By Steph Cannon
I think it's safe to say that most of us can remember at some point in our lives sitting down with a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book and losing ourselves in the pages, going through all the different scenarios presented to us. The thrill of successfully selecting the correct path to victory, or conversely, discovering that one little decision had launched you into disaster, made those books addicting and enabled us to read them over and over.
INTRUDER ESCAPE is like a twisted, creepy "Choose Your Own Adventure" for adults. The premise of the game is fairly simple: try to survive while being presented with different decisions and routes, and watch it all play out. You play in a first-person perspective as a woman who arrives at a luxurious retreat to meet her boyfriend for a romantic getaway, only to find yourself the unwitting subject terrorized by a group of sadistic intruders.
It only takes a few seconds before you're faced with your first objective, and thankfully, they start you off easy. But don't let that lull you into a false sense of security - even small decisions have an impact on what happens to you. It doesn't take long for the creepiness to kick in, which leaves you with a feeling of unease right from the get-go. I played on my phone while wearing headphones, which suggests you do for the full experience, and I'm glad I did because even the slightest sound would make me jump.
One of my favorite aspects of the game is that you're only given a few seconds to make a choice, which just adds to your overall anxiety. Take too long to decide, and the game will do it for you. INTRUDER ESCAPE has a very cinematic, real-time feel to it, so it only makes sense that you'd be forced to have to think on your feet, much like you would if this was unfolding in the real world. This takes the experience of yelling at your TV when a character in a horror movie makes a dumb judgment call and gives YOU the chance to do better...or at least, that's what you'll think. Sometimes what appears as the obvious safe route is nothing but that. Fortunately, you're given the opportunity to right your wrongs and try again, or you can go all the way back to the beginning and choose differently from there to really discover the various possibilities.
Of course, if you're REALLY twisted, you could play with the intent of actually trying to kill her, which the game designers clearly have set up if that's what you want to do. For me though, as a child of the '80s who grew up on classic slasher films, it was exhilarating fun attempting to outwit the intruders. I played through all scenarios and managed to survive to the end, but not after dying multiple times and in multiple ways, some of which are truly ruthless.
And let's talk about those intruders. These people are sinister and frightening, with an obvious homage to the antagonists in "Strangers". Just the mere sight of them, along with the perfectly timed music and sound, will offer up some great jump scare opportunities.
The only drawback is that even with all the different paths and scenarios to take, the game is rather short, but with all of the re-playability it presents, this isn't a huge issue. However, it only has one chapter currently out, and promises to release more chapters in the near future that will include different settings and stories, so I can see where this could become a more time-intensive and immersive experience.
Overall, INTRUDER ESCAPE leans on the success of Netflix's "Bandersnatch", and the nostalgia of those aforementioned "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, to bring you an unnerving, fast-paced, anxiety-driven opportunity. If you've ever wanted to know what it feels like to star in your very own horror film, or if you're just looking for a fresh take on a game that will scare you while requiring you to make quick intuitive decisions that will directly affect your fate, then INTRUDER ESCAPE is definitely worth checking out.
Visit their website: https://www.intruderescape.com