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Katy England Katy England
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Rusty Lake: Roots' worth the price of admission

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The Rusty Lake series of point-and-click puzzle games have long been known for their creepy aesthetic; the tradition continues with the recently-released 'Rusty Lake: Roots' ($2.99, available on Android, Apple, Steam, and iOS), a multi-tiered game that doles out the grim backstory of some of the characters that have previously been revealed to players of the unnerving game.

At the opening, you see a beatific view of Rusty Lake and some of its environs familiar landmarks will stand out for those who have followed the series. James comes to the house on Rusty Lake after the mysterious death of his uncle. While solving a series of puzzles you begin to see a clear (and rather disturbing) picture of this troubled family that is being manipulated from beyond the grave. In order to bring back William Vanderboom, sacrifices need to be made. And they are. And you help.

This is the second game in the series that they've charged money for, and if you're complaining about the $2.99 price tag, you need to suck it up, buttercup. This game comes with 33 levels, nine bonus mini-puzzles and a final larger puzzle after you solve the extras. There is a ton of content here, and that's in addition to the multitudinous games they have released for free (Cube Escape: Seasons, Case 23, Arles, Birthday, The Mill, The Lake, Harvey's Box, and Theatre).

This game is not for the faint of heart. If you're looking for a whimsical game to pass the time, go find a Sushi Cat game heck, if you are looking to be creeped out, you might want to have Sushi Cat on standby to cheer yourself up after this. You have to gather the 10 sacrifices needed to bring William back to life: a tongue, two eyes, tears, blood, a foot, hair, a brain, teeth, and a heart. That should be a hint of what's in store, but don't worry, it gets worse. You follow the lives of James and his progeny, as they live out their lives some filled with surreal horror and tragedy, others with horrific evil and death. No one is spared. And since you're the agent in the game, you'll find yourself complicit in some seriously creepy stuff. Don't say I didn't warn you. There are also some jump-scares, but they just add to overall sense of foreboding that this came carefully cultivates.

The puzzles themselves are well-balanced. You have to be observant, but you never leave feeling tricked or cheated. There are also walkthroughs available should you find yourself stuck. And on the times I used them, I often found if I had just slowed down and looked a little harder the answers would have come. But all told, I only needed it a couple of times (usually followed by a face-palm).

'Rusty Lake: Roots' is more than worth the price of admission. It's masterful in its tone and pacing and still manages to leave you wanting more without the player feeling cheated. If you are a fan of the games, or are just looking for a creepy way to spend some hours during Halloween skip buying a couple of sodas or a bag of candy and splurge on this game.


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