E3 06: Safecracker Hands-On Impressions

We crack the mystery of this puzzle-focused adventure game from the E3 2006 show floor.


LOS ANGELES--Have you ever thought to yourself, "Boy, I sure do love adventure games, but you know the whole thing with the constant dialogue, the never-ending character interactions, and the deep, involving plotlines? I hate that." No, of course you haven't, because if you play adventure games, these equate to roughly two-thirds of the reason why you keep coming back. However, that other third is no doubt the puzzles--the often obfuscating, frequently infuriating, but sometimes incredibly satisfying puzzles (depending on the game, of course). For the sake of argument, we'll assume you're the sort of person who would say something like the aforementioned quote, and that you value adventure game puzzling above all other factors. If this is you, then The Adventure Company has just the game for you. Safecracker is an adventure game devoid of pretense--it's a long string of purposely convoluted puzzles that doesn't have a story, any other characters other than yourself, and as a result of that, no dialogue either.

Sound confusing? It's actually pretty simple. The premise of the game is simply that an eccentric old coot (who also happens to be worth a mint) has keeled over, and left his last will and testament inside his enormous mansion, inside a safe. Of course, it's never that simple, and that safe is connected to a ridiculous series of other safes, locks, and random puzzle fodder the old man has strewn about the house. Seems the guy had a penchant for different types of safes and locks, and you, the titular safecracker, is hired on to figure out the house's trials and tribulations, and to find the safe.

Even though you'll just be in the house the entire time, it is quite large and includes a wide variety of different 2D environments to explore. Like in any adventure game of recent years, you're equipped with an inventory and an ability to detect hot spots within the environment (like clickable objects of varying sorts). The puzzles in Safecracker will run the gamut of adventure game staples, with 35 different safes to unlock (and even more puzzle pieces to put together before you can even access certain safes). For those of you who find yourselves enthralled with what the game has to offer, you'll be able to go back and play any puzzle again once you've completed the game. For those frustrated with what the game has to offer, a basic hint system will be included to keep you from getting too terribly stuck. And even better, the game takes on a fairly nonlinear structure, so you're free to roam about the house, trying to solve other puzzles if one in particular has you befuddled.

Undoubtedly some adventure game purists will scoff at the notion of an adventure game without a plot, but something about the notion of whittling down an adventure game to its core puzzle elements, while cutting off the ancillary story and dialogue components, actually sounds like it could be an entertaining change of pace. We'll be sure to bring you more on this intriguing entry into the adventure genre between now and its August release date. Stay tuned.

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