The beginning of Inescapable: No Rules, No Rescue feels very much like a Danganronpa-style death game. 11 strangers get abducted and sent to an abandoned tropical island resort where they’re forced to stay for six months. It’s all part of some twisted reality TV show where the abductees will be given €500,000 at the end of their stay. Sounds exciting right?
Sadly, for the first couple of months everything plays out incredibly slowly. The protagonist, Harrison, will spend his days getting to know the other captives but there’s nothing moving the main narrative forward. Watching mundane arguments about who should be doing the dishes doesn’t feel like it’d make for compelling TV, but then again people have been watching Big Brother for decades, so there must be some demand out there for this type of show.
Occasionally the eccentric producers of the show, Naomi and Naima, will give contestants a call or unlock a new app on their phones to spice things up a bit. Having a Wordle style minigame unlocked doesn’t really add much to the experience but some of the other reveals do shake things up a bit; at one point you’re given the ability to unlock gossip about the other contestants. As this is a visual novel, you can’t use any of this information unless the story wants you to, but it does add a bit more weight behind some cutscenes once you find out everyone’s dark secrets.
The decisions of who you hang out with in the early weeks of your stay, as well as any choices you make during any of the games you’re forced to play, will set you down drastically different story paths. Even though many of the characters play into some fairly obvious stereotypes it’s still interesting to watch how the dynamics of the group change in reaction to the various situations.
Once you reach an ending, however, there isn’t an easy way to go back to where the story branches and select a different path. Instead you’ll have to replay from the beginning and hope that the choices you make will lead to a different outcome. You can quickly skip through any previously read text but it can be frustrating when you make different choices, yet still end up with an ending that you’ve already seen.
Despite Inescapable having some similarities to visual novels and puzzle games such as Danganronpa and Zero Escape it can’t really be compared favourably to them. The narrative starts out so sluggishly that it quickly loses any tension and the handful of puzzles you get to solve are just too simple to be fun. It’s a shame as there are some interesting group dynamics but it all gets bogged down in so many pointless conversations that it quickly becomes monotonous, and the pacing saps any desire to replay for a different ending.