Review: The Guest – Escape the Room(s), but Why?

room

Late last month, Allahweh reviewed and recorded a video of The Guest from publisher 505 Games (How to Survive, Portal Knights, Payday 2, ADR1FT, Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons, and more) and Madrid-based developer Team Gotham (Cooking Time). I was interested in the game too, so I thought I’d take a look.

The Guest is a variation on the popular escape the room genre – you’re escaping a series of rooms in this one, though. You play Dr. Evgeuni Leonov, who finds himself at the Oak Wood Hotel in Belmont, MA in October 1986. He’s traveled all the way from Volgograd in order to present his findings at a Boston conference. The game was created in Unity and is gorgeous on the ultra setting; the dynamic lighting looks great, and my favorite thing was the pitter-patter of rain on the windows. It was a little difficult to find a brightness level that worked for me, however. The music is subtle and appropriate, and I really liked the song that can be played on the record player. There is little voice acting, but what’s there is effective and sounds good. Also, a note – this may look like a horror game from screenshots, but it’s not – there’s nothing scary here, and no jump scares.

There are a few inventory-based puzzles, but a lot of the puzzles are of the variety that are separated from the game world, in the vein of The 7th Guest. Whether or not you’ll like it depends on how easily frustrated you are, and how much time you’re willing to spend thinking about a puzzle. Some of them are very satisfying to solve for yourself, but some of them forced me to seek out a walkthrough if I didn’t want to tear my hair out. It’s also important to note that if you’re deaf, tone deaf, or otherwise hard of hearing, there is an audio based puzzle that you won’t be able to look up a walkthrough for because it randomizes itself. This was frustrating for me (someone without hearing issues) because the tones that you’re listening for can be extremely similar. Browsing through the Steam forums showed that quite a few gamers had to request a refund because of this puzzle. There’s also a point in the game that has a lot of flashing lights, for readers who are photosensitive.

The story is also severely lacking. At the beginning it’s promising, but by the time you finish it, you’re left with a lot more questions than answers. Spoiler section (highlight for some of the questions I had at the end): who is The State? What do they want with scientists? What kind of work does Dr. Leonov do? Who was leaving the helpful notes? Why even build a fake hotel room to test people? What do those pills do? Etc, etc. It’s not a satisfying conclusion by any means, which is a bit frustrating considering how well it starts out.

There are twenty Steam achievements. It took me two hours to finish the game, with the important caveat that I looked at the forums and walkthroughs when I got stuck. Overall, I recommend this to fans of the genre (it’s an excellent, highly-polished escape-the-room), but I personally didn’t gel with it at all. Also, if you’re looking for a satisfying story, don’t bother.

Score: C

You can get the game on Steam for $9.99. Check out the official site, Team Gotham Facebook, Team Gotham Twitter, 505 Games Facebook, and 505 Games Twitter.

[Disclaimer: A code was provided for me to review this game.]

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5 thoughts on “Review: The Guest – Escape the Room(s), but Why?

  1. Thanks I was going to purchase this game, but thanks to the demo not working I couldn’t anyway. I am glad therefore that I then read your review, as I am hard of hearing and can’t pick up ‘directional sound’ which I have a feeling this puzzle would have been based on. It annoys me that game developers don’t accommodate for people with sensory disabilities, I mean there are hundreds of other puzzle games that have successfully come to market catering for all!

    • I’m so glad the review was helpful, Adele! It is annoying, as the puzzle could have also had a visual component, or even not be randomized so that someone could look up a walkthrough if they had to.

  2. I rated the game a bit higher, myself, but I agree ultimately having beaten it and taken a more in-depth look at it again after having done so, that the reasons to revisit it are low (unlike Myst, or something, where there’s a lot more content to be had that you can miss, but still finish the game). It felt that ultimately, a lot of story was presented, but then glossed over and never revisited, which made it feel incomplete in some ways. However, the puzzles were put together well, so that’s a plus for the game, but other than that, I’m not sure that $10 would be worth the purchase.

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