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The Room is an intensely challenging puzzle game with beautiful 3D graphics where the object is to unravel a mystery by opening steampunk-style boxes.
Though "opening boxes" may sound boring, with The Room, each box has several hidden secrets and clues that keep you engrossed, trying to find the right sequence of actions to open the box. There are dials to turn, complex safe combinations to figure out, hidden compartments that contain keys, and much more. You also have an inventory on the left where you store the various keys and other items you find as you search for a way to use them to open the box and discover what's inside. As you progress, you'll also find pages of a diary that fill in the storyline and provide clues to your mission. On the day I wrote this review, I became so engrossed with the second box, I was in danger of not finishing the review. The Room simply sucks you in.
Part of what makes it so compelling are the amazing-looking visuals and the steam punk design of the boxes and various gadgets. The ornate, old-style puzzle boxes have gleaming metal dials, realistic looking natural wood grain, and the lighting effects and shadows really make you feel like you're working with real objects. Though you can get The Room on your iPhone, I highly recommend playing on an iPad just so you can appreciate the work that went into the look and overall feel of the game.
The Room isn't just about the visuals, though. The sound design is excellent with each whirring gear and creak of old wood as you pull open a drawer. You can hear creepy music and howling wind as you work. The overall feel of both the audio and visuals are part of what makes this game great, but it's the complex and challenging puzzles that keep you coming back for more.
The biggest annoyance for The Room is that it simply isn't long enough. Though I spent a significant amount of time trying to open the boxes that are available, once I got to the end I couldn't believe it was over. You only get three boxes to open, each with several steps that are very enjoyable, but it's really not enough to call this a complete game. Fortunately, according to The Room wiki, a new chapter for the original game is coming in the third quarter of this year. Also, the popularity of the game has driven Fireproof Games to start work on a sequel to come out in Q4 of 2013.
The other thing that can get a little annoying with the room are the controls for viewing the boxes and zooming in on details. Though the swipe-to-rotate controls are smooth as silk, the pinch gestures for zooming in and out can get a little frustrating. I'm not sure what the developers can do here to make it better, but just be warned that in some instances, it may not feel as smooth as you'd like.
The Room seemed like a port of some browser-based, point-and-click adventure to me when I first came across it at the App Store. But now that I've tried it, I can tell you it is much more, and that just about anyone will enjoy piecing together the mystery as you try to figure out how to open each box.