You thought you got out, you thought you could forget it…but the pull of the Null is too strong and now you’re back where you started, back in The Room.
Genre(s): Puzzle | Horror
Developer: Fireproof Games
Publisher: Fireproof Games
Release Date: November 2015
Played: Full playthrough, all endings
Platforms: iOS & Android
I first discovered The Room series in 2015 during Rezzed. I met the developers—who at the time were showing off this title—and on confessing I knew nothing of the series, they told me they were on the Android marketplace if I wanted to give them a shot. So I did, and after a night of intense puzzling, I came back the next day to interview them not just as a journalist anymore, but a fan! We spoke of how the Lamentation Configuration from Hellraiser and Chinese puzzle boxes were the inspiration behind the first title in the series, and how that had carried over to its sequels.
Now I’ve had chance to play the latest entry into The Room and I’m happy to say that it’s still as amazing as ever.
The game picks up months after your escape from AS’ house in The Room 2. As you ride a train, you enter a tunnel and suddenly a box is in front of you. Curious as ever, you solve its mystery and your prize is your arrival in another place. You’re in The Craftsman’s workshop, his home. In the many places around this central hub he built many of the gadgets and puzzle boxes you found in the previous two titles. This time he needs you, as your ingenuity is the key for him to finally unlock the secrets of the Null.
But something is amiss. The more you play, the more you discover the true nature of your new patron, and like me, you’ll have doubts about his intentions. But unless you unlock all the puzzles, and find all the clues, you won’t know what his true motives are!
Much like its predecessors, The Room 3 has a deep compelling story told in notes, some of them directed at you and others, the hidden ones, revealing the Craftsman’s personality and past deeds. While previous entries in the series focused on the nature of the Null and the people that lost everything in their pursuit, The Room 3 focuses on a single character, this man who seems to be the first among many lost souls, yet still captivated and obsessed with the secrets of the Null Element.
But while you discover many things, a lot is still open to interpretation and your own theories, particularly when you consider the multiple endings. Which one is canon? A couple of them open the way for more games in the series, perhaps with different characters or different places, but who knows which is the real one!
But your discoveries only come through puzzling, through working out the complex clockwork machinery that dominates the space in the Craftsman’s workshop. There are inventory puzzles, each taking you a step further towards a new set of intricate mechanisms and more revelations. One of my favourites is the Forge, where you need to bring it to life before you can move on and solve the giant puzzle box in the centre of the room. Though to be honest, I love all of the locations, they all have wonderfully designed brain-teasing puzzles.
Your new improved eyepiece can even let you dive into the tiniest of holes and see the secrets within, something used extensively and never even a tiny bit less awe-inspiring. My favourite was a mannequin puzzle where you jump into multiple layers of the same room, each jump connected to a different part of the mannequin. It was surreal and amazing, yet also chilling.
Fireproof Games retains their flair for creating an amazing atmosphere and in the Room 3, the permeating feeling isn’t just dread of the unknown, but also as if a great threat loomed over you, as if failure wasn’t an option. More perplexingly though, considering you only see your host once, is the ever-present feeling of being watched, of knowing that you are another rat trapped in a finely constructed maze. Once I picked up The Room 3, I couldn’t put it down, the atmosphere caught me and the puzzles kept me there.
The atmosphere comes from both the stunning visuals, complete with intricate details that reveal much of the Craftsman’s personality as his writing does, and the minimalist approach to music. Aside from the memorable if not a bit chilling main theme song, music is largely absent, except for some environmental tunes here and there to help build the creepy atmosphere around a given location. But it’s in the sound effects where Fireproof do their job perfectly, with dozens of elements that make the rooms feel alive, as if you could walk there on your own and touch. Wood creaks, metal plates clang when they strike surfaces and gears grind endlessly. It is superb.
It is without a doubt the best-looking game on mobile. The graphical level is on part with most modern PC games. To this day I’m amazed that mobile doesn’t blow up while running The Room 3.
When I finished the game and achieved all endings, my only regret was that I couldn’t keep playing the game anymore. That is the only negative I can think of for this game: it ends and I didn’t want it to!
It is a flawless first person adventure game.
5/5 – Highlander!