Puzzle games come in all shapes and sizes. They challenge the mind, confuse us into thinking one thing only to reveal another, and frustrate some to the point that they never play them again. The Room, an iOS game produced by Fireproof Games, is a prime example of the genre. Upon first starting the game, you are presented with what looks like the side table to a bed. On top are various books, an envelope, and a cylindrical container. You are then presented, through the tutorial, with a letter which reads:
“You came. I knew your curiosity would get the better of you.
The answers you seek are inside this box; along with something else. Something they said could never be built. It is the only one in existence, and it is the key to incomprehensible power. The safe was constructed to keep it from lesser minds. I have every faith in you solving its mysteries. You always were the smart one. With the enclosed key I gift you one parting favor. Keep this eyepiece with you always. Without it, you are as blind as the rest.”
As you might have guessed, the letter contains a key which opens the cylindrical container; inside is an eyepiece. Beyond that, the game rarely, if ever, gives you any hints or clues. Here and there, it might give you a riddle to start you off, such as when you open the container and there is one more note from AS. It says “Feed me and I shall survive, Give me drink and I shall die.” As with all riddles, the answer will either come to you right away, or you’ll feel incredibly foolish when you figure it out by chance and think to yourself, “I should’ve known that to start with.”
After working through the first three or four movable and hinged parts on what is so ingeniously referred to as “this box”, you are presented with, you guessed it, another box! As the player, you will become very familiar with all sorts of boxes and trap doors and changeable keys as you play this game. A word to the wise: inspect everything you pick up. Many of the keys and gadgets you find through the game have parts that can be manipulated to make the tool multifunctional. Keys can open several locks just by rotating one or two segments of them to change their shape. There will be multiple riddles, and sometimes, the game will say something along the lines of “Something clicked somewhere on the box.” This is both helpful and infuriating at the same time, because it doesn’t actually tell you where to look, and some of the boxes have up to eight sides for you to figure out.
The allure of this game is, of course, the fact that it is a challenge. It doesn’t just spend time saying “Go here” or “Follow this path” or “Shoot this guy.” It drops you in a room with a letter from some mysterious man with the initials AS who somehow knows you and how smart you are and expects you to figure out the secrets. However, what makes this game so inviting is also what can make it so punishing. Nothing goes wrong, there are no time limits, and nothing kills you if you try to press something or open something that doesn’t work. Its much, much worse. It just sits there while you work yourself into a frenzy trying to figure out what to do.
Then there is the music. The music does not help you concentrate at all. Its a mix of creepy carnival and sinister lullaby that you might expect to hear being played in a haunted house right before a murderous clown jumps out of a conveniently placed closet. The trailer gives a good 30 seconds of the music, which is enough to send chills down the spine of even the bravest soul around.
Perhaps the most infuriating part of the game is the ending. It will not be told here, so there are no spoiler alerts necessary, but it leaves you on a cliffhanger with a note from the developer thanking you for playing and telling you that they hope to make a sequel sometime in the future. So, you don’t really have any idea what actually happened or what you actually found, other than what you can deduce from the notes left along the way by the mysterious AS. After all is said and done, The Room leaves you feeling like you figured something out, but at the same time, that there is so much more to it than you’ve been told. It’s a clever play by Fireproof Games to ensure that people are clamoring for the next installment of The Room.
This review is based on a retail copy of the iOS version of The Room developed and published by Fireproof Games.
- Great Puzzle Work
- The Ending of the Game is Frustrating
- Not Enough Information on the Story