By Stacey Flewelling / May 27th, 2015
|Title||Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle|
|Release Date||1 May 2015|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Everyone|
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects about the indie game market is the sheer quantity of spectacularly creative games that come down the pipe for us to discover and enjoy. I think my favourite thing about being an indie game aficionado and player versus a triple-A game player is that I get to dabble with games that the mainstream audience has virtually no clue exists. It makes me feel like a trendsetter when I find a diamond in the rough and begin my quest of promoting the game to friends and family so that they can take pleasure in just as equally as I do.
Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle, a sequel to the Nintendo DS game Rooms: The Main Building, was released on Steam on 1 May 2015, and was created by HandMade Game. It is a puzzle adventure game that seems like it was indeed handmade, as it has a scrapbook feel to the visuals. It has 144 masterfully crafted levels. Its gameplay reminds me of those little slider games by which you manipulate tiles in order to restore either a picture or arrange tiles in sequential order from one to however many tiles are on the board, sans one. I am super excited whenever a puzzle game debuts in the gaming landscape because I think the puzzle genre is by far the most creatively sound genre in the video game industry.
That being said, the game starts with a story: You are Anne, a small girl who finds a spooky and mysterious mansion which has appeared outside. Not heeding the warnings that the mansion is not something to be reckoned with, Anne enters the mansion and finds herself trapped within its box-like atmosphere. What you discover is that the original owner, a toymaker, discovered a magically-infused puzzle piece that enables him to make toys.
The concept of the game is fairly straightforward. You are tasked with manipulating the room. The room is essentially comprised of cuboid pieces by which you traverse through the level. You have to acquire a key and make your way to the exit. You click arrows on each of the room pieces to slide them in the direction the arrow points. You can also use a controller if you have one and use the face buttons and analog stick to manipulate Anne through the level.
You are given an assortment of tools (which I’ll explain later) throughout the game to make travelling a bit easier such as a telephone, ladders and worm holes. Solving puzzles requires some amount of pre-planning as you don’t want to find yourself moving the pieces too often since solving the puzzles with as little moves as possible gives you more golden puzzle pieces at the conclusion of the room. The golden puzzle pieces do nothing aside from awarding milestone trophies along the way and are a method of gauging your skill in solving each room. To advance through the mansion, you need to finish each level in order.
Some of the gameplay essentials that aid you in solving the puzzles are wardrobes that will trade sections of a room, though not moving you at all, which I found sweet. Those worm holes I mentioned earlier will exchange two sections of a room and whisk you off with them. There are some fun elements to the game that make it either challenging or easier (depending on how you look at it) to help you solve puzzles. Magnets, for example, will attract and repel room pieces, and bombs will blow holes in walls making it easier for you to travel about. Another interesting aspect of the game mechanics is that, if you have the room piece in the right area, it will no longer be black and white. It will become coloured and vibrant, much like the game itself.
Speaking of the vibrancy of the game, the game’s artwork is beautiful. As I mentioned earlier, it reminds me of a scrapbook with random pieces glued together to form each of the room’s puzzle pieces. The feel of the game reminded me somewhat of Tomorrow Corporation’s Little Inferno. As a fan of steam punk-themed art, I definitely got that vibe with the interface. There are gears spinning, and an old lantern serves as a method of giving you a slight hint as to what the finished puzzle should look like if you click and hold it. In addition, you’ll notice puzzle pieces on the upper left corner’s gear. The fewer moves you make to solve a puzzle, the more puzzle pieces you get. It’s sort of like a way to gauge how good you are at solving puzzles.
The sound effects are something that I actually have some issues with. I found them to be very loud and abrupt. While you can alter the volume in the settings, I still found the game to be rather noisy, and it gave me a headache after playing for a while. I had to mute the sound in order to play through which, as an audiophile, disappointed me significantly. I value sound engineering in games, and to have to have the game’s sounds non-existent took away from my experience with the game overall. The music, regrettably, was hit much in the same way the sounds were. I will say that I did enjoy the music. It felt like I was playing through a virtual fairy tale, and there were times that I felt like getting up and doing a ball room waltz. I really do wish that the sound and music settings had sliders rather than four preset volume levels.
Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle is a brilliant game and well worth the $10 price tag. It took me about 20 hours to complete the game as I was trying to go the route of completing puzzles perfectly, but I honestly feel like it might take you less time if you’re not up for perfecting each level. There isn’t much replay value after you’ve aced all the rooms. I highly recommend this game if you’re into games that force you to use your brain and are into puzzle strategy games. I wonder if this will make it to the Wii U, though, or heck, the 3DS since the first game was on Nintendo DS. Only time will tell!
Review Copy Provided by Publisher
HandMade GameroomsRooms The Unsolvable Puzzle