Christmas Escape 2
It's that most special time of year again. Time to get on your softest, most comfortable pajamas, and make a mug of peppermint hot chocolate. A plate of little snowman-shaped cookies, perhaps? A crackling fire would be nice, accompanied by Bing Crosby crooning about white Christmases and silver bells...as you sit down, with a sigh of contentment, to play Neutral's newest holiday game, Christmas Escape 2. Ah, that most special time of year, indeed.
Christmas Escape 2 finds you contained in a strange room, some sort of combination office/laboratory/bedroom with a light sprinkling of Christmas decor. Per usual, there's no real explanation as to how you became trapped, though there are plenty of clues scattered about to help you escape; a little exploring will quickly reveal an abundance of seemingly unrelated information and items to aid (or stump) you. While the puzzles were mainly logical, I was occasionally baffled. While this was partially due to my own thick-headedness, it's also worth noting that some items are only usable after certain actions have been performed. I also at one point spent 5 minutes angrily clicking around the room before realizing that one area that I had visited a dozen times had an additional interactive component; don't be like me, kids. Click on everything.
Gameplay is classic, clean point-and-click, with a blessed lack of pixel hunting. As an extra, adorable bonus, CE2 also contains a game-within-a-game; 6 Christmas ornaments are hidden around the room, and while they will not help you escape, they will provide some additional cuteness when you finish the game.
Neutral's website technically classifies Christmas Escape 2 as a "mini room escape game." One must remember, however, that this is Neutral we're talking about, creator of some of the most outstanding room escape games to ever grace the internet; what they call "mini" might be another developer's magnum opus. And indeed, CE2 is wonderful. Though shorter and little less complex than Neutral's other games (and a bit less pretty), the game nonetheless displays the same creativity and polish. And more than the developer's other releases, CE2 displays a quirky sense of humor and sweet cheeriness that completely befits the holiday season.
Don't wait long to play Christmas Escape 2; like the snow outside, this game is seasonal and will disappear soon after St. Nick makes his rounds. Neutral's 2007 Christmas Escape game is back on their website, so I assume that next December this one will be available again as well; still, who wants to wait a year for such fun?
Cuddle up with your laptop, grab some eggnog and get ready for some gaming cheer: