I know it’s a stretch, but let’s pretend the world has gone to hell and is falling apart, and you’re just trying to get by in this nightmarish landscape. That’s the premise for Don’t Escape: 4 Days in a Wasteland, an upcoming point-and-click adventure with a retro pixel art style from indie developer scriptwelder. The game gets its name from the original Flash series, which itself inverted the popular room escape genre… instead of trying to get out, you were trying to find ways to keep yourself safely in, ranging from reasons like a zombie apocalypse to lycanthropy. (Personally, I think it would have been MUCH scarier if there had been an installment about trying to stay in your room and avoid people your roommates had over. OooOOoo!)
This time around, the game stars you as a lone man after a calamity has reduced the world to ruin. After a disturbing nightmare one evening, you wake up to spot danger on the horizon, and you realize what you thought was a bad dream was actually a very real threat you’re going to have to figure out how to protect yourself from before nightfall. It might be a toxic cloud, giant insects, intense temperatures… whatever it is, you’ll need to explore the surrounding area, gathering items and solving puzzles, and figure out what you need that makes the most sense when it comes to dealing with whatever you’re facing. Those iron bars might keep huge spiders at bay, for instance, but probably won’t do much for sub-zero temperatures. The neat part is that several chapters have multiple potential scenarios to deal with, so replaying will give you a somewhat different experience than you had the first time.
The other catch is that while each of the game’s multiple chapters has you dealing with a different incoming challenge, you have limited time in which to do so. Each chapter starts you out with a new clock, and things like traveling or certain actions deducts a set amount of time from it. Just wandering around and exploring or talking to people won’t advance the timer, but say you want to build a bridge… that might take you an hour, or a little less if someone else is helping you. Or maybe you want to drive a half hour across the map to search for something to solve that one puzzle you’re stuck on at the gas station. Each time you’re about to do something that will deduct from your precious clock, the game will warn you with how long it will take and prompt you to continue. When the clock runs out, or you feel like you’re ready and end the day yourself, night will fall and you’ll see whether your preparations were enough to let you survive to the next chapter.
It might sound stressful or restrictive, but it’s actually not. (Or at least, we’re working on making sure it’s not!) Strategically managing your time is a big part of the gameplay, and the intention here is to make you think about your actions and preserve the sort of tense atmosphere you’d expect if you were facing potential death without making you frustrated as a player due to constraints… after all, games are supposed to be, well, fun. As the game goes on, you’ll gain a better knowledge of where specific supplies are around the map so you won’t need to waste time traveling around looking for them, and the places you leave items, as well as certain things you do, will persist from one chapter to the next so you can plan for the future. You may want to spend more time in the beginning repairing equipment or building pathways so that you don’t have to scramble later on, or cart a bunch of extra supplies back to your hideout in case you need them later in another chapter. And hey, even if you do die, the game allows you to save anywhere you like, in multiple slots, so it’s easy to turn back the clock if you think you should have tried something else.
Of course, it’s not all rigging electrical pumps and breaking into houses. Don’t Escape: 4 Days in a Wasteland still has a story to follow. In addition to figuring out what’s going on with these prophetic dreams that keep forewarning you, you’ll wind up teaming up with a number of different characters in your quest to survive. Turns out even after the end of the world, rumors are still flying, and you’re soon following the trail of a seemingly impossible tale that nevertheless represents your only hope for long term survival. Some of the choices you’ll make will have long term consequences for yourself and your rag-tag group of survivors, but hey, nobody ever said the wasteland was forgiving. It’s like how it ain’t easy being green, but with more screaming, crying, and blood.
We’ll be posting more news about the game in the coming months, though if you want some sneak peeks and progress GIFs, be sure to follow scriptwelder on Twitter. In the meantime, if you want to get a taste of scriptwelder’s style, you can play the original short free Flash trilogy online right now. Don’t Escape takes place in a remote cabin where you’re trying to contain yourself due to a curse coming at nightfall. Don’t Escape 2 drops you into the middle of a zombie apocalypse where your friend has been bitten and a horde is on the way. And Don’t Escape 3 sees you waking up aboard a seemingly empty space station with no memory and a dangerous secret. Watch for Don’t Escape: 4 Days in a Wasteland when it releases in 2018, and wishlist the game on Steam now to be notified of its release!