Publishing a Christmas-themed game in early October? Strange choice for sure, but then, the supermarkets are already full of chocolate Santa Clauses, gingerbread and stollen. I'm always wondering who is buying this stuff at this time of the year. On the one hand, sure, why not? But the inevitable effect is that you will be fed up with all this ultra-sweet stuff by the time Christmas actually comes along. But I disgress.
So apparantely, it's the 23rd or 24th of December and you're Christmas shopping. Obviously, this turns out to be a stressful endeavour, but you've done it. Presents for all the annoying relatives bagged, you try to make your way to the parking lot... when a thieving elf (or a short guy in an elf costume) steals your coat... which has your car key in them! So to escape from Santaland, you have to first unravel the secrets of the hidden compartment under Santa Clauses chair which the thief disappered into.
There is one strange thing about this setting: There is absolutely nobody there. The store is apparently already closed, but then, why is the player still there? So the solution is not centered around finding your way through crowds of hectic last-minute shoppers and maybe manipulating them, but unciphering and manipulating the fairly pathetic cardboard Christmas settings the store has put up.
Escape from Santaland is a refreshingly unpretentious little game: Not much of a plot, certainly no claims at any meaningful (or 'deep') message. Likewise, the writing style is appropriately straightforward, using no artificially inflated metaphors or grandiose words. Which, surprisingly enough, does not even lead to terse, uninteresting descriptions.
The puzzles are both simple and non-obvious enough to allow for a gratifying experience: complex tasks tend to frustrate players, but being too simple would prevent any positive reaction as well (seriously, who gets kicks out of unlocking a door with a key?). So this is a very suitable recommendation for beginners – good work!