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‘The Room’ for iPad game review

The Room is a puzzle solving game exclusively for the iPad and is unlike anything you’ve seen before. The game has received several accolades already and is on top of several App Store lists around the world.

We decided to give it a try and see for ourselves just how good the game really is.

Title
The Room
Developer
Fireproof Games
Platform
iOS (iPad only)
Release Date

September 2012
Content rating

9+
Size
125MB
Price
$4.99

Gameplay

The Room is a puzzle solving game and a unique one at that. In this game, the puzzles are in the form of several intricately designed boxes that you have to unlock to find the secret within.

The surfaces of these boxes are covered with an amazing number of small puzzles that you have to solve. Finding the answer to one reveals the clue to the next and step by step you solve all of them and eventually open the box and move to the next one.

The design of these boxes and the level of detail poured into them is absolutely amazing. Also, the way some of the clues are hidden, which are actually in plain sight but unless you solve one of the puzzles there is no way for you to know what you’re looking at is part of the next one.

To begin solving a puzzle, you have to click on a point of interest and it zooms into view. The puzzles are usually riddles whose clues are scattered around the box. At times you will find a key hole but to find the key that fits into it you will have to solve the right puzzle. Often the key itself is a mini puzzle, and you have to adjust it into the proper shape to fit the keyhole. Some things can’t be seen by the naked eye, in which case you have to get the help of a lens provided to you, which reveals hidden secrets and markings that usually require rearranging to fit a proper order.

If you get stuck, and I know I did several times, the game has a useful hint system that gently nudges you in the right direction. You get three hints per puzzle, starting from stating the obvious to pretty much telling you exactly what to do. I wish the hint system wasn’t so easy to use or had some sort of penalty because at times it is quite easy to just give up and use a hint instead of racking your brain further.

One the best things about The Room is how brilliantly it is optimized for the iPad’s hardware. There is no joystick and virtual button non-sense here. Tap on an object to zoom in and then interact directly with the objects on the screen. Slide on a ring to open it, turn the key to twist it, press a button operate it, pull a drawer to open it. This direct interaction with the objects help make you feel part of the game rather than just someone operating it from a distance. The game especially makes fantastic use of the gyroscope in certain levels, although mentioning that part would ruin the puzzle.

There is a creepy, haunting theme to the game, with an equally creepy backstory of a man who discovered some strange object with hidden powers. You learn about the story of the game through parchments that you find hidden inside the boxes and it slowly unfolds over the course of the game. It’s not exactly the greatest story ever told but helps set the tone of the game.

Graphics and Sound

One area where the game truly excels in are the visuals, which are unbelievably life-like. The wood on the boxes looks photorealistic, especially if you have the new iPad with the high resolution Retina display. The textures and the level of detail in the carpentry on some of these boxes is amazing and even when zoomed-in everything remains sharp and crystal clear. The lighting is also wonderful and sets the tone very well. And even with these detail-heavy visuals the game runs very smooth.

In terms of sound, the developers have done a good job making the game super creepy. Without the sound the game would have lost half its charm. It’s not about how much sound there is in this game, but rather how less of it there is. There is no background music at all. Sitting there in complete silence in a dark room of an abandoned house solving a riddle using clues left by someone who presumably is dead is quite an experience. The only occasional sounds you’ll hear are that of the machinery at work or the creaking of the house as you solve the puzzles. The best way to enjoy this game is in a dark room with your headphones on.

In terms of creating an atmosphere, both the visuals and the sound do a fantastic job.

Verdict

The Room has been a very unique experience for me. The puzzles are genuinely brilliant and the way they are presented is even more brilliant. It’s one of those games which, once you pick it up, you can’t put down unless you finish it.

Unfortunately, you will finish it very soon. It took me about four hours to go through all the puzzles in the game and in the end I was left wishing for more. However, you’re told in the end that there will be more levels in the future.

Still, despite its very limited nature, The Room is an adventure that must be experienced by anyone with an iPad. Few games generate the curiosity and amusement that this game does and are so hard to put down.

Rating: 4/5
Pros: Amazingly designed, intricate puzzles; simple, intuitive controls; beautiful, photorealistic visuals; haunting story and sound
Cons: Gets over very quickly

Note: If you’re going to purchase the game, and you should, I recommend not watching too much of the video below.

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