Just when you thought it was safe…

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Safecracker is an intriguing collection of puzzles and clue searches, all intertwined together and layered prettier than a Dorothy Hammil haircut.

In this first-person solve-em-up, you are left without any intro or other preparation and, in the spirit of games like ‘Hacker’, you are thrown into the game running (actually, in this case, standing in a phone booth with the phone ringing, but you get the idea). After you answer the phone (I never dared to not answer the phone), you are given your instructions (which you had better pay attention to) and off you go. This is a good way to go about starting the game, as not knowing exactly what you are doing or why you are here does add to the intrigue and challenge. Besides I can’t think of any kind of intro that wouldn’t ruin the quirky ending, in which all answers are, if not revealed, then implied.

When you follow the initial instructions and gain entry into the building, you discover that your task is not to crack just one safe, as you might have inferred from the title. No, you are wandering through the offices of a novelty safe company! The company boasts pleasant, nicely furnished offices with adequate rest room facilities and amenities such as a sick room, an unusual area to Americans like me.

The safes are at varying levels of complexity, requiring knowledge, insight or certain objects that are to be found in, you guessed it, other safes. None of the special knowledge is absolutely required, because it can be found somewhere else in the building. For example, one safe has instructions on it in Braille. A player might already know Braille and read the instructions, deduce what the instructions are solving it as if it were a cryptogram (difficult, but possible), or find the key to the Braille alphabet which is hidden in some file or book or drawer somewhere else in the house. Once you have it open, you’ll find it to have keys or clues to opening other safes, or even your ultimate objective.

Now, there are a few safes that repeat the themes of other safes, and if there were a lot of them like that it would get boring. But, like I said, it’s only a few, so they are quickly forgotten amid the great scenery and cool soundtrack, nearly a different song for each room. The music is one of the coolest features.

Another feature that I liked was a nifty little time saver. When you return to a safe you have already opened, it says "Safe Cracked" across the top of the screen, and won’t let you open it again. This is a good double-check when you start to lose track of which safes you’ve done, but beware: it won’t let you back in even if you want, so if you didn’t take something out of it the first time you will never have it.

But if you take everything in a safe that is not nailed down once you crack it, as if any good game player wouldn’t, then you won’t have a problem. The game also has a "partial" setting for 3D graphics, so you can still play the game if you don’t quite have a top-of-the-line computer.

The guys at DayDream (the game’s developer) finally found a North American distributor for Safecracker in the form of PXL computers/clickBOOM. I’m sure everyone on this side of the Atlantic will appreciate the fine look of this game featuring good music, great artwork and devious puzzles. The total package makes Safecracker the right combination for game players.


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