Painfully difficult platformers like I Wanna be the Guy and Super Meat Boy have proven time and time again that some gamers are just gluttons for punishment. With the PC release of Mechanic Escape, developer Slak Games throws its own entry into the painfully hard, yet addicting genre. With a well-polished coat of graphics and an interesting combination of travel abilities to master, Mechanic Escape attempts to stand out from the crowded market of platformers.
Although Mechanic Escape felt a bit like a clone of the above mentioned platformers at first, it only takes a few levels to see that the game has an identity of its own. The basic premise is simple enough; get from point A to point B without dying in one of the many possible ways. Mechanic Escape keeps things interesting by incorporating enough variety in the challenges that the runaway TV faces to keep us guessing at every jump. For a game with simple mechanics (left, right, up and down), there are an impressive amount of skills that need to be mastered to reach the finish line of each level.
All the standard tropes are there; the pits to fall in, lasers that can’t be touched, gaps that require double jumps. At first, the game felt a little too familiar for its own good, but all the usual components came together in a challenging and entertaining way. With the inclusion of swinging ropes, a monster that chases players down, wall jumps, and a number of other platformer essentials, the developers went with an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ strategy in the level design. Mechanic Escape proves that with the right touch, that isn’t always a recipe for disaster.
Surprisingly, the mishmash comes together into a challenging, but cohesive final product. The variety of challenges in each level kept things feeling fresh and we were never sure what to expect around each corner. Between trying to gather all the collectibles in each level and tearing through at speeds fast enough to set a new record, players are bound to time a leap poorly and botch the run a few times before successfully reaching the finish line. Learning from deaths is what makes the game addicting and we found ourselves laughing through five or ten restarts on each level before moving on to the next. The levels feel a bit longer than those of similar games, so the absence of checkpoints might be a point of frustrations for less patient players. Mechanic Escape definitely isn’t aiming to make things easier on players though…
The early levels felt a bit more challenging than I anticipated, due to the learning curve of the game’s jump and double jump mechanic. The physics felt a bit off at first, which is never a good thing in a game that demands the kind of precision that is essential to completing the more challenging levels of Mechanic Escape. Control of the airborne runaway TV becomes more clear after a few levels of experimentation, but the learning curve may be enough to turn some players away from the game. Part of the magic of the most successful platformers is the ability to make dying fun, rather than frustrating and once we were able to wrap our heads around the physics of jumping and double jumping in the Mechanic Escape world, it was definitely able to pull off that crucial requirement.
There was little to no plot to follow throughout the puzzles, but we didn’t really feel ourselves missing one either. Sure, it would be nice to know more about why we are trying to escape, collect our friends, and dodge the ominous smoke monster; but the challenges were engaging enough to keep us from worrying about those kind of logistics.
At the end of the day, Mechanic Escape does feel familiar, but not necessarily in a bad way. The game borrows from some of the best in the genre and adds enough of its own flare to make things interesting. We’d recommend giving it a try if you’re the kind of gamer that doesn’t mind torturing yourself.
Mechanic Escape is currently available on PC.
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