Over the past six years, developer OnSkull Games has become something of a specialist in the ‘escape room’ genre. The idea is simple: you (along with several friends, in some cases) find yourself stuck in mysterious and atmospheric environments, which you must explore, prod at, and ultimately solve the puzzles therein to escape.

Developer OnSkull has always done a great job of giving that old-school escape room formula a distinct and powerful theme, such as their prolific Escape First series, where the rooms range from dank dungeons to surreal cosmic-themed spaces.

Now, the developer is taking that old-school formula deep into the (maybe make-believe) past. Escape First Alchemist throws you in among the concoctions and riddles of the eccentric alchemist Trismegistus, who’s managed to trap himself deep inside his chambers. Why should you care about the plight of this flamboyant fool? Well, you’re his apprentice for a start, but perhaps more importantly he’s trapped you and your friends in there as well, meaning that you not only have to free him but yourselves as well.

You do this by solving puzzles, brewing potions based on the beautifully presented alchemical recipes you find lying around, and inspecting your environment closely. Pick up arcane objects and inspect them in real-time to reveal their secrets, and figure out mathematical formulae on strange contraptions to progress ever-deeper into the mazey workspace of the alchemist’s brilliant–if somewhat deranged–mind.

Escape First Alchemist

(Image credit: OnSkull Games)

As if the challenge alone isn’t enough, you’ll have to contend with the disembodied voice of the alchemist accompanying you through your tribulations, mocking your failings, scorning your successes, and yet begging you to help free him (yep, he’s rather a confused man).

But if the prospect of having your puzzle-solving wits tested one-on-one against the greatest alchemist in medievaldom is a bit daunting, fret not, because you can embark on this brain-bending journey with three other friends. Merge your minds into a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts (though probably more squabbly too) to unravel this world of alchemical mysteries. Assign different puzzle-solving tasks to different members of your team, or pore over the same one together, because you never know when another person might notice or look at things in a way that you don’t.

The game has more features brewing in its flasks as well. If you’re more into the heat of competition than the collective spirit of co-op, then there’s an experimental PvP mode in the works, where you and your friends will be able to race to complete your respective puzzle rooms fastest.

Escape First Alchemist

(Image credit: OnSkull Games)

The prologue of Escape First Alchemist has been available to play free on Steam since November 2022, and you can still hop into the to get a sample of the trials that await. The full version is coming out in March. On top of all the wonderful things we mentioned above, it will eventually be available to play in VR too, which you’ll still be able to play alongside people on the flatscreen version.

There’s always something bubbling over at OnSkull, so if you want to keep up with all the things happening at the developer, join their communities on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Discord.

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