By Michael Fontanini / June 30th, 2016
|Title||Crimson Room: Decade|
|Developer||Dream Holdings, TAKAGISM Inc.|
|Publisher||Degica, Dream Holdings|
|Release Date||June 10th, 2016|
|Platform||PC (Steam), Mac App Store|
You, Jean-Jacques Gordot, have awoken to find yourself alone in a strange red room. You are laying on an old bed that’s bolted to the floor, and a yellow dresser sits against the opposite wall. A calendar decorates the wall across the room from the only exit, a locked blue door made of steel. There is one small window, but you can’t see anything through it. Only flashes of lightning occasionally come in through the dirty glass. You get up to look around, but there are only a few items scattered about the room at first glance. This bizarre red room gives you a strange sense of Deja vu… Can you find a way to escape this crimson prison?
Crimson Room: Decade is actually the sequel to an old Flash game, called Crimson Room. The game starts up with an optional video sequence that gives a little bit of backstory. At the end of the video you get a screen full of text giving a bit of additional backstory. This text is not necessary to enjoy the game, which is good since it doesn’t stay on-screen long enough to read it all. The intro video also uses an annoying film-grain effect, but thankfully the game itself does not.
Once you’ve woken up and some text expressing your internal thoughts has gone away, you are free to explore the room. Your objective is to search for anything that might help you, even in the slightest way. Items you find are deposited on top of the yellow dresser, but you can pick them up again at any time. You can only hold/use one item at a time, though. You will also find diary entries written by your Grandfather as you progress. They provide some backstory but don’t play a direct part in the gameplay. Your initial survey of the room will turn up only a couple of items, but there are indeed more.
Crimson Room: Decade‘s items can be used alone on other objects in the room, or combined with other items. Figuring out what to do with the items you have can be a very tricky affair. Sometimes you will feel completely lost, until perhaps you happen to notice something that you hadn’t before. Some items can’t be used for anything until later, adding a bit of extra confusion. You can place an object in your hand back on the table by right-clicking, and choosing “PUT”, or by taking another item off of the dresser.
The bulk of the gameplay in Crimson Room: Decade is figuring out what to do with the items you’ve found. There is one very noticeable gameplay flaw, though, which is that the player movement is rather clunky, unfortunately. Regardless, you never quite know if you have what you need, or if there is another item you haven’t found yet. This gives the game a strong sense of mystery, although it can become annoying if you find yourself too stuck. The game does feature a simplistic time system that you can manipulate during the room’s first state. For example, there are a few symbols on the calendar, and one of them appears somewhere in the room. Look in that spot on the day marked with the same symbol, and you might find something new there.
As hinted at above, the room has several states that it will transition through as you progress. The room itself is able to rotate at a few points in the game. Certain actions on your part will cause the room to change in this way. This shakes things up and sees you having to figure out where some items ended up after the room changed. It’s a nice touch that gives you a little break from puzzle solving for a bit while you’re finding items again. You may also find some new ones at these times. When you’re ready, you can take on the next batch of puzzles and continue your escape attempt.
The graphics are nice overall, but there is one minor flaw. The textures look a bit flat largely because the game does not use any bump mapping. That’s a very minor nitpick, though. As for the sound effects, they do their job rather well. A good example is the sound of the dresser drawers scraping a bit as you open or close them. This makes that dresser truly feel like it really is a very old piece of furniture. On the music side of the sound presentation, the game opts to go without much background music at all. It goes instead for a very atmospheric feeling by using some subtle background tracks to build up that ambiance.
As far as options go, the game doesn’t have all that many. When entering options from the main menu, you have three options. You can change the language of in-game text to any of eight languages. You can change the in-game lighting by selecting one of three illumination levels. And the other option lets you set the graphics detail level to low, medium, or high. Interestingly, if you enter options from the pause menu while in-game, you get some new options. From here, you can set the lighting level as before, but not the language or graphics detail level. You can however, set the volume level as well as two other new options. These allow you to enable mouse smoothing and change the mouse sensitivity. There are notably no options for changing the controls, but this isn’t a big deal.
Crimson Room: Decade is an interesting little game. It’s an enjoyable adventure that’s very puzzling at times. The player movement is a bit clunky, and replay value is limited. Once you’ve beaten the game, you’ll know the puzzle solutions, but there are achievements for things like finding all of the diary entries. There is also at least one hidden achievement. In total, one play-through can take you from a few hours to a few days depending on how much you play. Subsequent playthroughs are much faster once you know the puzzle solutions. It also depends on how stuck you might get and whether or not you go for all of the achievements. The game is available on Steam for $9.99. Crimson Room: Decade is the game that locks you in a strange red room and challenges you to find a way to escape.
Review copy provided by publisher.
Crimson RoomCrimson Room: DecadedegicaDream HoldingsTAKAGISM Inc.