The thing about escape rooms is that, when you’re in one, you suddenly realise how undemanding most videogame puzzles are – and who among your friend group has more smarts than expected. The unique nature of collaborative puzzling has seen escape rooms become something of a phenomenon over the last decade, and Escape First Alchemist is the latest and greatest translation of the experience from genre specialists OnSkull Games.

You and your buddies play as the apprentices of the ingenious sorcerer-alchemist Trismegistus, who’s clearly not all that brainy because he’s managed to trap himself, and you, in a puzzling prison of his own making. The game riffs on the ancient art of alchemy, with a setting inspired by real-world alchemical workshops, asking players to discover ingredients and come up with new potion recipes that will give you an edge over Trismegistus’ trappings.

The puzzles here range from the more casual and observational to brainbox-only logic twisters, but what they all share is a collaborative aspect. You’ll find Escape First Alchemist a most rewarding time with friends to work-through the clues and help you discover artifacts, clues, and put up with Trismegistus – who may be trapped, but will constantly offer his opinions on how you’re doing (whether you welcome it or not).

Up to four players can take part in an online session on Escape First Alchemist, and once you’ve got the basics down you can even choose to compete rather than collaborate. Working out riddles as a team is all well and good, but where’s the bragging rights there?

Whether you’re a mastermind or a puzzling neophyte Escape First Alchemist has a difficulty curve that you’ll find a place on, and much of the joy here is in teaming up to solve challenges that may at first seem inscrutable.

Mixing alchemical concoctions in the lab of Escape First Alchemist.

(Image credit: OnSkull Games)

And who doesn’t want to be an alchemist for a while, brewing up potions from gorgeously realised recipes and finding new secrets tucked-away in every nook-and-cranny of the lab. Indeed many of the arcane formulae and weird objects you’ll find give a unique insight into the mind of the one who’s got you into this fine mess, but there’s that thrill of searching for the most elusive secret of all and finding out who has that alchemical instinct: who knows if you’re going to get gold until the ingredients are mixed together.

Merge your minds into a whole greater than the sum of its parts, split up to tackle tasks separately, or focus your attention on the one key puzzle that might unlock everything else. And once you’re used to the white-hot heat of the alchemical lab, race your friends to finish rooms and find out who is the greatest alchemical apprentice.

The prologue of Escape First Alchemist is available on Steam now, and gives a taster of the trials that await in the full version, released on March 2. Things remain bubbling over nicely at OnSkull and, if you want to keep up with all the things happening with Escape First Alchemist, join their communities on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Discord.

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