Palindrome Syndrome: Escape Room
Developer: mc2games | Publisher: mc2games | Release Date: 2020 | Genre: Adventure / Indie | Website: N/A | Purchase: Steam
Palindrome Syndrome is not the first game featuring an amnesiac protagonist waking up alone aboard some sort of spaceship. However, instead of the usual malevolent artificial intelligence or mutated crew-members, this time you are met with silence. It is clear that something went very wrong somewhere, but for once, the fate of the universe doesn’t seem to be hanging in the balance.
What Palindrome Syndrome lacks in monsters and jump scares it more than makes up for in puzzles. From the moment your character wakes up in the cryogenic room they are confronted by a series of puzzles that need to be solved. As is made very clear by the title of the game, it draws a lot of inspiration from escape rooms. Instead of anything supernatural or obscure the puzzles in PS: ER are all based on logic, but that doesn’t mean that they are easy. There were a few times that we were stumped by a puzzle only to discover that we’ve been overthinking the solution, but for the most part, they are very satisfying to solve.
Palindrome Syndrome is viewed in the first person and everything you need is usually located in your immediate environment, so there is never any need for backtracking. Some of the puzzles are linked, so you will only be able to solve certain puzzles after completing others. The game does indicate when you are lacking something to solve a puzzle, which means you won’t waste time attempting to figure it out. This is quite useful as unlike other games you won’t find a lot of hints in PS: ER. Sometimes puzzles can seem more complicated or daunting than what they really are, but typically it didn’t take us too long to figure out what is expected from us.
Visually PS: ER is a decent looking game although it is a little light on graphical options. Players can only choose from four different visual presets, Low, Medium, High, and Ultra with the only other option being the resolution. It’s not a very long game either as the environments only consist of the aforementioned cryogenic room, a biolaboratory, break room, office, techlab, and infirmary. All of the environments have a very clean, sterile look to them, which fits in with the science fiction theme. The lack of visual clutter also makes it easier to focus on solving the puzzles.
The game features a couple of atmospheric tracks, but the way in which these cut off abruptly when moving between rooms sounds a little odd. The sound effects are decent, but the voice acting sounds a little stiff. However, since this is a game created by a small indie studio, we weren’t exactly expecting Hollywood caliber voice acting. The game does allow players to adjust the volume separately for the music, ambiance, sound effects, and voices or simply change the master level. The controls are standard first-person fare, but the game can be played with either a keyboard and mouse or a controller. It’s also nice to see that players can rebind all the keys and that the option to invert the “Look” axis is included as this is something that is often overlooked. Apart from moving around and looking at things players can open their inventory and diary or click on the clearly marked interactive spots to work on the puzzles.
Even with the few puzzles that caused us to scratch our heads, it only took about three hours to complete Palindrome Syndrome: Escape Room. The game doesn’t have a lot of replay value either as players will get 100% of the Steam Achievements along the way. It is interesting to uncover more about your character and the events on the ship through notes and messages, but the ending still managed to catch us off guard. Overall, we enjoyed our time with PS: ER, but would have loved to see a few more rooms. It is also a solo experience unless you cram in a few friends or family members around your desk to assist with the puzzles as with real escape rooms. The slow pace and lack of action elements mean this is not a game for adrenaline junkies, but anyone looking for a thought-provoking and intelligent mental workout will enjoy PS: ER.
*Review based on version 1.5.0 of the game.