Those who enjoy a good puzzle video game like I do, may have heard about The Room series developed by British developer Fireproof Games. Although it was originally made for iOS, the developer released an Android version after only a six-month period, in March 2013. First available as a Humble Bundle collection, The Room is available as a single game now on Google Play Store.
The idea behind these games is pretty simple, although that is due to the developer’s limited budget at the time. You have to solve one puzzle box to access another while using your smartphone’s touchscreen to manipulate items. Of course, there is a story behind the puzzles, which you unravel as you solve each box.
The first game was sold in more than 6.5 million copies, and the overall series sale was 11.5 million in 2016. The game received many awards like BAFTA for Best British Game, New York Video Games Critics Circle Awards for Excellence in Visuals, and Game Developers Choice Awards for Best Handheld/Mobile Game, just to name a few.
The Room: Old Sins is the latest and fourth installment in the series, available for iOS, Android, and Amazon Kindle Fire. You play the role of an investigator who is searching the Waldegrave Manor in hopes of locating a missing couple, Edward and Abigail Lockwood – an engineer and his wife. You’ve looked over the entire house, and the last place to inspect is the attic. There you’ll find a dollhouse, which is actually one big puzzle collection that you must solve in order to conclude your story.
The atmosphere in the game is eerie, and you will find yourself thinking twice before taking a look in the nooks and crannies. Fireproof Games has already proven themselves as a very imaginative developer, flirting with the horror genre subtly and cunningly. You can feel something lurking in the shadows even though its presence is not clear to you.
Every piece of the puzzle is carefully thought through and gives you a clue where to look for the next one. The Eyepiece from the previous installments is still here and helps you peak into the Null world to solve the puzzles inside the boxes. Intelligent and clever design with a splash of Victorian England, gives this game a mysterious tone that will only make you more true to your Sherlock Holmes-like role. The game uses tactile mechanics to create its narrative and tell a story about endings and collapses, when chasing your dreams turns into nightmares.
Nonetheless, don’t be alarmed with such comparison. Before you start the game, you will take a tutorial which will help you get the hang of things. With swipes, pinches, and taps, it’s quite easy to get around in the game, although it may present a challenge at moments. The sound in the game is just what you would expect from the art in the game. Ominous sounds will appear whenever something is about to happen, which will only make you more nervous.
The house is complicated at first glance, but you will be able to get around it pretty smoothly and without any unnecessary snooping around. If you haven’t played any game from The Room series, my advice is not to worry because you can play this one regardless of that. It’s more important if you ever played puzzle games before, since they require certain patience and thinking, therefore that experience would make it easier to get a grasp of things here. But, that is not a prerequisite to play this game, since the tutorial is really great and you will get into shape by the time you ruin the foyer.
The ending is quite unnerving and will leave you wondering for a few minutes before you read the note from Edward to Abigail, attached to the dollhouse fence. You already know that something is really wrong with the house, but the somewhat Lovecraftian ending makes it a nice finish to the story. You will feel a bit overwhelmed since the path you choose seems to take you to more puzzles every time you solve them.
However, I promise that it’s a satisfactory conclusion in the end, that perfectly fits this kind of dark narrative. Allow me to tell you that in the end, you will find a shiny object that’s been present in all of the games right from the start, and with it a secret that will change your perspective on the entire storyline.
Enter the madness
The gameplay will take you four to five hours to finish, although it all depends on you. Don’t rush it, but try and enjoy the puzzles and story which are well intertwined. On the other hand, this is a puzzle game that moves pretty straightforward, so don’t expect any more elaborate gameplay like you had an opportunity to play in the horror adventure genre.
When you feel you are becoming anxious or tired, take a break and leave the game for another time, when you are rested. This is an interesting and curious game, so it would be a shame to ruin the sinister ambience it can create for the players.
If anything, I would recommend playing it with lights out and in complete silence, preferably with headphones on, so you can truly immerse yourself in the world of The Room: Old Sins.