Melon Lacquer. Mellifluous Lymphocytes. Marimba Lion. Just what, exactly, does #07 ML stand for? Surely such an intelligent and well-made room escape game must have a suitably clever name. Well, I guess it doesn't really matter…though I do, I must admit, like "Marimba Lion." I'll have to remember that one.
Another high-quality creation of consistently excellent Japanese designer 58 Works (Cottage, Escape from Test Kitchen 2), #07 ML has it all. Aesthetically pleasing, with a number of interesting puzzles and a logical flow, the game provides an all-around first-rate experience. The player is launched into the game sans frills or fanfare, without even a cursory attempt at a backstory or introduction; it's just your wits vs. the room, no other context required.
The adage "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" is especially useful advice for this game; in a couple of important instances, an action must be repeated numerous times to be effective. Otherwise, the puzzles are remarkably straightforward (if not exactly based in reality). With the exception of the final puzzle, nothing about #07 ML is wildly different or innovative; on the plus side, however, absolutely no leaps of questionable "logic" are necessary to escape the room. Don't take this to mean, though, that the game is easy or simple. There's plenty here to occupy your little gray cells, as Hercule Poirot might have said; the difference is that in the end, it all makes sense. This can be a rarity among escape games, and is something to be treasured.
The room itself is cool, clean and appealing, with white walls and minimalist furnishings. Interestingly, the keys in the game are beautiful, like tiny works of art; this shows an attention to and affection for detail that not many designers share. Navigating around the room is easy, and there are only a few instances of pixel-hunting. The absence of any sort of music seems to be a staple of 58 Works' games, and does not detract from the experience in any significant manner. I do, however, wish that the designers had chosen to include a save feature; it's such a simple element, and yet one that can radically decrease the frustration level of the player. Come on guys, get on it!
This minor annoyance aside, #07 ML is a really wonderful escape game. 58 Works just keeps getting better and better, more professional and polished with each game, and I'm excited to see what they produce next. In the meantime, we can keep trying to figure out what ML stands for. Miracle Lathe? Macabre Lotus? Oh well, whatever…