Escape into The Room, and stay for the puzzles.
My everyday puzzles are generally about finding where to put what in a tight schedule, or remembering where I placed my keys. If I could have had some proper puzzles to solve my days would be so much more rewarding. Perhaps that is why I don’t want to stop playing The Room. Or rather stop problem solving, as this is puzzle done right in every imaginable aspect. The only thing missing is having the game in 3D to really feel the surfaces of the objects.
The Room plays much like a combination of Myst/Riven and almost all spatial puzzle games. For iOS a game like Cogs quickly comes to mind both because of the puzzle mechanic, and the focused perspective. The Room features puzzles that are far superior in size, ingenuity and mystery. I would rather say that The Room is a focused Myst experience where the walking about feeling lost has been made redundant. I do get the same mystery vibes due to the dark setting with a few desolate light sources guiding the way.
A puzzle in The Room is never just one puzzle, and it is easy to imagine any weird scientist, inventor or madman as creator of these contraptions. Unlike those found in the Saw series these contraptions aren’t menacing, but rather give clues to their purpose, and inventor. You are escaping in a sense, but I feel like I am escaping from ignorance instead of from something out to kill me. It feels like I could just as well turn around, and walk away from the contraption with my lack of knowledge intact. Now I would never want to do that, and The Room manages to pull me in deep even when I am getting stuck.
What makes The Room shine is how well the controls have been adapted to a touch screen. It feels as fluid as the controls in Zen Bound, but I never feel restricted to any limits. Just like in real life I can explore objects more or less how close I want to, and zoom back in the blink of an eye. To zoom in on an object you double tap it. Interactions are using swipes, rotations and the accelerometer. Too often I let my own preconceptions of borders hinder me from progressing, such as for example not realising that I could tilt the iPad to move orbs and objects.
The hint system is worth mentioning because it is so nicely balanced. I have had to use it at a number of times when I got stuck. Some hints are really just hints that urge you to try new ways of examining the puzzle at hand. Almost reminding you that you can solve it if you put your mind to it. Other hints are more direct in telling you what you should look for, or what object you should use. I find this hint system to be superior to all others I have found in puzzle adventure games. For one it is not a walkthrough in disguise.
There is a story buried inside The Room, and each artefact and puzzle gives a deeper understanding to it. Reading documents is imperative, and perhaps this is where the game could be improved slightly. Then on the other hand not having voices, and people giving the characters life forces me to create them myself using my imagination. As I progress through the game it is a balance between story, and urge to solve puzzles that drive me forward.
As far as presentation goes this is one of the games at the pinnacle of what we know the iPad 2/New iPad to be capable of. Cool shadow, and lighting effects create a desolate vibe, and affect how the puzzles are approached. Not with caution, but rather with reverence. All surfaces have a nice polished look, and wood looks worn and torn if it is supposed to. Machinery inside the contraptions is beautifully animated giving them life.
The sound is another impeccable aspect of the game with a dark ambience. Creaking noises, thumping machinery and sounds of something mysterious happening outside of the room. You can use your own music, but don’t. The Room is deeply enhanced by the sounds found within.
Everything has to come to an end, and sadly that happens to The Room as well. After being immersed in its world for hours it was hard to surface. What pleased me is the fact that it can be replayed again due to having so many puzzles that I couldn’t remember the solutions for. This is a game that I will replay over, and over again. Much like some fans are replaying Myst once, or twice each year.
The Room is a must have for the iPad 2/New iPad with the best puzzles, and puzzle mechanics of 2012. Everything about the game is polished, and highly compelling. I can’t think of a better place to escape to when you are looking for your keys for the third time in a day.
The Room $4.99 iPad 2/New iPad only
Seller: Fireproof Studios Limited