find a key that opens a drawer, and inside the drawer is a clue that leads to a puzzle. Solving the first puzzle leads to another puzzle, which leads to another, which may lead you to another room and another set of puzzles, and so on and so forth until you solve them all. By Alex Abad-Santos

What’s different is that this is a single-player room escape game, which means that all puzzles, clues and the relationships needs to be figured out by the player only.

In my opinion, the dynamics and the aesthetics in this kind of games complement each other. Take the discovery elements as an example. As the discovery elements of an escape room are at the heart of their design, players typically start outside of a closed door and get excited in anticipation before the door opens. And as they explore the space and uncover clues and secrets, they can open spaces of even more secrets. For example, when clicking on the computer, players can see the number “0602”, and players need to figure out whether this number is meaningful or not (okay the answer is so apparent!), and keep in mind in case needed. Smaller reveals throughout the game experience can definitely improve players’ fun of discovery.

Another example would be the challenges. Apparently this kind of game is full of obstacles, and that’s exactly the reason why puzzle-lovers would go crazy about the various puzzle games. The hidden clues and some mini puzzles in this game would add up to the dimensions of challenge, and tackling these would bring players even more fun.

The last example would be narrative. Although other room escape games such as Myst, What Remains of Edith Finch (pretty recent on Switch) would have exquisite scenes and rich narrative contents, this 16-year-old classic game, on the other hand, owns a somewhat creepy, simple, but attractive story — the player wakes up at his/her friends’ place, only to find that the door to the restroom is closed. He/She needs to try to open the door because this need is so urgent…

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