Review: The Room Three09 Nov 2015 0
Review: The Room Three
Released 04 Nov 2015
If you've played The Room or The Room Two, you pretty much know what to expect from The Room Three. Fireproof Games hasn't altered the formula nor added anything new to the mix that could, in any context, be called daring. No, they figured out something that has worked for two enormously popular games, and they're sticking to it.
This may sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. When I finished The Room Two, all I wanted was to spend more time in this universe solving puzzles. The Room Three gives me that, and does it in spades.
The Room Three is a first-person, on rails puzzle game who's earliest ancestor is probably Myst. In fact, the Room games are all remarkably Myst-like, containing strange puzzles with only a hint of plot. To be honest, I have no idea what the plot of The Room games is, other than there's something called Null and it does stuff. Apparently it's evil in a Lovecraftian way, maybe? The devs really try to imbue the game with a spooky backstory, but at the end of the day I have no idea what the hell is going on in the world of The Room, or why I should care. Luckily, it doesn't matter all that much. What does matter are the puzzles and, in that regard, The Room Three delivers.
Like it's predecessors, The Room Three puts you in the mute shoes of someone trapped and looking for a way out. Here, you're plucked from a train into a central hub from which there is only one door. That door leads you to a room that is, itself, a puzzle. Figure it out and you get transported to an area of the island which is itself a giant puzzle. Finish that and you open more doors in the central hub, rinse and repeat. While it sounds repetitive, that's the appeal of The Room Three. The Room presents an entire building as the puzzle, and each smaller step moves you closer to unraveling the bigger picture. Once completed, you have an entire new building to figure out. It's kind of like finishing The Room Two and then having an entire new Room game to play through, and then another, and another.
The game is staggeringly beautiful, and the puzzles all have a wonderfully tactile feel that's common to The Room games. You'll be zooming in to physically turn keys or slide latches or unscrew bolts. Drawers need to be physically slid open and cupboards opened and closed. This use of the touchscreen makes The Room Three incredibly immersive, but at a cost. You not only swipe to flip switches and latches, you also swipe to move your camera. If you've been cursed with giant sausage fingers, like me, you'll encounter switches or levers that you're trying to move and instead moving the camera around like it's on the back of a rabid monkey. It makes some puzzles more frustrating than anything; you know the solution, or at least the next step, but end up moving the camera all over instead.
The previous games have offered you an eyepiece which lets you see "Null", which opens up many hidden puzzles. The Room Three has the same eyepiece, but you're given an attachment which lets you enter, in miniature, many of the puzzles. For example, one puzzle has a room greatly inspired by HBO's Game of Thrones' opening credit sequence. You can use your eyepiece to shrink down and enter some of the miniature buildings you find on the table. In all, I found it a gimmick and not really necessary, but it did allow Fireproof to add more puzzles into a smaller area, so for that I'm thankful.
If The Room Three has a downside, it's that it's very short. While larger than the previous games, I still managed to finish the main game in about 4 hours. This iteration offers new puzzles after the main quest is finished via three different endings which you can unlock. I found the search for these endings and the puzzles that went along with them to be the hardest, and most fun, parts of the entire game. Still, I managed to complete all three endings in another hour or so, making The Room Three something that can easily be completed in under six hours.
The controls aren't perfect and it's still on the short side, but The Room Three delivers exactly what you're promised: brooding and beautiful atmosphere with epic-length puzzles to solve. Much like the previous two Room games, I couldn't stop playing it once I began and I wanted it to keep going when I reached the end. Is it too early to ask when The Room Four will be coming out?