How Adventure Games Saved My Life From Eternal Prison | Instant News

A photo of a door handle, hair clip, and scissors, beautifully laid out on a toilet seat.

Photo: my box

Warning: this title may be a little excessive. But the adventure game certainly saved my afternoon, and some great embarrassment. Because earlier this week, I found myself locked in my bathroom, with no sensible means of rescue. Then immediately fell back on 40 years of adventure gaming, to make my heroic escape good.

I’ve loved adventure games since I could read. In fact, they partially taught me to read. The first computer game I played (after, indeed, Pong) was a text adventure on my dad’s Spectrum 48K. To this day, I still read the word “exam” which means “to see”. Solving problems based on genre batshit logic has been programmed into me for the last four decades. But it was only this week when all this training proved to be so important.

My wife, though holy, broke our bathroom door handle. Like, clean up. On the outside of the door there was only the hole where the handle should have been. However, on the inside another part of the mechanism remains, and this is what lulled me into stupidly closing the door so I could… sit quietly.

This mid-morning constitution is complete, with a newfound spring in my stride, I’m ready to take on the world. But finding my available worlds suddenly became very limited. I’m stuck, the door handle is useless, the door is tightly shut. Which is awkward.

Close-up of bathroom door, with missing door handle.

Photo: my box

More importantly, I didn’t bring my phone with me. Yes, it is me know. What kind of blobs can shit read without a phone? This type. My wife came out, I was in the third floor bathroom in our attic, and the fall out of the window was completely lethal. Surely I will die? Or worse, miss me my box shift.

But do I scream out the window like a poor victim Rampage? No, I didn’t. Instead, I rummage through inventory items.

I’d like to know that this isn’t the first time I’ve applied my long-acquired point and click skills in real life. I remember the time as a student when I replaced the stalemate back door of our rented hut with just a bread knife and scissors. (We have found our bad owner has stuck on the previous one. And yes, we has done change rental accommodation keys. Ha.)

I am truly proud of the calmness I felt during my recent predicament. With a coolness that belied my normally frantic and frantic mind, I simply scanned the room for useful items. The first two things I saw were hair clips, and—again after many years—scissors. Not the same. If only. But with this in my inventory (hand), I got to work.

I think the best course of action is to remove the door handle. I’ve obviously tried just forcing the door open, but hearing the sound of cracking wood, I realized that I was just going to break through the door frame, and that would be something else. I tucked the idea in my back pocket, knowing if I needed to, I could just get out of the Hulk, but with more explanation to go. Instead, I USED [scissors] ON [screw].

Several scissors poked out of the bathroom door, the doorknob coming off and dangling below.

Photo: my box

It’s funny how this action now reminds me so much more of the mobile space escape puzzle, than the traditional point-and-click graphics that have marked my entire life. From Sierra’s earliest parser interface, to the dying embers of LucasArts’ glorious 2D cursor-based adventure, these are highlights of my gaming childhood. I’ve stuck with the genre through good times and bad, but at the same time noticed another phenomenon: All new genres are destined to be adventure games.

Take the hidden object game. Remember that madness? Well, play with any modern examples and you’d be surprised how they evolved (if you ignore the cladogenesis that gives us all that follows Hidden People). Over the years they started adding more narrative, more moments in between screen hunts, then puzzles, inventory, dialogue…

The same has happened with room escape games. Where they started with Flash-based static screens, asking you to find hidden codes and solve a convoluted chain of puzzles to find keys, recently added more narrative objectives, characters, more open inventory with persistent items.

Meaning, it’s only a matter of time before the battle royale starts offering dialogue options, or having you poke the key from the other side of the door with a pencil, catching it on a piece of newspaper that slides through a fairly wide space. under.

Screenshot of A Day Of The Tentacle Remastered, with Laverne dangling from a tree, confronting purple tentacles in a butterfly net.

Screenshot: LucasArts

Like I said before you distracted me, the act of removing the screws with something other than a screwdriver is now much quicker reminiscent of a number of room escapes I’ve played with. Which is appropriate, given the situation. Frankly, at this point, anyone still using a screwdriver for screws is being obscure.

The problem with pointy shears for removing screws is that they don’t have the light touch of a screwdriver, and are therefore much more prone to pushing them deep into the hole. This is where the hair clip comes in, which I’ve unscrewed, to use the flat metal tip to keep the screw going.

This is the next moment that feels so adventure games. I didn’t delete all four. You don’t need to remove all four, be it the painting or the AC tunnel cover. Take out three, then let them spin and dangle on the fourth. This is done, the cylindrical hole in the door is revealed.

I admit, I’m not the smartest of Andys. I rarely put Y in DIY. Fortunately, my wife is a much more competent human being than I am, and she takes care of this aspect of maturity. So I don’t, I’m ashamed to say, know exactly how doorknobs work. They just did it, right? Like microwaves and daytime soap operas, they’re not ours for a reason. But after sticking my finger in the hole, I realized that this was a whole new puzzle.

I won’t drag it out any further. I closed the scissor, inserted it into the square hole in the mechanism still trapped in the door frame, and twisted it to pull the latch. AND I AM FREE.


OK, so I was an idiot shutting myself into the bathroom with a broken door. I knew it was broken, but forgot at the time. But undeniably, I found myself calmly returning to video game instincts at that point. Not because the situations or choices were interesting or unique, but more because I assumed it would work, because, you know, that’s always the case in adventure games.

I’m pretty much ready for anything now. You need a tiny sweater for the next 200 years? I have you. Want me to pretend to be a man with a mustache, without growing a mustache? So easy. Just don’t ask me to sneak past the ominous goat.


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