by Travis Fahs0
The Room Two Review
Room Without a Window, Can’t See Out
Scour the Play Store, and you’re bound to find countless “Escape the Room” variants, each barely distinguishable from the next. In the noise it might be easy to glance at The Room and think it was similar, but Fireproof’s puzzle-adventure was something genuinely unique and special. It might have been more appropriately titled The Box, as it consisted of nothing more than a series of progressively more complex puzzle boxes nested inside one another. Thick on atmosphere, with gorgeous graphics and a creepy, ambient soundscape, it was one of the platform’s true must-play titles. It’s narrow scope almost added to its intrigue and appeal, distinguishing it from the wide-open ambiguity of similarly atmospheric titles like Riven.
For the sequel, Fireproof has attempted to make everything bigger and better without totally abandoning what made the original work. No longer is the game limited to nesting lockboxes, instead giving you full rooms full of hidden compartments and curious devices rather than just building them all into one incredibly complicated and improbable contraption. Mechanically, this changes very little. You move between pre-defined nodes, with no ability to wander freely, so the net result is more or less the same.
The added breadth does help to bolster the atmosphere that had already been the series’ hallmark, however. Like its predecessor, The Room 2 is a graphical stunner, full of intricate details, and rendered with as much realism as a mobile processor can muster. All of the game’s environments are dark and eerie, seemingly dislocated in time and space. There’s little sense of an overall “world” that the game occupies, as much as a disorienting series of small locales that feel cut off both from each other and the outside world. A stronger sense of narrative pervades, as well, and although it’s discovered entirely in retrospect, without the presence of on-screen characters or cinematic cut-scenes, poring over the notes and pictures left behind can be downright creepy.
At its core, this is still very much an adventure game, but it smartly embraces the strengths of the mobile platform and its interface as a part of its design. This is not only a game that works on a mobile device, it’s one that couldn’t work anywhere else. Puzzles range from classic adventure inventory puzzles, to logic puzzles and all manner of unique mechanisms. Many of these involve gestures, and some even involve manipulating more than one thing at once with multiple fingers, or even tilting the device. This all proves to be more satisfying and more tactile than simply tapping or clicking as in a traditional adventure.
The Room 2 is certainly a bigger, broader sequel, with more to explore and see, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s deeper or even longer. The five chapters don’t really take much longer than the boxes in the first game, nor do the pose any more challenge. The same hint system from the first is intact, allowing players to access a series of progressively less subtle nudges when stuck. For the experienced adventure gamer, these probably won’t even be necessary, and The Room 2 should be perfectly accessible to those new to the genre. Like the original, you can beat the game in a long sitting if you want, although playing one or two of the game’s 15-20 minute-long chapters at a time is probably more appealing.
While superficially the larger scope of The Room 2 might seem to sacrifice some of the original’s purity, it ultimately doesn’t stray as far as you’d think. This is still a game of small worlds, careful scrutiny, and clever puzzles, with some added visual variety and sense of progress. For those that have been craving more since the original’s release, The Room 2 delivers something that feels new, without changing all that much.
Summary: Although it’s a small evolution over the first, The Room 2 has no shortage of fresh, creative puzzles, coupled with larger and more diverse locales to explore, for a bigger, broader experience.