"The game is definitely tailored towards a hardcore audience, but it’s got a level of charm to it that ought to entice more casual gamers as well."
Late last month you might have caught my preview of Mechanic Escape, the upcoming indie platformer from Slak Games. In the preview I praised the game’s art style, animations and presentation, while challenging its controls and level trigger mechanics just a bit. Well, I’ve had an opportunity to play though the full game for review and I’m delighted to inform you that a lot of the problems I discussed in my preview have been alleviated. Mechanic Escape is pure fun, pitting players against a wide range of perilous obstacles that, when touched, will result in instant death. The game is definitely tailored towards a hardcore audience, but it’s got a level of charm to it that ought to entice more casual gamers as well.
Mechanic Escape features five worlds, each with 20 levels. Each world presents a different aesthetic and atmosphere in addition to ramping up the difficulty. Even seasoned platformers will run into their fair share of challenging segments. So, expect death. It’s bound to happen eventually, and it’s honestly a reality of games like this. Dying immediately ports the player back to the beginning of the level, and while this might sound unforgiving it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Mechanic Escape is best when it’s played at a frantic pace, and each death offers a bit more level familiarity, allowing players to hop through the areas they’ve already explored and discover new territory with each and every try. For levels where death runs rampant (trust me, there are more than a few of those) I found myself out running my frustration and instead embracing the exhilaration of its speedy gameplay, feeling accomplished as I leapt through areas that had once confounded me with their difficulty. Of course, it’s easy to draw comparisons between Mechanic Escape and Super Meat Boy in this regard, but Mechanic Escape’s floaty jumping controls offered me a bit more time to correct my trajectory, making this a tad more forgiving… especially in the later stages.
"The real test lies in Mechanic Escape’s metagame, which challenges players to return to previous stages in search of collectables and costume unlocks."
While the main game itself is a challenge, most players will be able make it through all of the levels with enough effort. The real test lies in Mechanic Escape’s metagame, which challenges players to return to previous stages in search of collectables and costume unlocks while pitting them up against an ever present level timer which defies you to beat your best logged score. This alone ought to be enough to have completionists foaming at the mouth, and I can say that it certainly rubbed me the right way. I haven’t been able to collect everything in the game yet, but even as I type this I feel the need to go back and try to gather up as much as I can. With all this talk of collectables and logged level times I must admit I was a bit disappointed to see that there wasn’t a leaderboard, which would definitely add a new level of competition and longevity to the game, but even without these additions Slak has released a solid experience that ought to keep platforming fans at bay for quite some time.
"Mechanic Escape does a good job easing you into the chase and offered me plenty of time to prepare before a boss began to hunt me throughout the level."
The game’s presentation has improved since the preview build I saw a couple of weeks ago. The levels featured in the full game feel more fleshed out and complete than some of the ones presented in the demo that I played last month. The problems that I had with non-responsive level triggers have also been fixed, which is a godsend. It’s now an absolute blast to rocket through the world in cannons, beam through wires and swing from ropes and poles. Things are responsive and fast, allowing for twitch reactions and comfortable control, especially with a gamepad. I played a bit with the keyboard layout as well, but the game does feel much better when paired with a wired Xbox 360 controller.
The game’s enemies are still as thrilling to avoid as they were in the demo. Mechanic Escape does a good job easing you into the chase and offered me plenty of time to prepare before a boss began to hunt me throughout the level. As you progress through the world these monsters become more difficult to avoid, firing a variety of lasers, missiles and various other projectiles at poor Mech adding to the difficulty and forcing the player to fly through the levels as quickly as possible. The game does a fantastic job at alerting players of dangers through its superb level design, art style and wonderful sound effects. I wish there was a bit more variety with the in game music as it does get a bit repetitive, but that’s a small point to nitpick when the game does so many other things right. The in-game tutorials are short and brilliant and can be looked at easily, even on the fly, allowing players to get necessary information at a glance without breaking the game’s swift pace.
"The game ends up being a cool combination of Super Meat Boy’s insane difficulty and Rayman’s vibrant art style and replayability."
Mechanic Escape is a worthy entry that will definitely stand out in the over-saturated platforming category. Its sharp graphics, great level design, and swift pace ensure that fans of the genre won’t be bored, while its slick approach to collectables and time trials will offer up a reason to keep coming back. The game ends up being a cool combination of Super Meat Boy’s insane difficulty and Rayman’s vibrant art style and replayability. In spite of limited online options and no leader board I still found myself coming back. It was easy for me to get lost in the world and its charm, and if you’re a fan of the genre I’m sure it will have a similar effect on you.
Review by: Palmer Sturman | Reviewed on: PC