NEScape! (2023) [Hivemind Review]

NEScape! is a point-and-click escape game in the style of an NES game.

In-game animation: a cursor selecting books with zodiac symbols on them.
Via KHAN Games


Style of Play:

  • Point-and-click

Who is it For?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level
  • Aging gamers reliving their youth

Required Equipment: Nintendo Switch or Xbox

Recommended Team Size: 1-2

Play Time: 60 minutes, if you run out of time, you have to start from the beginning

Price: $4.99 on Switch

Booking: purchase and play at your leisure


NEScape! is a single room point-and-click escape room rendered in 8-bit.

We found ourselves locked in an old-fashioned apartment room replete with “old-timey” objects like a typewriter, a payphone, and a Caboodle. We used our control pad to browse four screens, exploring and gathering items by clicking on hotspots. Puzzles consisted of searching, making connections, watching and listening for changes, solving some time-consuming mini-games, and entering codes. Failure to finish the game within 60 minutes forces a restart.

There is no hint system, if you get stuck you should find a playthough video on YouTube to learn how to bypass a puzzle.

In-game animation: A ball navigating through a maze.
Via KHAN Games

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

I’ll admit it: I’m old enough that I had an NES growing up and it is a deep well of nostalgia. As an NES game Nescape had the basics correct: a decently high level of difficulty and frustration, and some purely visual glitchy layers and assets, to name a few. Two things I would like to have seen to add to the NES feel would be a way to control the game using a single joycon, the way an NES controller would be held, and for the manual to be more over-engineered. I don’t need something on the level of Tunic, but this manual lacked the pizazz of my youth.

As an escape room, Nescape! was surprisingly deep. It utilized some common (and typically annoying) escape room puzzles that were not made better in a digital format. But there was a wide variety of puzzle types and almost all of them were implemented very well. Apart from two moments I was stuck – one my fault and one not – the game flowed well and the next step was clear. For the price (much less than an NES game back in the day), Nescape! is a good trip down memory lane.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

I’m of two minds about this game. On one hand, it’s a string of classic escape room puzzles embedded in a disjoint room full of outdated technologies without a narrative through-line…probably not a standout offering. However, as a quintessential NES experience that captures the essence of 8-bit gaming, joys and exasperations alike, this was spot on. I quite liked it.

For me, the graphics, the music, and the high-stakes time pressure brought back happy memories of playing the old games on their own terms. They KNEW they were frustrating, they KNEW they’d stump you, and they KNEW you’d have to play them repeatedly to win. That’s the aesthetic that this game captured well, and under that light, it’s hard for me to criticize most of the individually frustrating things. The overall effect just drove me to try that much harder because that’s what the 80’s taught me to do. The only issue that exceeded nostalgic strife for me was the reliance on audio for some critical junctures in the game. 8-bit audio is ridiculous for anything other than rad music, and without a hint system, this caused almost insurmountable problems. We knew what to do, but were nearly unable to do it because of the technology.

Regardless, we enjoyed ourselves, so at $5 on the Nintendo Switch, this is a worthy evening for anyone with a mutual love of the classic NES and escape rooms.

David Spira’s Reaction

Back in 2019 I reviewed the original release of NEScape! when it was issued on an Nintendo Entertainment System cartridge.

The 2023 release is essentially the same game ported to Switch and Xbox, with some small quality of life improvements. Functionally, it remains a classic escape room in 8-bit video game form.

Back in 2019 I wrote:

“The decision to back should be simple:

  • Do you like the idea of old-school, puzzle-forward gameplay?
  • Does playing an escape game on NES hardware sound fun?
  • Do you have access to a NES?

If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, then give them your money.”

NEScape! is still the same game, but its form has changed. What was lost in the transition was the physical media of a NES cartridge and all of the nostalgia that came with it. In return, they greatly increased the accessibility of NEScape!. For a few dollars you can easily play this game without any exotic or old hardware.

So now I’ll pose a new question to you:

Do you like the idea of old-school, puzzle-forward gameplay that looks like an 8-bit Nintendo game?

Disclosure: NEScape! provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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