Game Review: The Room

The Room is (literally) a locked room-uh, box game in which you have to solve puzzles to advance. The premise is rather simple: you are following the footsteps of your friend who has disappeared, but has apparently dabbled in alchemy prior to that. He has left behind a box that has multiple hidden compartments and locks on it, which will provide clues as to what had happened to him.

I love puzzle games, and I got interested in this game from watching a ‘Let’s Play’ video of it. As far as puzzle games go, The Room is engaging and addictive. Part of its appeal lies in the wide variety of puzzles, from using a special lens to find hidden messages to getting tokens across a set of obstacles, so that you are not likely to be bored. However, I believe that the most impressive aspect of this game is the design of the objects in the game. It is a visual feast, especially if you like ornate designs like these:

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This game is close to perfect, but not quite so. Story-wise, the game is just so-so, reiterating the plot of someone dabbling in the supernatural and courting the sinister, which further convinces me that it is the visual design of the game that sets it apart.

Another grouse that I have about this game is the obligatory zooming in and out for every single action you want to perform. Want to place a key into a keyhole? You have to zoom in to the keyhole, put the key in and turn it, and then zoom out again. Given the amount of actions you will perform over the course of this game, that quickly gets tiresome.

Finally, if you ever get stuck on a particular puzzle or ran out of clues as to what to do next, there are hints provided to guide you. That brings me to my next complaint: the hints only show up after a certain amount of time. I understand that this is to encourage the player to keep trying, but it is annoying when the first hint provided is rarely helpful. For example, once you find a key or a cog or some random piece of metal, but are unsure of where it can be used, the first hint is usually along the lines of, ‘That can be used somewhere’. No shit, Sherlock! In return, you will have to wait even longer for the next hint to be available.

Still, the game itself is engaging enough for me to finish it in two sittings (only because I started the first session quite late). It was so addictive that I was disappointed when the game ended, which prompted me to immediately get The Room 2 (to be discussed in another post). There is undoubtedly a sense of satisfaction in solving some of the puzzles, the feeling of joy when something clicks. Another added bonus: this game is available for USD4.99, which is not too bad for about 4 hours of gameplay. I can’t vouch for its replay value, since it’s too early for me to try playing it again, but I suspect that I would have forgotten most of the solutions to the puzzles, so it will still be engaging if I play it again.

If you like puzzles, go for this game. It’s as good as it gets. Finally, let me conclude with my favourite part of the game:

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