Mar 6, 2013

[Games] The Room (iOS)

Over the weekend my partner Tobie introduced me to the mobile game, The Room on his iPad (given my tablet is Android-based). And man, what an amazing game it was indeed - I was totally floored by the brilliance of it. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up playing straight through to the end of the game with minimal interruptions.

At its core, The Room reminds one a lot of the older generation of puzzle games like Myst or The 7th Guest. You are working your way through a story but you don't exactly have to directly contest with an opponent in a real-time fashion. Instead, you need to deal with all the different puzzles set before you one after the other.

And I have to admit that I've severely missed this sort of gaming.

Synopsis: The Room is mobile puzzle game developed by Fireproof Games. For now it's only available for iOS but an Android port has been promised for later in the year.

The game is simple enough in concept - you are in some undefined room with a single object resting on the table. It is typically some sort of puzle box or safe and you as a player will interact with the item in order to reveal it's many secrets. You start with a basic tutorial for how the game works and then this is followed by additional puzzle boxes as you complete various chapters.

The game creatively employs the usual tablet actions of swiping, pinching and zooming to allow you to view the puzzle boxes in all dimensions. You will find yourself repeatedly going around the box looking for clues and returning to interesting areas time and time again until you have the answer to that part of the puzzle. It rewards one's attention to detail and an appreciation for identifying patterns - all the usual hallmarks of a good puzzle game.

And it really helps that the puzzle boxes are beautifully rendered in minute detail and thus the game isn't just engaging but also very visually rewarding to interact with. And that's good game design.

A key element in the game is a lens that you unlock in the tutorial that allows you to see hidden signs, symbols and writings on the puzzle boxes. It ads a nice dimension to the gameplay where you need to switch between normal vision and of course the lens-enabled vision to see past the surface of the object.

For those who get stumped, there's a nicely subtle Clue system that slowly reveals up to three clues about any particular aspect of the puzzle that you are currently interacting with. The clues are just enough to get you a few steps closer to the answer but still force you to think your way past the puzzle.

I wish I could say more but I really don't want to spoil the game for all of you who may download the game after reading this review. It isn't a free game, but I assure you that it's more than worth the price of the game given the novelty of the game.

My only complaint about The Room is the fact that it's so short at this point. Thankfully Fireproof games have announced that they are coming up with a sequel to unlock more "rooms" and thus more puzzle boxes for us to tinker with. Beyond that, this is one of the best puzzle games to come along and it fully deserves a full 5 hidden notes describing the experiments of our unknown doctor at the heart of things.

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