Game Review: The Room

 

No, not based on that terrible movie.

Developer: Fireproof Games
Publisher: Fireproof Games
Platforms: Microsoft Windows (reviewed)
Available on: Steam

I have a certain fondness for puzzle games. Especially ones with an appealing visual aesthetic. So The Room basically already jumped out at me, specifically because it wooed me with its pretty updated graphics that don’t reflect its mobile origins.

But a puzzle game can’t be measured by its aesthetics alone. No, the puzzles themselves are what we’re here for. And on that front I’m kind of ambivalent towards the title. It reminds me a lot of those old escape-the-room flash games. Specifically of Crimson Room and Viridian Room, if you remember those from back in the day. I at least had a lot of fun playing those, but often, you could luck yourself into a solution, while at other times having to make certain leaps in logic that would make the Sierra of the 80’s proud.

The same thing basically applies to The Room. You’re searching the objects in front of you for solutions to puzzles that the very same objects pose to you. There’s only a handful of items you’re given at any time and if you run out of things to rub them on, it’s time to go down the old-school adventure game route and just double click on anything in the hopes that it triggers something you might have missed. As a result, you can brute force your way through a variety of puzzles with only minimal research.

One instance that immediately springs to mind was a puzzle with two dials, numbered one to five. I had no clue what combination was expected of me, so I just left one dial at one and went through all five options on the second dial. Rinse and repeat by increasing the number on the first dial and just going through all the options on the second one and presto, brute force your way through a puzzle.

Still, there are a handful of solutions that make you feel smart in a way only a puzzle game can make you feel smart. You know, that smug satisfaction you get from doing something completely obvious but being under the impression of being smarter than the developer for figuring it out so quickly. But as a whole, it’s still a bit on the easy side for a puzzle game. It’s nowhere near as hard as Please, Don’t Touch Anything, which I’d still consider the best game of that ilk that I’ve played.

But I can’t give a negative review to a game that I greatly enjoyed playing, even though it barely lasted two and a half hours. I immediately replayed it, because the conglaturations-screen mentioned something about more rooms and I had hoped for some kind of new game+ mode or something, but no, you get five chapters and that’s your lot. Unfortunately, it was referring to the sequels, which means that the story they’ve set up ends on a cliffhanger. And those sequels haven’t made it to PCs yet – if they ever will –  and are only out on mobile devices. But you know what, this has been the first thing in existence that made me buy a mobile game, so it must have done something right.

I still hope they get to port the sequels to PC, but I guess I’ll be happy enough if the third entry gets released on Android some time later, since I don’t have an iOS device. If they do port it though, I hope they don’t include one of their game-breaking bugs in it. There was a puzzle very late in the game that refused to get solved, even though the solution was obvious from just glancing at it. And it had the stupidest reason why it didn’t work: Just because I’ve got a 120Hz monitor and the game runs at the same frame-rate, it broke that puzzle. I had to manually cap the framerate at 60Hz in order to progress, which is really weird behaviour by a game that really has no business tying anything at all to the framerate.

If you’re a fan of puzzle games that don’t need to be completely obscure at all times, I’d say The Room is worth the investment. Just know that there’s no replay value to be found and that the story – what little there is of one – ends on an unsatisfying cliffhanger.

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