Safecracker: The Ultimate Puzzle Adventure



Genre:   Puzzle - Adventure

Developer:     Kheops Studios

Publisher:    The Adventure Company

Released:  August 2006

PC Requirements:   See review below


Additional Screenshots




by gremlin

What is it?

Well, to start with, it’s a cool metallic DVD-style box, with a plastic window showing the CD inside, which looks like the dial of a bank safe. Yes, it’s SAFECRACKER: The Ultimate Puzzle Adventure. As adventure game packaging goes, this is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I’ve got to wonder though, if it caused Customs any second thoughts if they X-rayed it, given the recent (as in August 2006) security alerts in UK airports. ;-)

The game itself installed easily, as I find is normal for The Adventure Company games. Furthermore, as is also normal for The Adventure Company games, SAFECRACKER plays without the CD in the drive, which is just as well on my laptop, as the CD drive does tend to get a little heated with extended use. Unusually for me, I decided to try this game on my laptop, as it has no difficulty meeting the minimum requirements.

Is there a plot?

There is a story behind this game, and it’s a simple one: Duncan W. Adams, the eccentric billionaire recluse, has died, leaving his will hidden somewhere in his mansion. Given his obsession with safes and locks of all sorts, the problem for Adams’ estate is that the will lies behind a series of some 35 safes. And you’re the expert safecracker that’s been brought in to solve the problem. So you’re dropped in the entrance hall of the mansion with nothing but your wits and a locked door ahead of you.

There is a bit of a subplot about the various family members that are hoping to inherit Adams’ fortune, but it’s very lightly played until you hit the end of the trail.

How do you play?

You remember how all those game reviewers of the last ten years have been claiming that point-n-click pre-rendered games are old hat and a dying breed? Well, SAFECRACKER uses exactly that interface to drive this game. No fancy environmental animations, no extraneous actors parachuted in to add ‘character interactions,’ just a 25-room, three-storey mansion rendered well in ‘bubbles,’ like Myst III Exile. Movement is achieved by left-clicking when the mouse pointer is pointing forwards; puzzles and other items are examined by left-clicking when the mouse pointer is a magnifier. Right-clicking at any time will bring up the inventory and the menu button, although the menu is also available by pressing Esc.

Outside of the game itself, there is a simple menu with the usual Save, Load and New Game and Options. There is not much to tweak in the Options – mostly sound volume, mouse speed, and whether the voice-overs have subtitles. There are unlimited save slots for each of five players, each identified by a different key, and the slots are identified by date and time and a small screen shot.

So, we know what the environment looks like, what about the all-important safes?

As I’ve already mentioned, there are about 35 safes in the game depending upon how you count them (there is at least one composite safe that might be described as four separate ones). The puzzle types vary from simple keys and switches, through passcards, combinations, path-finding mazes, various ciphers and number puzzles, all the way up to, in my opinion, the hardest of all: a variation upon the old sliding tiles puzzle. I normally don’t have any difficulty with sliding tiles puzzles, but this one is really nasty. In fact, I must admit, I had to resort to a walkthrough to solve it. A handy feature is that whenever you leave a puzzle unsolved (by clicking on a nice big red ‘X’ button in the bottom right corner of the screen), the puzzle resets completely. So if you get a puzzle into a dead-end, you can just reset it and try again.

As you’d expect, several of the safes simply require you to find the right numeric combination, that you then dial or type in. But others require much more logic. All in all, there are a decent variety of puzzles, all well designed and clear. Some puzzles require some working out as to what the objective is. However, if you make a number of false starts or re-start a puzzle a few times, the narrator gives a clue that usually gives you a decent idea of where you’re aiming. All of the puzzles are very clear about whether you’ve succeeded or not – success is simple: the door (in whatever form) opens with a nice satisfying chime.

My one complaint about the safes is that although you are not forced to do the safes in a particular order, the really difficult slider puzzle comes at a point early in the game beyond which you have to solve the slider to progress further (unless you can figure out one of the other puzzles without the clue hidden in the slider safe). Some safes provide access to new parts of the mansion, others provide keys, and the rest provide hints that can be used to solve other safes around the house. And it’s usually quite clear, once you’ve seen the relevant safe, as to which clues apply to which safes.

Scattered around the house you’ll also find snippets of information that tell you a little about Duncan W. Adams and his descendents, in the form of newspaper articles, notes by D. W. A., letters and postcards from various people, and pages from D. W. A.’s own diary. This is the vehicle through which the subplot about the destination of the inheritance to which I alluded earlier is played out. But as I already said, it’s not an important part of the gameplay; that’s the safes, of course.


To be frank, there is not a lot about SAFECRACKER that is actually novel, except that they’ve put together a game that is almost completely centred on the puzzle element of adventure games. Yes, it’s in a nice environment. Yes, the voice acting, what little there is, is perfectly fine. You can’t die. You can save at any time. There are no sound-based puzzles, or puzzles that require the differentiation of subtle colours (with one quite easy exception), nor puzzles that require extraordinary feats of memory or mathematics. The music is okay, though it becomes repetitive after a few hours. There is little plot, but the game doesn’t need one. And notably, I had no technical issues with the game whatsoever – a relative rarity these days. There is some replay value in SAFECRACKER, but not a great deal, as the puzzle solutions are almost universally the same every time you play the game. In fact I can only think of one puzzle whose solution is randomised each time you play.

So, finally, with the exception of the sliding tile puzzle I mentioned, I was able to complete SAFECRACKER in a few hours. I would say it’s a nice diversion, but not a game that is going to set the world alight.

Grade: B


What do you need to play it?

Minimum Requirements

  • Windoes 98SE/ME/2000/XP
  • Processor: Pentium III/AMD Athlon™ 800 MHz
  • Memory: 64 MB RAM
  • Sound Card: DirectX® 9.0c Compatible
  • Hard Disk: 700 MB Available
  • DirectX® 9.0c (Included on CD)
  • Graphics Card: 64 MB DirectX® 9.0c Compatible

(I used a laptop PC with Win XP Home, AMD Sempron 2800+, 512 MB RAM, and nVidia GeForce FX Go5200)


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