Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Room Two (Fireproof Games, 2013/2014)

It's sequel time again here at Hammer Down Reviews. Frequent readers may remember that a few months ago I posted a review for an indie mobile game called The Room. It was an extremely polished and creative take on the concept of the Escape-the-Room genre of gaming. As I mentioned in the review, I enjoyed the game a lot, so much so that I had to pick up a copy of the sequel as well. As with many games I'm so eager to download, it ended up just sitting on my phone staring at me for a while, but luckily I eventually found the time to sink into it. So, what exactly did I think of this follow up? Did it live up to the expectations set by it's predecessor? Let's find out, as I share my thoughts on The Room Two.

In my review of The Room, I mentioned that despite the name, the game isn't actually about the room itself, rather it's about a strange mechanical box inside the room. This time around, the game is actually about the room, or rather the rooms. Each level plants you in a different room of the mysterious old mansion of an eccentric scientist. Solving each room's puzzles grants you access to the next room, and its even more challenging brain teasers.

Gameplay in The Room Two retains the same tactile intuitiveness of the original, but expanded to incorporate the larger play areas. Dragging around the screen moves your viewpoint around a room, while pinch zooming focuses the camera on a single object or area, that can then be orbited as in the first game. These objects will in turn have parts that can be further zoomed into in order to interact with it. This gives you a lot more freedom of movement, and also increases the complexity of the puzzles. An item found hidden in one object might need to be used in another object across the room.

More thought is put into the story this time. The narrative is still pieced together from old letters found hidden in the various contraptions, but they come across slightly less as simply the ramblings of a mad man, and paint more of a picture around this mysterious new element known as Null, and all of the amazing potential and danger it possesses. These notes are also much more likely to contain necessary clues to the game's puzzles, so don't be surprised if you end up re-reading some of them a few times looking for subtle hints at hidden double meanings.

Visually, The Room Two continues the trend of having some of the most beautiful graphics I've seen in a mobile game. I can't say that it's a noticeable step up from the first title, but it's definitely the type of game you'd want to use to show off what your phone is capable of. While I'm generally glad that mobile games tend to reverse the trend of many current console franchises by placing more focus on gameplay and less on looks, it's still an unexpected treat when somebody puts this amount of detail into a game that you'll primarily be playing on the tiny screen in your pocket.

Once again, the designers managed to create an entire game worth of mind bending puzzles without ever repeating themselves. I don't know where they get all the inspiration, but hopefully they are able to keep this well of creativity flowing as the Fireproof Games website is already promising a 3rd installment of the series soon.

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