How to Play the Crimson Room (2004)

You wake up in a Crimson Room, suffering from retrograde amnesia. You don’t know where you are, or how you got there. All you know is that you need to escape this mysterious red room. The objective is simple. Find the key to the door and escape. Search for clues around the room and look for clues that help you reach your goal of escaping.

Developer: Toshimitsu Takagi
Console: PC (Flash)
Number Of Players: 1

About The Crimson Room

The Crimson Room is widely credited as one of the first ever ‘traditional’ escape games created. For sure, many previous TV shows and teambuilding games are similar – such as The Crystal Maze in 1990, or The Adventure Game in 1980, but Toshimitsu Takagi’s Crimson Room pips the post for what we understand an escape room to be today. Created for Fasco-Cs, the exploration game has you wake up in an unfamiliar space – a locked room. Hidden around the room are a number of clues and puzzles that are the key to escaping.

The Crimson Room Escape Game 2004

The OG Escape Room Video Game!

“Hey Russ, I tracked down the original file for The Crimson Room, the original escape room video game! Are you up for playing it?” asks Mairi.

I mean I’m obviously curious as to what was developed 17 years ago. My interest was piqued with questions I wanted answers for.

Is it an important historical escape game artefact that paved the way for present-day games?
Is it still relevant?
Does the file even load?!

Well the last one I can answer a yes to, however you need the .swf game file and a browser flash emulator online to play it; it’s not as simple as streaming it off a dedicated site. Thankfully, I had both ready to go!

Where (and How) to Play The Crimson Room Escape Game

As a flash game from the early 2000s, it’s not an easy one to track down, especially if you want to avoid dodgy links on the internet. So here’s how we played the game (reliable and accurate as of 2021):

  1. Download the SWF file here (please note: this URL is hosted externally on Free Room Escapes)
  2. Choose a Flash emulator. We used this one: http://flashplayer.fullstacks.net
  3. Select “Choose File” and upload your SWF file and select an emulator of your choice from the drop down (we used “Flash Emulator 1”)

And now, it’s time to escape!

The Premise

You’ve woken up in a crimson coloured room (hence the title) after too many drinks the night before. You can’t remember how you got there but you know you need to escape. Cue searching for items!

The Look and Feel of The Crimson Room

I mean absolutely no disrespect from this, but the game looks to have been made in MS Paint. The visuals are simple but striking with its bold colours and geometric-centric models. Special mention to the projector puzzle with it’s dancing animation, which back then I imagine was deemed as super impressive.

The Gameplay and Control

Most of the game consists of searching for items in a linear fashion, to edge further and further to successful escape. There are some unlocking of drawers, a placement meta puzzle and a single 4-digit combination safe.

Also there is a clue that directs you to a real website which has the answer to the safe combination. Well… it did. The site is no longer active. For the record, if you need the code to the safe; it’s 1994. That being said however, this puzzle mechanic of searching via an external website page, is rife in present-day online escape games. Quite innovative, this being executed over a decade prior to games we are more accustomed to.

Control wise, its a double-click method for everything ie: click in the corners of the screen to look around the room. Being so used to pushing a mouse to turn around, this took getting some used to, but hey; it’s 2004, this was a totally acceptable form of control back then.

The Duration

As to be expected, it’s just one room. The longevity of it however is arguably extended by its requirement to be precise with mouse pointer clicks. There are a few areas in the room that are hard to get to (and subsequently gain integral items), unless you do some mass trial-and-erroring with mouse clicks. In this day and age, this could be deemed as a massive no-no for escape games. It also adds additional fire to the debate of games in the 20th and very early 21st century, being harder to complete due to unfair or frustrating mechanics… but that’s a thought (or article) for another time! Again however, not a criticism; just a commentary on the historical difference.

The Verdict

Is this a game to rush to play? Probably not.

Is this a game to view and appreciate how far escape games have come since 2004? Absolutely.

Crimson Room doesn’t offer much when compared to present-day gaming standards, but the ideas that it spawned most certainly helps it to walk, so future escape games could run.

If you don’t want to play it, but still want to view to scratch your curiosity itch, see this super-fast walkthrough here 👇

Author

  • RussBuilds is an independent escape game designer. Here, he is writing on video games and escape rooms in the middle of the UK.

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