The Room Three is all about atmosphere and puzzle solving. Graphics come second, the story a distant third, but the elegant design and beautiful world created here more than make up for any narrative shortcomings. The result is an excellent addition to the franchise that any fan of the first two should experience.
If you’ve played The Room before, you know what to expect. The basic premise is exploring a well rendered and compelling environment, while solving puzzles with item management and a touch screen interface. All three revolve around a central puzzle that is broken down into smaller steps; think finding a key to open a box to find the directions to rotate a crank, etc. The puzzles are very well designed, and as someone who sucks at puzzle games and is easily frustrated, this is a pretty serious endorsement. There is a hint system I’m not ashamed to say I used, (ok, yes I am ashamed) and that makes it almost impossible to get completely stuck.
Where the game really shines is in the graphics and the atmosphere. It is a beautiful game; lovingly textured objects and intriguing backgrounds make it a joy to explore. The Room Three is deeply moody, with a gloomy aesthetic and an air of mystery that is very compelling. It never veers into horror territory, but there is certainly a pervasive sense of loneliness, darkness and dread. From an artistic and design perspective, this game is almost unparalleled by any competition. I highly recommend playing on a tablet if possible; it lends itself to the larger screen.
While playing The Room Three I rediscovered the feeling I had the first time I played Myst. For you younger gamers, feel free to skip ahead to the next paragraph because I’m about to sound old as hell. For those of you who remember, that fascinating sense of discovery and beauty in isolation as you finally solve the next puzzle is wholly present here. Imagine Myst updated with exceptional graphics, great gameplay, and completely portable. Sounds pretty damn good right?
Story is The Room Three’s primary weakness. With such exceptional atmosphere and intriguing aesthetic design, I was hoping for a story worthy of the setup. Sadly it does not deliver, and is vague and opaque in a way that I did not find endearing. I am perfectly happy with subtlety and slow reveals, but by the end of this game I had very little sense that I was closer to understanding what was happening then when I started. It may seem overly critical to begrudge a mobile game a lack of story, but with such attention to detail paid to everything else, it stood out as a weakness.
The Room Three is a must buy for the right person. If you enjoy puzzle games, atmosphere, and slow paced, thoughtful gameplay buy it immediately. If you prefer twitch shooters or story driven games, I wouldn’t recommend it. The Room Three is an excellent addition to the series, and if you loved the first two, you will enjoy this one even more.
And for the last time, no, Tommy Wiseau was not involved. Though that would have made for a very interesting game I’m sure.