Video game review: If you’re ready for a puzzle, then ‘The Room 3’ delivers – The Register-Guard

After about eight hours with The Room 3, the latest in Fireproof Games puzzle-solving series, its occurred to me that puzzle boxes exist simply to frustrate me. Not to say I didnt have fun wrapping my head around this Lovecraftian mystery, packed with multilayered puzzles and a story that is probably meant to be as confusing as it seems, but it can get so aggravating to not be able to figure out where to go next, you know? I guess thats why I dont mess with real-life puzzles nearly as often.

For those who played the previous games in the series, youll feel right at home here as The Room 3 possesses the same basic premise: You find yourself facing a complex puzzle box, but its inner workings are far more complex than you first imagine. Also, theres a science fiction/subtle horror thing going on. Just roll with it.

Your goal is simple: Solve the puzzle box that The Craftsman leaves behind for you. Or the mystery of The Craftsman himself. Or the puzzle so you can solve the mystery. Well, maybe its not simple, but its addictive fun. The tactile nature of the game (I played on an iPad) makes it feel like youre actually moving dials and twisting cranes in this clearly supernatural world. (Youre not, but you know how the brain functions.)

Where The Room 3 differs from its predecessors, however, is in its scale. This installment pushes the boundaries as it opens up the possibility that the answer to any particular puzzle isnt in the same room as you. In fact, some puzzles require multiple steps and area exploration before they can be solved, leaving you to freely roam around to solve these increasingly difficult puzzles.

But hey, as youre banging your head against the wall trying to solve the puzzle without resorting to the hint system, you can at least enjoy your gorgeous surroundings. The previous installments in the series looked great, and The Room 3 is no different. Drowning in well-crafted detail, the game is eye candy, which almost becomes necessary as you traverse through the same room repeatedly in an evermore desperate attempt to progress forward. As with the previous games, the tonal atmosphere is dark, in hues of black and blue and red and brown, but theres plenty of shift in color as you advance, making areas distinct from one another. (The game requires a lot of computing power, and even on a newer iPad it can stutter from time to time. Be aware of the system requirements for your individual device if you plan on getting it.)

Combine those beautiful graphics with some stellar sound design, and you have yourself one spooky mystery to solve. Throughout the game, a masterful mix of ambient tones and scene music work together to keep you on edge. Its not enough that the entire game possesses a creepy vibe, one that never seems to be addressed, but the music itself is enough to send chills down your spine while youre solving puzzles.

If you get stuck along the way (and you will at some point, trust me), the series hint system returns, offering you a way out of your puzzle-induced nightmare. It gradually gets more specific as you try to figure out what to do, ranging from really unhelpful hints (like telling you which room to go to next when you already know that) to more or less telling you exactly what you need to do to progress. You can turn the system off, which helps with immersion. Just dont be afraid to check it out if you cant find the next solution. Every little bit helps as you work your way toward the ending.

And dont just think theres one ending. There are multiple, which the game is all too happy to inform you about, basically saying, Hey, you beat the game. Congrats! Oh, that ending made no sense? Thats because you have to solve every puzzle in the game before you get the best ending. Try again.

Still, even if you unlock the other endings and watch them all, Im not sure they will help enlighten you. The overarching world of The Room 3, and the series universe in general, is happy with being vague to the point of confusing. It was pretty clear what was going to happen to the unseen character you control as you solve puzzle after puzzle, but it doesnt really matter what ending you get because it never really seems to connect to the greater picture. If The Craftsmans goal is obfuscation, then the man is a genius.

But that leads to one of my biggest complaints of the game (and the series): Why? Were three games in, and while I have a vague idea of whats happening around me (spoiler: trust no one), its well past time that some questions finally get answered. The Room 2 seemed to be taking steps toward that end, but its sequel simply jumps back into the fog of mystery. If it takes too long for the stinger to happen, then it stops being a stinger at all.

In the end, The Room 3 builds on what the series previous entries created, primarily excellent puzzles and a great atmosphere. While Im disappointed that I still have no real idea as to why any of this is happening, it was a blast to work my way through the puzzles one room at a time. Theres something very satisfying about solving a difficult puzzle, and The Room 3 overflows with those kinds of moments. Heres hoping the next puzzle we solve in The Room series is the one that matters most (and that I dont have to cheat I mean, use the hint system to figure it out).

You can contact Dominic, especially with game suggestions, at dominic.baez@registerguard.com or follow him on Twitter @Silver_Screenin. You can check out his blog at silverscreeningreview.com.

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Video game review: If you’re ready for a puzzle, then ‘The Room 3’ delivers – The Register-Guard

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