Cute and silly, wild and wacky, absurd and irrational, Chewy: Esc from F5 is everything classic adventure games are notorious for being.
Chewy and Clint are aliens who are trying to pull off a heist on another alien race, the mucus-colored, monstrous, moronic Borx. It goes wrong. As Chewy is captured, Clint is caught in a wormhole and somehow sent to Earth. The game begins as Chewy attempts to escape from the Borx prison and the planet F5. The second half of the game occurs after the escape, with Chewy and his new pal Howard searching for Clint on Earth.
The graphic design is cartoonish and childish (as is much of the humor), and average quality for its time. Chewy: Esc from F5 seems to be heavily influenced by LucasArts games, especially Day of the Tentacle. The art is good— nothing special, but it’s relatively pleasant to look at and fits the game well.
This game has big problems with puzzles, including its fair share of moon logic although that may be on par with other 90’s adventure games. Some examples: Using a rodent’s farts for fertilizer; giving a cigarette to a child (just bad); showing a mask to an effects director on a movie set; using pliers to make a fake artifact seem authentic; using a parrot on a singer. Oh and you’ve tried everything to wake up a passed out drunk guy so he can give you a map? No you haven’t. Sing him a song! Worked like a charm.
Adding to the problem of moon logic are poorly clued solutions. In a lot of adventure games, when solutions are illogical or otherwise difficult to find, developers will add hints and clues in the dialogue to provide some way for you to figure it out without a walkthrough. Chewy fails at that on multiple occasions. Why am I supposed to give dentures to a rooster? Why am I supposed to use a knife on a car seat? Why am I supposed to feed metal to a rodent? Why am I recording the TV? These questions are answered only after you perform the tasks. This has the effect of forcing players to combine everything with everything in order to find solutions to puzzles that no sane person would ever be able to piece together on their own.
In one puzzle, you’re supposed to open a door with a number combination. All the clues you need are written on a fence right next to it but they’re difficult to read. You can get the solution using trial-and-error but it could have been a satisfying puzzle if the solution were more properly clued.
By far, the biggest headache I got was from the vending machine puzzle. For the life of me, I could not figure out how I was supposed to get a cup of soda. Interacting with it shoots out cola but no cup. You can grab an out-of-order sign and put it on the machine, but that just makes it nonfunctional. I had no idea that there was some kind of repair bot floating around the ship, automatically fixing things that are broken. All I knew was I needed cola from this machine, and it wouldn’t work because I put an out-of-order sign on it. I didn’t know that I had to leave the screen and come back in order for the repair bot to show up. I spent a good 5–10 minutes on the vending machine screen before I even decided to leave. When I saw that repair bot, I searched my memory bank for any clues that might have helped me, anything I might have missed, but I couldn’t think of anything. I don’t think there was any way to figure out that solution other than to just try everything.
Another problem with the puzzles is that some logical solutions are obvious yet ignored, usually in favor of less logical solutions. For example, at one point, there were two railings I could attach a rope to, but only one of them was the correct one. Minor annoyance.
Many of the puzzles that were solvable were just too easy. The puzzles are either so obvious that they require no challenge to solve, or they’re so absurd that you can’t figure them out without trial-and-error or looking at a walkthrough. There’s very little gray area. Same with the hints. Some solutions are hinted at too much, others not enough.
There are other various confusing aspects of the game. Every time the train rolls by, Chewy says “he looks totally cool”. Who? I don’t see anyone. Why are we buying a magazine with what little money we have left? Howard says “We gotta have that, Chewy.” Okay. Why? Also, why is Chewy having Howard talk to people for him? Chewy puts his pumpkin head on so that the townsfolk won’t freak out when they see him (not sure how that works, but we’ll put that aside). Chewy has conversations with everyone with no issues. So why does he need Howard to talk for him? Little things like that add up to contribute to a muddled experience.
There are a few technical problems. The main one being that you can choose only voice or text, but not both. Dialogues and cut scenes are unskippable. Also, some things should have been made automatic, like putting the pumpkin on your head before going into town. And when you’re putting ingredients into the mixer, it doesn’t tell you what you’ve already put in it. Not a deal-breaker. I do choose voice and text in every game by default so it was hard for me to settle with just voice. The audio quality isn’t the greatest so you might miss words if you don’t have text on. I found it mostly tolerable, although I was constantly wondering why both isn’t an option. It would have been an easy thing to implement.
Some things are not indicated properly. In Howard’s house, there’s a kitchen at the bottom of the hallway but there’s no way to notice it without hovering your cursor over it. There’s no indication that you’re able to go behind the house. There’s no indication that you’re able to go over the fence. After dutifully searching a screen for everything useful in it, it’s frustrating to find out that there is an exit or two that you didn’t notice before because there’s no visual cue.
It does some technical things really well, like no dead ends, not having to walk to an object to examine it, Chewy doesn’t move like a giant tortoise which is nice. Technical issues didn’t affect my gameplay very much, which is a good sign. We tend to notice the technical stuff only after they become problems. I’m reminded of a quote from the TV show Futurama: “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” Overall, it ain’t broke and doesn’t need fixing.
It’s got jokes. They’re hit-and-miss. The TV shows you can flip through are pretty funny. And I do remember chuckling at some of the puns (before they got old). There was also a calm and rational torture victim, a cop with Nazi characteristics, a dog with dentures, Howard’s freestyle rap, and there was one funny exchange when they’re looking for their hotel room but none of the doors have numbers on them. Howard asks, “What’s our room number?” Chewy replies, “It doesn’t matter. These rooms don’t have numbers on them.” Maybe you had to be there.
The best part of the whole game is its cool chillout soundtrack. It’s not just good music for a game. These are tunes I would listen to on my own time. I have playlists full of music like this. It doesn’t even sound like video game music. It just sounds like funky, freaky, spacey, chill beats. I like it a lot.
If you’re looking for a hidden gem, an undiscovered classic, you might not find what you’re looking for here. But if you’re looking for another old-school adventure game in the style of LucasArts, this might tickle your fancy. Just don’t expect it to send you over the moon — unless moon logic is your thing.
Read the review »
Time Played: 10-20 hours