No Escape! is set firmly in Greek mythology. The player assumes the role of Jason, our epic hero who wound up imprisoned in Aphrodite's temple after stealing the golden fleece. While in the temple, Jason gets harassed by furies who have it in for poor Jason. But, is Jason defenseless? No!
Jason has access to rocks and can throw them at will. If he hits a fury with a rock, the beastie splits in half and multiplies. However, if he hits the roof of the temple with a rock, it will dislodge a section. If the roof section falls on a fury, the monster eliminated. That, indeed, is what makes the game so darn unusual -- kind of a reverse shooter, if you will. Smacking the temple roof with rocks and dislodging sections is rather similar to the classic Breakout series and this game can be viewed as a refreshing twist on that venerable game.
Now, No Escape! starts out fairly easily in that furies move predictably and don't shoot back at Jason. So, it's fairly easy to figure out the correct timing to smack furies with roof sections and not worry about getting shot. Also, avoiding the pieces of falling roof is easy enough. However, as the game difficulty increases, the movement of the furies becomes more erratic, thus requiring more luck than timing in order to land a shot. Also, the furies start to shoot back, so Jason must move around frantically to survive. And, the difficulty ramps up in a hurry, so one has to really love this game to stick with it for long.
As usual, Imagic packed some great graphics in this cartridge. Jason and the furies are all drawn in multiple colors and are well-defined. The images are very sharp and clear, and there are even little columns bordering the play field that look quite appropriate. The roof is painted in rainbow colors, thus keeping with the "Breakout derivative" theme. At the end of the game, there's a shot of Jason escaping on Pegasus, and that's a nice little touch (the "escaping to safety" theme, indeed, is common in Imagic games).
Similarly, the sound is pretty good, while the ditties and "bleeps" and "bloops" are never complex, they fit the atmosphere of the game well enough. Control is nice and precise to, and that's always a must -- a game can look great, sound good and be backed with a solid concept, but it's all for naught if a bad control scheme makes it unplayable.
The multiplayer value of this title is minimal. A two-player game is about the same as a one-player one, but both players take turns fighting as Jason in their individual temples. You know the drill by now -- one player is invariably kicked back and waiting for the other one to get shot so that his turn will arrive.
While I maintain this game is well worth having, I really wish the folks at Imagic would have thought out the difficulty levels a bit more.
It can be difficult to predict the movement of the furies after around the second level, so the player is left counting on luck and gets frustrated easily as he accidentally hits furies with rocks and causes the monsters to divide and multiply. Still, the "reverse shooter" concept is intriguing and makes this title a fun diversion on occasion.