A mysterious invitation leads to the attic of an abandoned house. In the room is a cast-iron safe laced with strange carvings and on top, a note from your distant companion. It promises something ancient and astonishing concealed in the iron chamber – you need only find a way in.
Time Played: 3.4 hours
Console: PC, Switch, Mobile.
Recommended For: Escape Room Fans
Ask any escape room player with a passing interest in videogames for the quintessential ‘escape room but it’s a videogame’ experience and the chances are you’ll hear the name “The Room” by Fireproof Games tossed around! (No, not YOU Tommy Wiseau!) In fact, I only picked it up (8 years late, yes it came out in 2012!) after seeing it recommended so often on various escape room forums.
Having now clocked the game at 3.4 hours (given some breaks, some conferring, and only a little bit of button mashing), I can happily say it’s about as close to an escape room experience as is possible in a video game and worth all the praise it’s given! That said, the style of escape room is a ‘box on the table’ one. Essentially, whilst you are in a room, you’re actually interacting with a box in front of you. Sure, you can spin it around, move things, push buttons, slide panels and generally interact with everything you possibly like. But if you were hoping of more room to explore, perhaps a traditional escape room might be more appropriate.
With gameplay as absolutely mysterious and atmospheric as the title suggests, The Room will leave you with more questions than answers (in a good way – I’m already itching to get my hands on the sequel!). It’s a steampunk fantasy with just a dash of hieroglyphics and astrology ‘vibes’ woven throughout.
There’s very little in the way of introduction, no. The story instead is told through fragmented slips of paper of an inventor slipping into madness (or towards enlightenment? You decide!). Occasionally, reality bends. That is to say throughout the game you’re given an eyepiece which you can look through to see things which are not visible with the naked eye. The further into the murky depths of this universe you go, the more peculiar the things you’ll see through the eyepiece get. It begs the question – what is real? What isn’t real? Argh! I’m trapped!
The puzzles too are delightfully magical and border on the “impossible to recreate in real life”. But they’re also really clever – there’s almost no repetition and plenty I’d never, ever seen before in any real life experience. Regular readers on this blog will know I give high praise when I come across puzzles I’ve not seen before. The Room is PACKED with them.
There’s a lot of looking and searching (with or without that magic eyepiece). Often you’re hunting for keys, but more often than not the puzzles force you to think drastically outside of the box. If you thought a key was simple – try forging your own key to fit locks with hundreds of combinations, or carefully positioning beams of light to create special effects. There’s even a Rubix cube style puzzle to be solved with a charming solution! I love it!
So here’s where we get into the “okay but why did you put it on your escape room blog, Mairi?” Well… In terms of it’s comparison to an escape room, I’ve named it “as close as one can get”. But! And it’s a big but(t): the videogame format offers so much more than a simple escape room. It’s the same praise I load onto VR escape room experiences. The world of escape rooms are constrained by health and safety and special effects in a way the video game world is not. Puzzles are activated and solved by adjusting shapes in the sky that are not really there. Enormous contraptions unfold in front of you and vast mechanical systems fall into place. I don’t know about you but most escape rooms are built on a budget. I’m happy with a simple lock and key in a real room, but here, in the video game world – the possibilities are endless!
The graphics too are extremely immersive. Although I’m playing this game lazily from my laptop over the Christmas break, once I’m in the game, I’m in. They are remastered from the original, yes. I should also specify my PC runs the game much more beautifully than the mobile counterpart. But however you choose to play The Room – you’ll be impressed! It’s nothing short of beautiful.
Overall, such a highly recommended videogame for a fantastic escape room experience (whilst the real life games are still shut down here in the UK). It’s moody, mysterious, and immersive for a good 4 hours worth of “wow”.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief and covers escape rooms/immersive theatre in London, play at home games, and video games.