REVIEW: Don’t Escape: 4 Days to Survive

Jan
08

REVIEW: Don’t Escape: 4 Days to Survive

The 4th game in the series bears similar traits to its predecessors, while also offering more story and replayability. I have to wonder how it’ll all culminate, as the true ending is abrupt.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-Player
Genres: Point n Click
Developer: scriptwelder
Publisher: Armor Games Studio
Release date: 11 March, 2019

First Impressions

At first, I didn’t realize that Don’t Escape: 4 Days to Survive (DE4) was the 4th game from the DE series. The first 3 games are available as a compilation on Steam, but I’m familiar with those other entries from playing them on Kongregate. With each entry in the series, the gameplay expanded and got more complicated, though the general idea was fairly constant: travel around nearby areas, scavenging for resources and materials you can use to fend off a threat, and survive. Since the previous games were concise and free, I had to wonder whether this game would make enough changes to warrant a purchase.

Gameplay

There isn’t a drastic change in how DE4 plays in comparison to the previous titles. It’s a point and click game where you’ll have to determine the best means available in order to deal with the obstacles that cross your path. This will include gathering up supplies you find in the few places still standing and worth checking out, doing basic patchwork and puzzle solving with tools you acquire, and having to decide whether it’s worth your time to complete tasks like building a bridge or tearing down an old greenhouse. Part of me appreciates the consistency, yet I also wonder if a bit more could have been done to flesh it out and give it more novelty.

So all you need to fix a totaled truck is a wrench? Who knew.

Controls

Since DE4 is a point and click game, you’ll play it with nothing but your mouse. At times you might ‘R click’ in order to get more information on an item, but the vast majority of the time, you’ll just ‘L click’ everything. Some features are kind of fickle. You can double click in order to dash over to other parts of the screen, but if you try doing so while using an item on something, it makes you disengage with the item. What you’ll want to do is double-click to run over next to the thing you’re going to interact with, and then use the item on it.

I don’t think you could fly a helicopter much worse than crashing it into the only house for miles around. Then again, I don’t really want to try either.

Story

Taking the perspective of David, you find yourself alone in a desert, with meager items on hand and only a tent for shelter. Making your way to a small, abandoned town you’ll bear in mind the premonition you had in your nightmare, and scavenge whatever possible in order to make it through the night. Over the next few days, the threat will keep shifting, and you’ll be able to bring on allies to survive through each event as it arises. As David and his comrades come to trust one another, more information about what led to this apocalyptic event will surface, what you have to achieve in order to make it through, and eventually uncover a corporate conspiracy.

Hey, I could be harmful! You know, if I felt like it.

When I was first checking the achievements, I was a bit annoyed and confused at the idea that I’d have to replay DE4 multiple times in order to get different RNG set-ups on what threat would arise each day. Without giving away too much, there’s actually a narrative purpose behind why there’s multiple options you can encounter each day. It’s true that it doesn’t remove the need to replay what’s functionally the same areas with only minor differences a few times, but how the story is set-up provides a rationale for it. Plus, doing so will provide a true ending if you take the right steps during a playthrough, which rewards at least 2 complete playthroughs.

The world ended and civilization collapsed. Weren’t you there?

Graphics

The developer, scriptwelder, has a distinct style with their pixel graphics. I think they do quite well in creating good looking environments, effectively using light sources and shadows to build depth, and making areas that are tense and spooky. The trade off is that the characters have some detail in their attire, but have incomplete faces since they have no mouths, and wind up not being very expressive as body language can only do so much. I had a bit of difficulty noticing usable items once or twice, but most of the time it’s clear what you can pick up or interact with.

Over the river, and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go!

Sound Design

Since the situation the protagonists face includes a dying world, it’s fitting that the music for the game sounds despondent and empty. Certain songs don’t even really fit that description, as they’re composed of ambient noise that sounds desolate and haunting. It’s rather effective at matching the grim tone of the sucky situation the characters are stuck in. When you interact with certain objects, such as hammering planks together, you’ll hear an appropriate sound effect. I think all of the noises were done well enough, and I don’t remember any annoying sounds.

Thank goodness I was able to find this anti-fart spray, or else I’d really have been in trouble.

Pros

  • In the earlier DE games, I found some of the requirements to setting things up kind of fickle and obtuse. Things would have to be placed in the right place and order, there was little margin of error, and it could be really unclear what you were missing or doing wrong. There’s still some element of having to do things a certain way to make it work, but it seems better set up. For instance, to protect against the cold, you’ll need to insulate the doors and windows, and when you place the plastic covering over the window it tells you that he still needs to attach it.
  • It seemed like the tasks you were expected to complete were simplest in the first two days, with the gameplay most similar to the earlier games. The second half of the game wasn’t a large change, but they were more complex, requiring a bit more back and forth movement, as well as having specific tools on hand.

Cons

  • Although it’s interesting to find out that the entire series is considered to be part of a shared continuity, since each takes the POV of unrelated characters, it doesn’t mean very much. None of the previous characters cross paths or seemingly left any lingering effects that’d impact what happens here.
  • The events that take place are a bit over the top and untenable. I find it a bit hard to swallow.

Tips

  • I believe the gas tank is infinite, so I always refilled my truck and the gas container when convenient so that I wouldn’t have to worry about running out at a lousy time. Also, the truck has storage space in the trunk, and the bridge can be worked on a second time so you can drive over it. Barry can increase the fuel efficiency on the truck if you talk to him about it at his house.
  • As long as you’re packing up and unloading your inventory intelligently as you go back and forth from your base, the time provided is fairly generous. I wound up redoing a day or two in order to get through ordeals with 100% efficiency for a weight capacity increase, but when I had some idea of what to do, I had hours to spare. You’ll also want to make alternating saves every so often.
  • It’s not a bad idea to bring everything back to the base over the first couple of days, even if you don’t wind up needing it for the first ordeal, as it might be applicable later. Breaking down and building everything possible with the time you have is also useful.

Final Thoughts

Out of all the games made by the developer, DE4 definitely has the most meat to it, as the story unfolds further upon a playthrough in Awakened Mode. So even after you beat the game once, you have motivation to go through it again. There will be some change on what items of interest you need to focus on and use, changing things up just enough that it’s not too repetitive, while also not being so different that you have to waste time figuring out new solutions. Most of the cutscenes and dialogue you’ve already seen can either be skipped or progressed through by mashing the mouse, though it’d have been nice if there was a way to fast forward text you’d already seen. With a series like this, normally I’d suggest checking out the free versions of the earlier entries, but due to changes with Flash, I’m not positive what will happen to many games previously available. If you already were a fan of the DE games, you’ll like what’s on offer here, and I think many fans of point and click games would like it as well. It can be finished in around 10 hours, based on whether you refer to guides or are more efficient, so I’d suggest waiting for a sale before picking it up.

No, it’s burger. B-U-R-G-E-R. Sound it out.

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