We are Rusty Lake:
Creators of the praised Cube Escape series and the premium point-and-click adventures Rusty Lake Hotel and award-winning Rusty Lake: Roots.Read more
Welcome to Rusty Lake, a surreal place where anything can happen. We offer you the most mysterious game series you'll ever play.
Why not try out our praised Cube Escape series first? Let the cubes guide you the eerie and atmospheric point-and-click adventures with an "escape room" feeling. Currently we have ten Cube Escape games taking place in the Rusty Lake universe. Cube Escape: Paradox is our latest installment which is combined with a short film! Download them for ten on iOS, Android or play on Desktop.
Next to our Cube Escape series we created three premium adventure games with unique story lines taking place in Rusty Lake as well. Serve deadly dinners to five animal-headed guests in Rusty Lake Hotel, expand the bloodline of the Vanderbooms in our award-winning adventure Rusty Lake: Roots or stop the ten plagues on a small island in Rusty Lake Paradise.
On the right, you can find a list of all our games sorted by release date.
On our game portal you can play our free games but also find other adventure, room escape and puzzle games. We selected games with a fascinating story, ambiance or unique game-play made by more forward-looking developers.
Check out our blog, social media or newsletter for new updates and content.
We wish you a pleasant stay in Rusty Lake!
Today we’re back with another devlog! As promised we want to dive a bit deeper into the puzzle design for our upcoming 2-player game The Past Within. But first, we’d like to offer some more insights into how the puzzles for our previous Rusty Lake and Cube Escape games were designed.
When we started making Rusty Lake games, we wanted to create a foundation for our games using the basic principles from those early Room Escape flash games: you are trapped in a room and you have to find keys, codes or specific items that help you progress through a level and, in the end, escape the room (or defeat a terrifying corrupted soul for example). Having only four walls helps to keep the space around you clear and easy to understand. We also try to stick to two basic rules: “the player should be able to use everything in the room” and “do not give the player too many options”. And since you are not always escaping the room itself in our games, we strive to give the player a sense of progress, a clear goal to reach. Examples are completing the machine in Birthday, the different shows in Theatre or collecting the cubes in Seasons or Paradox. That way we give the player a structured puzzle experience while simultaneously giving ourselves more freedom to stuff the game with atmosphere, strange twists and mind-bending puzzles.
One of the first items you find in several of our games is the box of matches. While this became sort of a running gag over time, it actually has a purpose: it is a recognizable item, as most players will know what to do with matches: light a candle or set anything else on fire.
This way we make players familiar with the gameplay and the environment, it’s always nice to have a few interactions before the real puzzling begins.
After this we try to give the players an interesting variety of puzzles:
– You have to use an item you have found on the right object.
– You have to solve a stand-alone puzzle. This can be a sliding puzzle on a cabinet but also a sequence puzzle on a specific object.
– You have to find a code. This can be a basic 4-digit code on a piece of paper, but can also be way more complex, like the scale-in-the-ear of Arles or the binoculars puzzle in Roots.
– You have to solve a more extensive minigame, like the 9-room puzzle or tower defence game in Paradox.
The inspiration for these puzzles often arises from the location or theme of the room: for Arles, we looked at the Van Gogh painting and looked for puzzle possibilities in the decoration of the room. In Hotel every guest had his own profession or hobby. Samsara Room has the animal themes. We always choose a location that works within the story and offers us enough opportunities to create interesting puzzles.
To keep every new game fresh and exciting we spent a lot of time designing a new or different layer of puzzles or a slightly different way of gameplay, which gives space for new kinds of puzzles. Another thing we enjoy doing is extending the experience with puzzles outside a particular game; e.g. connecting Seasons and The Lake with a special code, finding secret hints in the Paradox short film or visiting the mentalhealthandfishing.com website after playing The White Door.
The Past Within
When we started creating The Past Within (as a single-player experience) we tried using all these basic puzzle principles, but unfortunately, it didn’t match with 2D and 3D environments and the story we wanted to tell (as you can read in devlog 1 and 2). After changing it to co-op experience we had a breakthrough, but this also meant we had to approach the whole ‘puzzle designing’ process from a new angle. For the first time, we had to design puzzles around communication, where two players have completely different environments.
The majority of the puzzles in our other games are based on certain visual hints: symbols you find, an item you have to place on an object either because it matches its appearance or because of pictures with useful information hanging on the wall. But in The Past Within, you only see half of the puzzles and in order to solve it, you need to both describe any visual hints to the other player and listen to hints/clues from the other player. This makes the game fun, but also more complex. Therefore our two rules “the player should be able to use everything in the room” and “do not give the player too many options” become even more important.
Playtesting is, more than ever, a very important part of the puzzle design process. We are often surprised by how the players communicate since they often describe visual hints in ways we didn’t think of ourselves. Some puzzles turn out easier than we thought, others harder. It’s more difficult to predict how the game is played than with our other games. Which is interesting to see, but also means that we need to allow ourselves to be flexible with the puzzle designs we make, and adapt based on what we see during these playtests.
To let you get used to the idea of how The Past Within works, we designed a small puzzle for you and a friend to try out (yes, you can do it by yourself, but we’d really like for you to get a feeling for how The Past Within will work). Feel free to join our Discord, find a friend there to play with, and work together to solve this small test puzzle. Make sure the other person chooses the other Player and start to communicate what you see!
Did you work together and found the answer? Congrats! Please keep it to yourself and share it with us here: https://forms.gle/1oe3otcH4SUHeSYn7. We’ll be giving a 1000 piece Rusty Lake puzzle box to 3 pairs of players!
UPDATE: We’ve selected our 3 winning pairs and have contacted the winners via email! A big thank you to everyone for playing our demo co-op puzzle and for participating in our contest!
We will be back with another devlog! Stay tuned!
Greetings from The Lake!?♂️