Does sheltering-in-place have you climbing up the walls? A lot of folks wish they could “escape” their rooms these days. But, no matter how bored you feel, please obey the pandemic lockdown rules (for your own safety and the good of us all). You CAN, however, help virtual characters escape various rooms in Rusty Lake’s “Cube Escape” games!
All of the “Cube Escape” games are available for FREE for Android, iOS, and Steam. (Excluding Chapter 2 of Cube Escape: Paradox, the paid DLC).
Rusty Lake also has three premium (but still highly affordable) point-and-click “adventure” games — Roots, Hotel, and Paradise. Plus a spin-off game, The White Door, put out via their alternate brand, Second Maze Studios. The four premium games vary in price depending on sales and whatnot, but are usually between $1.99-3.99 USD.
Rusty Lake Games: Quick Review
While not billed as “horror” games, everything put out by Rusty Lake thus far has had a quirky-yet-creepy vibe. Robin and Maarten, Rusty Lake’s founders/developers, were heavily influenced by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. If you ever watched Twin Peaks and thought “I wish I could interact with/play with this show instead of just watching it!”… here ya go! (Note: Rusty Lake’s games have the “feeling” of Twin Peaks, but feature their own unique universe, characters, and plots).
These games will have you feeling amused-yet-uneasy, filled with dread while simultaneously delighted, challenged enough to never be bored yet not overly stressed (you can poke around and solve puzzles at your own pace), and you’ll likely still be thinking about these little games long after you’ve finished playing them.
This isn’t a sponsored post in any way (I’m actually kinda nervous about if/when the Rusty Lake peeps will see this!) and HorrorFam.com won’t get any sort of a kickback if you grab these games. I just genuinely enjoy them and most of them are FREE to play.
While we’ve been providing a wide variety of FREE STUFF to help y’all get through the months-long pandemic lockdown, no one in our core team has the know-how to create games.
So, I wanted to recommend some FREE (and/or affordable) horror-related games, even if we couldn’t create them ourselves. Rusty Lake’s wonderful series was the first that came to mind! ♥
Personally, I started with Rusty Lake: Roots as my first game in the series. It’s a great stand-alone game and a lovely place to begin. The games can be played pretty much in any order (my first play-through of all 14 games was almost completely out of order and I had a blast trying to piece the disjointed story together); however, the official/recommended play order for the games is:
- Cube Escape: Seasons
- Cube Escape: The Lake
- Cube Escape: Arles
- Cube Escape: Harvey’s Box
- Cube Escape: Case 23
- Cube Escape: The Mill
- Rusty Lake: Hotel
- Cube Escape: Birthday
- Cube Escape: Theatre
- Rusty Lake: Roots
- Cube Escape: The Cave
- Rusty Lake: Paradise
- Cube Escape: Paradox
- The White Door
I’m going to go more in-depth about the games below because I love ’em and — gosh darn it! — I wanna talk about ’em. But, if you wanna skip my gabbing, I’ll be 0% offended.
Download the Rusty Lake games for your phone or computer and have some fun. Escape the various games’ rooms, even if you’re unable to escape your own right now. They’re adorably eerie and fantastic for killing time. Cook up a tasty snack from our FREE Quarantine Cookbook and click your way through a thoroughly odd adventure!
Rusty Lake Games: Long Review (with Pics!)
You still here? Cool! Thanks for sticking around. I woulda been 0% offended if you left to go download and play the games immediately, but I’m 100% flattered that you chose to stay. 😉
My “review” can basically be boiled down to: “I love the Rusty Lake games. Go download them so I have more friends to talk to about ’em!” Soooo… This section is going to be less of a “review” (in technical terms) and more of me just gushing a little more in-depth about the series, sharing more about the game’s plots/mechanics, and sharing (mostly) spoiler-free screenshots I took with my phone.
Let’s start with Rusty Lake’s escape-the-room style games: Their “Cube Escape” series!
The “Cube Escape” Games
The “Cube Escape” games all take place in the Rusty Lake universe. They’re very similar gameplay-wise, but vastly different when it comes to settings/characters/plots.
Basically, you’ll find yourself in a room (cube) of some sort and you just kinda poke at things in said room until something happens.
Here are some screenshots I took of the first game, Cube Escape: Seasons, to give you the gist of things:
And you just kinda wander around like “Who am I? Where am I??” and look at things in your room and poke at them with your finger (or computer mouse) as you gather the information (and inventory items) you need to decipher the plot, discover yourself, solve puzzles, and escape.
You might feel unsettled, perhaps a bit paranoid (*gasp* “Did I just see someone standing outside the window?!” *clicks window* “Oh…no…I guess not. Hmm.”), even though nothing horribly unusual happens at first.
The Rusty Lake games usually start out very benign, almost tranquil. Sometimes they’re even cute or humorous. And then there’s always a turning point when things get weird and then there’s no going back…
The only way out is through! And by “through” I mean: You gotta go through a lot of ever-escalating creepy nuttiness to reach the conclusion and “escape” the room!
For example (minor 1st puzzle spoiler?), in Cube Escape: Seasons, you’ll find a bag of birdseed as you’re poking around. You’ll then go, “Oh. Well. I’ve got some birdseed now. Might as well feed that parrot!” Then, you’ll feed the parrot. The parrot will lay an egg. You’ll remember a note from the bulletin board regarding eating eggs. “Eat a parrot egg? Kinda weird, but there’s nothing else to do in this room, so why not? What’s the worst that could happen?”
You’ll boil the parrot’s egg on the stove, crack it open with a spoon you found, and… Oh. Huh! Well, that’s probably not good, right?
And, thus, you’ve reached the turning point. The CRAZY point. The point where you’re fully committed and say, “Well, I can’t stop NOW! I gotta see where THIS weirdness goes!”
If you’ve ever watched Twin Peaks, the feeling you get whenever the turning point happens in a Rusty Lake game will feel familiar (and exhilarating) to you. You know how the first few episodes of Twin Peaks are interesting but, overall, fairly “normal”? And then Agent Cooper has his first dream in the third episode (“Zen, Or the Skill to Catch a Killer”) and suddenly the weird factor kicks-in full-force and you take off on a truly wild and wacky ride? It’s like that.
In Cube Escape: Birthday, you play as a little boy celebrating his 9th birthday. The walls of your “room”/cube look like this:
Cute, right? Just a nice chillax birthday at home with your parents, your grandpa, and your cat… Until you trigger an unexpected guest to turn up and things take a truly horrifying turn!
Do you settle for having the WORST BIRTHDAY EVER?! Of course not! You gotta solve the puzzles, set things right, and escape the room!
I said earlier that these games can be played in pretty much any order; however, I do recommend making Cube Escape: Paradox last or second-to-last on your gaming list. You can play it sooner, but it won’t have as much of an impact.
Cube Escape: Paradox does something truly unique. At its core, it follows the same gameplay formula as the other games in Rusty Lake’s “Cube Escape” series; however, they also filmed a live-action movie to complement the game. You can watch the movie as you play in order to get insight/hints on what to do next, or you can wait until you’ve finished the game to watch it and go, “Wow!! It looks exactly like the game! That’s so COOL!”
If you save Cube Escape: Paradox for last, by the time you get to it, you’ll be fully invested in the Rusty Lake universe and its characters and seeing them in their biggest adventure yet — and then as real people in the live-action movie! — is extra nifty.
So that pretty much covers the “Cube Escape games. Then there’s the stand-alone premium games (my faves!):
Rusty Lake: Roots
The stand-alone premium games tie-in with the “Cube Escape” games. I highly recommend playing ALL of Rusty Lake’s games, but you don’t have to in order to enjoy them.
Rusty Lake: Roots was my first Rusty Lake game (and the newest, at that time — I got into the fandom a little “late”). It remains one of my favorites.
You start by meeting James Vanderboom:
The goal of the game is to trace James’ “roots” and fill out his family tree. You meet/interact with/become all of the members of the Vanderboom clan across several generations.
You start out with a tree that looks like this:
And then solve all the puzzles/levels (30+ levels of varying difficulty and length!) until the tree is fully-grown/finished:
As you fill the branches of the Vanderboom family tree in Rusty Lake: Roots, you’ll encounter things that are deeply disturbing (reliving time spent in the trenches through the eyes of a wounded soldier with PTSD), gross (the miracle of birth can be kinda yucky), heartbreaking (the depressed mother desperately searching for her missing son), unsettling (not everyone in the Vanderboom clan is nice and they get up to some creepy activities!), and downright goofy (there are some chuckles mixed in with the horror and tragedy).
Once you’ve finished the main story, you can play through (select chapters) again to uncover secrets and bonus chapters/achievements. Very fun!
Rusty Lake: Paradise
In Rusty Lake: Paradise, you play as Jakob Eilander, the oldest son of the Eilander family of Paradise Island.
Jakob hasn’t seen his family — or been to Paradise — in quite some time. Things have changed on the island recently. Mainly…
…Paradise is experiencing the ten Biblical plagues.
Each level is a new day and features a new plague to contend with. Plus, you have to deal with the awkwardness of having a reunion with your extremely strange family members. Fun!
Rusty Lake: Hotel
Rusty Lake: Hotel features a familiar cast of characters but there’s some debate as to whether it’s “canon” in the overall lore. It has the same “feel” as other Rusty Lake games but doesn’t really fit in.
That said, Rusty Lake: Hotel is a hoot! It’s a fun, short, puzzle game that you’ll likely need to play at least twice.
At first, you’ll be like, “Oh! How cute! I’m helping out at a hotel managed by adorable animals! Lookit the lil bat in a bellhop outfit!! Awwww.”
Then, you meet the guests: A variety of animals who all have distinct personalities and each need your help in some way (“help me run my bath water,” “get me a drink,” “come watch my magic show,” etc.).
Adorable, right? Kind of like a 2D version of Animal Crossing, thus far. Just hanging out with quirky, clothed, talking animals and being tasked with random objectives. Everything’s chill.
Then, you meet the hotel’s chef:
Sure, Dude. You need some meat for tomorrow’s dinner? No problem. I got you. All about helping out the animals in the animal-run hotel! Whatever you need, Man.
He gives you some recipes (the main story’s levels/objectives) for the meals he intends to prepare:
You look at the recipes. You look at the guests. And it starts to sink in what this game’s true objective is.
And, there it is: the Rusty Lake “turning point” I told you about. The point where things get weird and horrific and there’s no getting out of it. Not until it’s finished.
You choose a guest’s room to “visit” and you’re locked inside (escape the room!) until your objective is completed.
Until you go from this…
To finish the main story, all you need to do is get the main (meat) ingredients and feed the guests until…there aren’t any guests. You can complete this objective in any order; however, if you get all of the “optional” ingredients and provide the BEST versions of each recipe at mealtime, you unlock a few more secrets/scenes. That’s why you’ll likely need to play Rusty Lake: Hotel at least twice (once to find out what’s in each room, and then once again — playing more strategically — to achieve the “perfect” meals).
Speaking of recipes and perfect meals…
We released our FREE Quarantine Cookbook today! Go grab your free copy: It’s filled with tasty recipes (and you won’t have to murder anyone in order to use them).
Hope you enjoy the (mostly free) Rusty Lake series of games and the (100% free) Quarantine Cookbook!
Stay safe out there, Fam.
Lauren Spear (née Tharp) is the owner of LittleZotz Writing, a super-respectable multiple award-winning website for freelance writers. She’s also the HorrorFam.com founder! Lauren grew up in the horror industry (her parents did practical special FX work for many of the horror movies you love from the ’80s and ’90s) and basically created this site so she could freely gas on about creepy stuff and stop having to pretend to be normal.