I have a very split mindset in regards to the mobile games market. It’s astonishing how quickly and powerfully the gaming market has entered the general public with Apple and Android. Gaming has gained huge momentum and the market has cracked wide open for new developers with interesting game ideas. On the other hand, I really dislike the direction the mobile market has taken videogames as a whole.
Still, it would be outright crazy for me to write off an entire platform of games so I hunted for some well-reviewed mobile games for my, then-new, android phone. Inspired by my first real life escape room experience, I bought ‘The Room’ published by FireProof Games.
At first, I was expecting an ‘escape-the-room’ game much like the old flash games in the past. Instead, ‘The Room’ is essentially a big puzzle-box game. By rotating the box and zooming in, the user must navigate the box and unlock its mysteries bit by bit. With hidden keys, password-encoded latches and a magical lens, I picked up The Room and found it exceedingly hard to put down. The puzzles are neither super easy nor are they all unfairly difficult, giving just the right frustration/satisfaction cycles with each new section. If this game was released on a different platform the difficulty could of course be ramped up, but as an on-the-go game ‘The Room’ finds just the right level.
The game looks stunning for the mobile platform, standing out from the other cartoon 2D or pixel games that flood the market. With ornate dark wood and old world latches, I was thoroughly impressed with the care taken to create such a specific look and feel. Surprisingly, even the controls were good in ‘The Room’, which could have ended in disaster. The puzzles in ‘The Room’ rely on very specific actions, such as turning a crank or lifting a latch which, in my case, had to be detected on a small screen. This is hard enough to do with a static screen, but allowing the player to rotate and change the point of view seems like it would make detecting a user’s intent very difficult. Despite this, there were almost no situations where I felt like the game wasn’t doing what I wanted it to or instances where the game let me solve a puzzle by randomly swiping around the screen.
I have yet to pick the sequels ‘The Room 2’ and ‘The Room 3’, but will gladly pay money into a game that doesn’t bombard me with ads or require me to constantly feed in dollars to get ahead.