Avoid traps, tricks and a lurking ghost to find your way to freedom!
I Can't Escape is a horror-themed maze game with procedural generation. As you can probably guess, your task is to escape the maze... which is much easier said than done.
There are a number of obstacles you'll have to avoid if you want a chance to make if out. The floor contains pits - both open and covered - that drop you down one level. The walls aren't always what they appear to be either; some contain hidden paths as well as cryptic markings. The doors are also tricky, with some being locked, others apparently one-way, and several are rigged to open a pit at your feet.
Traps aren't your only problem, though. A ghostly entity roams the maze, and contact with it sends you further down. The deeper you go, the darker the maze gets, making it harder to see the traps. The music and ambient noises likewise increase in intensity farther down, making it harder for you to stay calm and focused. This all combines to make it ever more likely you'll descend deeper until you wind up in a cage, unable to escape (thus the title).
Aesthetically, I really like this game. The low-res dungeon and movement hearken back to the days of classic dungeon crawlers (which were notorious for getting lost in without careful mapping by hand), and the audio provides an increasing tension. While there is a monster, it doesn't seem to have any animation and even close up isn't horrific, as this game doesn't resort to jump scares to provide an unsettling atmosphere. Often, you'll only catch a glimpse of the monster lurking just off in the distance as it fades into the darkness, which is perhaps more effective at causing you worry in the long run.
While I absolutely love the atmosphere of this title, there's a number of things I'm not too keen on. For starters, let's talk about those doors and the mysterious keys you find in the maze. All the doors look exactly the same, but some doors will not open AT ALL. Other doors seemingly open without need of a key, leading me to believe that the keys are just red herrings. As you can't tell one door from another, the only way to be certain if you can open one is by trying it - which runs the risk of activating a pit.
After the stream, I found a great deal of information regarding how you go about actually escaping... and it's in no way intuitive. Without spoiling the details, let me just say that someone spent a long time essentially bumping against every wall until they finally figured out what to do, because it doesn't follow any course of logic. Making it this hard to figure out is arguably worse than not having a way to win at all, and would've been less work to design.
That said, I Can't Escape is a tense and thrilling experience oozing with atmosphere.