An Escape Room with a Unique Twist
Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 cult disasterpiece movie The Room was written with the intent that all of the scenes would take place in the same room. Wiseau, as writer and director, wanted to show one room’s potential to host a variety of different events. But as any fan of hilariously bad cinema knows, Wiseau couldn’t stick to that premise. Instead, he made one of the worst, most confusing movies of all time. He should have handed over the script to the developers at Rusty Lake who made Samsara Room, a great game that takes place entirely within the confines of a single, four-walled room.
Samsara Room is a remake of a game made in 2013. To celebrate the five year anniversary of the studio they founded, developers Robin Ras and Maarten Looise are rereleasing Samsara Room, the first game they made together before founding Rusty Lake’s. This updated 2020 version of the game contains new puzzles and bonus content.
Four Walls of Fun
The objective of the game is to escape the Samsara room. “Samsara” is a Sanskrit word that refers to the endless cycle of death, rebirth and reincarnation that features in many Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Practitioners of these religions view Samsara as unfulfilling, and they hope to escape its endless cycle by achieving enlightenment. The objective in the game is similar; the only way you can hope to escape the room—and the cycle of reincarnation within—is to become enlightened. In this game, enlightenment equates to solving an assortment of puzzles that test creativity, patience, memory and overall mental acuity.
You use your finger to interact with items around the room. You can poke, prod, pull and drag objects to solve puzzles that yield various objects. There is no tutorial at the beginning, or any verbal description of the room. But there’s no need for either of those things.
Playing the game is an immersive, tactile activity, and one that comes intuitively. To solve puzzles, you think with your finger. Many times, feeling will take over for the other senses: you can touch the sounds that come out of a telephone or peel back the frame of a painting. At some point when you get stuck you will drag your finger across every inch of the walls, feeling around for the piece that will help you advance as if you are trying to claw your way out of the room.
No Exit in Sight.
By placing objects you find on an altar in one of the walls in the room, you can open a dimensional window that will reincarnate you as a different animal. You then return back to the room, but the perspective will have changed drastically. For instance, when you become a fish, the room is submerged with water, or when you become a gecko, the room will be upside-down. You’ll need to travel back and forth between these incarnations and use the different perspectives to achieve enlightenment (and beat the game).
Besides incorporating religious concepts, Samsara Room also continues a story told in other Rusty Lake games. However, you don’t need to know anything about either of them to enjoy this game. The atmosphere inside the room is enchantingly eerie, and is compelling enough despite whatever themes and plot points exist otherwise. Sometimes the taps of your finger will reveal something surprising and unsettling, like the limb of a dead body or a movable human eye on a wall. The tone is solid and consistent throughout. The only music in the entire game, a minimalist piano score, is simultaneously hypnotic and creepy and doesn’t waver even in the most jarring moments.
Samsara Room stretches the boundaries and limits of one room, and its puzzles will make you think. The four walls in this game aren’t overflowing with objects, but when you spend time investigating them thoroughly, you will notice there is a lot going on. It’s relaxing but not sleepy. It’s thoughtful but not pretentious. It’s disturbing but not gaudy. And it’s free, too.
A cool meditation on life, death, and whatever goes on in between, Samsara Room is a claustrophobic funhouse with puzzles that will open your mind up.