Review: Sewer Escape

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Apple has recently begun to celebrate the fact that five years of applications and games have cranked through the App Store for iOS devices. During that five year period numerous input methods have been created, discovered, lambasted or duplicated. Obviously touch and swipe are the easiest to understand and master so when a new game comes out that uses both, there should be something that compels a gamer to want to continue playing. Bringing one of its Flash-based games to iOS, WitchHut has released a visually rich and sonically pleasing touch-based joy, Sewer Escape.

The premise is simple: three hamsters have escaped an evil scientist’s laboratory after drinking a suspicious toxic-looking sludge which increases their mental capacity. An initial launch mechanism shoots a hamster up into the air and tapping continues the skyward propulsion. Swiping gold coins along the way allows for additional boosts to enhance the launch and continue the potential escape. Two main things work against a full on escape: gravity (naturally) and environmental items along the trajectory of the escape path.

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The escape traverses through five stages: underground, sewer, big city, blue sky and deep space. Along the way various pipes, balconies, and clouds impede the upward climb. Tapping will keep the hamster moving up, but every once in a while a pipe or balcony is directly above the escaping hamster which results in bouncing back down out of reach, ending the run. As mentioned above, gold coins litter the upward path which can be collected by either swiping across the coins or tapping the hamster into the path of the coins. Coins can be saved up and then spent on a wide array of upgrades.

Some of the upgrades include the ability to save a run by not allowing the hamster to fall below the screen. Other upgrades increase the time a buff stays in effect. Buffs vary from inflating like a helium balloon, to soaring upward like a rocket, to calmly floating in the air via more toxic sludge. One additional (and very useful) buff is a launcher that shoots farther, which then requires less initial tapping to keep the hamster moving up.

Sewer Escape is very straight forward. Very little strategy is needed to play through the game. Swipe and touch work intuitively and as expected with any iOS game these days. Where Sewer Escape shines is the level of detail and beauty the art style provides. Colors pop and flow smoothly from one stage to the next, all the while discrete details fill the background. Each run is altered slightly by randomly placed environmental differences, which adds to the challenge and fun as each run can be short or long depending on how well you’re able to maintain awareness of hazards and keep the hamster bouncing towards freedom.

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An additional shining point to Sewer Escape is the catchy music. Only one song loops throughout the menu system and gameplay, but it is a quirky, happy, chirpy piece that embodies perfectly the art style and aesthetic that the game presents. While music and art style can usually carry a game pretty far on their own, as many iOS gamers have come to expect, Sewer Escape also offers many challenges that tie to both in-game and Game Center achievements, such as fly 100 times, collect 10,000 coins, use each booster type, and so on. These achievements serve as the carrot tempting the mule forward. With each run, I quite often found myself earning one or two more achievements, and I just kept wanting to play.

While Sewer Escape may seem simple at first glance, collecting enough coins to upgrade various bonuses and boosters offers plenty of challenges and replay opportunities. Seeing such beautiful and detailed art adds to the replay and reward loop, while reaching the final frontier is another reward in and of itself at the end of the game. For a quick distraction, Sewer Escape can’t be beat.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Beautifully detailed art style
+ Fantastic music
+ In-game achievements and upgrades offer plenty of replay

Cons:
– None

Game Info:
Platform: iOS
Publisher: WitchHut
Developer: WitchHut
Release Date: 6/27/2013
Genre: Action
Age Rating: 4+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.