Review

The Room Two Review

Have you ever really listened to the sound of a door unlocking? It’s not a special or notable sound, just a soft little *click.* In daily life, it’s mundane and barely noticeable. But in The Room Two, that little *click* is the sound of success. It means you flipped a switch, found a key, or solved a puzzle. It means new doors are opening, both literally and figuratively. It is the sound of new surprises and challenges. It’s the sound that brings you one step closer to the last secret.

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The Room Two is a first-person puzzle game, controlled entirely with the mouse. Your goal is to navigate through gloomy, isolated environments by exploring your surroundings and solving puzzles. Finding the puzzles can be a challenge in itself. Every room contains boxes, cabinets, and other objects that you must carefully examine in order to progress. As you scan the objects in the room, you find drawers, switches, and dials which can be manipulated to reveal items, clues, and puzzles. But that’s only the beginning. Boxes that look simple on the outside will often have lots of hidden drawers and compartments. Rooms are layered and complex, and in order to advance you will need to scour every corner.

Players collect items which can be used for various purposes. Batteries power machinery, screwdrivers disassemble objects, and keys do exactly what you’d expect them to do. Items are first collected and later consumed when you find the right place to use them.

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The game’s puzzles can often–though not exclusively—be broadly categorized. Many involve finding and deciphering instructions in order to enter a code, while others involve unlocking objects by sliding tiles around. Early in the game, you collect an eyepiece that lets you see otherwise invisible objects, and sometimes you need to wear this in order to advance. These basic concepts appear time and again, but there’s a great amount of visual variance in how these puzzles are presented. It works so well that you might not notice when concepts begin to repeat. There’s a formula to how The Room Two is constructed, but it’s constantly being remixed and repackaged. The scope is limited, but it works.

The game is successful as an introduction to The Room series, but is somewhat middling as a sequel. It doesn’t offer much new material to those who played the first game. The set pieces are bigger, and each room is more superficially complex, but the puzzles are all very samey. Some of them are even direct repeats, like a key that can be manipulated into taking on different shapes. Fans of The Room will enjoy the sequel, but not as much as they did the first time around. The games are just too similar.

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By their very nature puzzle games can become frustrating due to the fact that it’s possible to become stuck. There’s nothing worse than sitting around, scouring the same areas over and over again, trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do. If this never happened, the game would risk being too easy, and if it happens all the time, the game becomes as boring as a hunk of discarded drywall.

Fortunately, The Room Two presents an elegant solution by way of a well-implemented “Hint” system. Many players will bristle at the thought of taking hints in a puzzle game, and that’s totally fine. Hints can be turned off or ignored, but when the player chooses to view them, the hints do a good job of nudging the player in the right direction without completely spoiling solutions. This is great when you’re between puzzles and you catch yourself scanning the same walls and boxes over and over again, failing to see that tiny little switch in the corner. Of course, if you take too many hints the game starts to feel like auto-pilot, and isn’t nearly as rewarding.

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Verdict

Small issues aside, The Room Two is a successful game that makes you feel good when you uncover its secrets. The puzzles are just tough enough to tickle your mind without taxing you to exhaustion, and the cryptic notes scattered around provide a measure of insight into the peculiar world. Though it’s under four hours long, the game is well worth the $4.99 asking price. Puzzle fans will have a great time solving its mysteries.

Rating: 8/10

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