When I read what Fireproof Games had to offer at Rezzed I immediately jumped at the chance to interview them about Omega Agent. VR games have always interested me and I couldn’t wait to try this one out as well as the Samsung Gear VR, to compare it with the Oculus Rift experience. They were also showcasing The Room Three, but at the time I had no idea what the series was about, though that changed rapidly.
The first game I tried was Omega Agent. I had a go at it and it was amazing! I loved the experience and it was so intuitive and fun I wanted to keep going and the Samsung VR was extremely comfortable and made me feel I was part of the world. When I was done, they had to pull up a set of baby wipes for my tears and a bucket for how much I drooled. It was just brilliant! And they didn’t judge me too harshly for the drool.
Visually, Fireproof went for what they call “stripped down” graphics, meaning simpler textures for the entire landscape, using the resources to instead focus on the experience and the missions you’ll play and I support that because the results are outstanding! The controls work really well and it is a genuinely fun experience. A fellow blogger I met at their booth compared it to Pilot Wings, and he was absolutely right. There’s so much freedom in just flying and keep going. One of the cool details they added is that if you look down, you can see your character’s hands move on the control sticks and the snazzy suit he’s wearing.
And because great and evil minds think alike, we both tried to go as high up as we could. He settled for the top of a tower while I set my eyes on the big mountain in the distance. We thought we were hot stuff but then Barry Meade, Fireproof Games Director and Co-Founder, told us we’d missed the ball entirely. We could’ve gone even past the clouds. I’m disappointed we didn’t think of that on our own!
The game’s setting is almost out of a classic James Bond film. You’re on a training island for new agents in the middle of the Cold War. You start of a just another trainee but as you complete missions in your nuclear jetpack, you’ll get promoted until you finally reach the coveted rank of Omega Agent. In Bond terms, you’re playing towards your 00 Status.
With at least 8 missions per rank, a great variety of mission types and an entire island to explore and find secrets in, Omega Agent promises to deliver so much jetpack-y fun! And that’s without considering you can just lose yourself flying over the island, which I’ll probably do more than anything else, enjoying the freedom and exploring every tiny hole and corner, looking for trouble, secrets and blueprints to unlock a more powerful jetpack.
The demo we played was just the tutorial plus a limited environment to explore, part of the training island. I say limited but the area was just massive, and I could have spent the entire day just flying around screaming Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee in my jetpack and snazzy suit, but I don’t think they would’ve let me.
But it’s not a problem. I’ll get my VR headset soon-ish, and then get the game as soon as it’s released which Barry assures isn’t that long away anyway.
The Room Three was a completely different beast. I came to the interview with only basic knowledge of the series, a bit of a faux-pass on my behalf I admit.
According to Barry, the idea came from trying to replicate a Chinese puzzle box in 3D. At this point I told him “Those things always remind me of Hellraiser!” and to my surprise he said, “You’re not that far off!” It started as a simple exercise but evolved into a horror-themed puzzle-focused adventure game, though Barry says the story itself isn’t really important, and he knows most players will ignore it and focus on the strange contraptions. Not me, I always look for a good story. Barry says they first focus on the puzzle design and make sure it works, but the story they just add the first thing they make up. To give them credit, they come up with some really cool stuff! The overall plot is Lovecraft meets Barker, Cthulhu vs Hellraiser. Ancient worlds and mysterious dimensions, madness and perception. How can you not love that?
As our conversation drew to an end, he told me to get the previous titles and give them a shot and he assured me they would run on my Galaxy S4. That night I installed and played them, going through the first title and straight into the second, but I couldn’t finish it. It was late and I had a 3rd Rezzed day to go! But I was hooked by the gameplay, the story and the outstanding atmosphere. I instantly became a The Room and Fireproof Games fan!
I returned that last day and told him of my experience and this time I grilled both Fireproof gentlemen about the puzzle design, considering how complex it was. I wanted to know what went into their development. According to both, the Creative Designer usually goes through the internet looking at old puzzles trying to find new ways to solve them, interesting antiques from which to extrapolate or they go back to the original puzzle box idea and get the most out of it. Then it’s test and rinse and repeat if the puzzle is no good.
If you haven’t played the previous The Room titles, I sincerely recommend you do, they are fantastic brainteasers and it’s the best way to get into The Room Three when it launches later this year. They’ve already completed the development but they’re delaying to polish it as much as possible. What I played of the demo was amazing, though I couldn’t finish it. It started on a simple train with relatively easy (for The Room veterans) tutorial-like puzzles showing you the controls and how to focus on objects. But once you had your eyepiece firmly in place, the game threw you off the deep end as the series often does–which is part of the fun! I made my way through the different puzzles until one of them stumped me completely. I tried my best to work it out but then my time ran out and I had to give the game to someone else.
Barry said I was close and revealed I might have overlooked something, a vital clue. That’s how it usually goes for me in adventure games–I love them but I’m impatient–so I didn’t feel too bad and I’d already cleared quite a lot of this multi-layered puzzle room.
The Room Three is coming for iOS first and then a few months later Android. While the game will conclude the current character’s story it doesn’t mean the end for the series as they are very keen on returning with new worlds, rooms and stories to tell!
If things go well in the next few months I’ll have an iPad so I don’t have to wait for an Android release. Oh, and check The Room on Steam if you can’t play it on your tablets and mobiles. The first game of the series is already on PC so now you don’t have an excuse anymore! Go and play it and enjoy the puzzling fun! And even though they’re a few years old, I will definitely review the previous two titles before the next one releases later this year!