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Escape Academy DLC proves summer vacation isn't just for slacking off

This satisfying tropical adventure ramps up the difficulty.

iam8bit

Out of the many great games of 2022, one of the most underrated is Escape Academy. The game manages to pull off feeling like a real-life escape room that requires you to solve challenging puzzles and work with a friend. Developer Coin Crew Games has just released the first DLC for the game, Escape from Anti-Escape Island, which sends you on a summer vacation gone wrong. But if you think you mastered the base game, then this DLC will be a wake-up call in the best way possible.

Puzzle master —Throughout the 13 puzzles in the base game of Escape Academy, I never once used a hint. This is something I am pretty proud of, as I consider myself a puzzle person. There were so challenging rooms and some close calls, but I never hit that hint button.

The five new escape rooms ramp up the difficulty. iam8bit

Ever since finishing Escape Academy I have felt a hole, the co-op puzzle solving is unlike any other game. So when the DLC was announced, I was ecstatic.

Upon downloading the DLC and starting the game I launched into the first new room. I was on a plane with the headmaster of my school and a fellow classmate. Our summer vacation was supposed to be relaxing but our plane was hit by a missile and we were now plummeting. Within minutes I found myself against a wall with no idea how to move forward. I needed a hint.

This may sound a bit intense for those hoping to be eased back into Escape Academy, but the game does not wait for you to get re-acquainted. Instead, it throws you head first into more difficult puzzles than you may be used to facing. Instead of feeling dejected, I felt excited. Anti-Escape Academy, the first of three DLC packs for Escape Academy, feels like the developers have taken the training wheels off and are working to their full potential.

Escape Academy uses a difficulty ranking system that ranges from one to five that explains how hard every level in the game is. In the entirety of the base game players only encounter two level 4 rooms and one level 5 room. Escape From Anti-Escape Island has five new levels to tackle, one of which is level three, two are level four, and the remaining two are level five. If you played the base game and thought that you needed a real challenge, or enjoyed the wonderful twists of the final puzzle, then these new levels have everything you will want.

The plot thickens — However, much like the base game, the puzzles are only half the joy of playing Escape Academy. Throughout the first year at the school, you meet several teachers and other students, as well as learn that there is a larger story going on in the world. You are a member of an elite school of escape artists, who love all things escape.

The new DLC expands on the story and characters of Escape Academy, which are just as interesting as the complex puzzles.iam8bit

However, the school has a rival, the anti-escape scientists. These logic-loving people despise your escape artist ways. While the base game never dives fully into this conflict, the new DLC sends you directly into enemy territory.

At the head of the Anti-Escapists is Doctor Liz Nemeth, who is a charming megalomaniac to watch monologue. The Island you happen to crash land on is the headquarters of your enemies, and each escape room sends you through a varied list of locations that meld the evil scientist aesthetic with tropical summer vacation. A highlight is the juice bar level which is filled with festive decorations as well as anti-escape posters and slogans.

Escape from Anti-Escape Island is a challenging but entertaining addition to an already fantastic co-op puzzle game. One that proves now is the best time to take a crack at its puzzles since the developers seem to just be getting started with what they can think up for players to tackle next.

Escape Academy: Escape from Anti-Escape Island is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series consoles, and PC.

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