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The Room Two review: Even better than the award-winning original

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The Room Two is the hotly anticipated sequel to one of the most celebrated puzzle games on iOS, and after playing through a few levels, I can tell you it raises the bar that was already set high with the original game. This made-for-touch-screen puzzle adventure includes incredible graphics, a mysterious storyline, eerie atmospheric sound effects, and complex puzzles that will have you pulling out your hair trying to figuring out your next move.

FindObjectsOtherPuzzles.png
9.4

The Room Two

The Good

<b>The Room Two</b> is a puzzle game with amazing graphics and sound design, along with a creepy storyline that sucks you in from the start. There are more puzzles than the original.

The Bad

The complexity of the viewing and zoom controls can be frustrating.

The Bottom Line

Polished graphics and sound design along with excellent puzzle-solving gameplay make this sequel well worth the price tag.

The original The Room won Apple's Game of the Year for 2012, along with several other awards, and the sequel gives you more of the same great gameplay and spooky ambiance as you try to unravel the mystery.

It's important to note that the graphics are even more impressive in this sequel, but unfortunately that means the requirements are also steeper. The developers say you need at least an iPhone 4S to play this game, but I found that it still worked extremely well even on my iPad 2, and flawlessly on my iPhone 5.

Beautifully realistic graphics as you uncover the mystery of The Room Two (pictures)

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Examine everything
Just like the original game, The Room Two starts in a darkened room with an ornate box that immediately sparks your curiosity. Your job is to search the room for clues such as written notes or hidden objects that may help you open the box to see what's inside. But it's not just what else is in the room; the box itself holds countless switches, moving panels, and other contraptions that you'll have to examine and solve in order to move on to the next room, and learn more about the mysterious story.

Made for the touch screen, The Room Two is all about trial and error as as you interact with every panel, lock, button, and contraption set before you. A double tap lets you zoom in on an area to figure out how it works, and a pinch gesture lets you zoom back out to search for more clues. There is often more than one object in a room to interact with, but they are always interconnected. This means you might find the key to a lock for one box by opening a panel on a rolltop desk elsewhere in the room. Knowing that the solution could be anywhere is what keeps you checking and rechecking everything you see.

It's important to note that if you're looking for a simple action game, you'll need to look elsewhere. This game takes patience as you check and recheck objects for clues, so be ready to spend some time playing The Room Two.

The Room Two
You found a strangely shaped metal object, but what is it for? Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Slowly uncover the story
With The Room Two, it's not just about the puzzles. As you open boxes and solve other puzzles, you'll run across journal entries and letters left by someone who seems to have been trying to solve the mystery prior to your arrival.

The notes and letters you find uncover more of the storyline, but also sometimes include specific clues to be used in the room you're presently in. In other words, just as with the objects in the game, it pays to closely examine the letters and notes for more clues that might help you solve the puzzle.

Utterly engrossing
I experienced this in the original game, and it holds true for the sequel as well: this game sucks you in like few others.

As you examine beautifully designed boxes for levers and hidden panels while listening to the howling wind outside, along with occasional mysterious whispering voices, it's easy to get lost in this game. The graphics are so smooth that the objects in the game seem almost real, and the sound design only adds to the effect. When you add to that the cleverly written letters that give you bits and pieces of the storyline at a slow trickle, what results is a world that almost completely envelops you as you play. Simply put, not many games pay this close attention to nearly every detail.

The Room Two
When you open a box, you never know what you might find. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

My only problem with The Room Two is the same problem I had with the first one: the camera zooming in some areas can be a little frustrating. It's clear that certain objects are meant only to be viewed in specific ways, so when you try to rotate around some objects to have a look, it's simply not possible. In a game like this where every detail is important, you're going to try everything to see every nook and cranny of the room. But unfortunately, you'll quickly run into invisible walls that block your curious nature. It's not something that really takes away from the rest of game, but just note that it can get mildly frustrating.

Conclusions
I loved the original The Room, but found it a bit too short. The Room Two improves on almost every aspect of the original, with better graphics, more puzzles to solve, and more of the same thrilling storytelling.

Though I was a little annoyed by the camera zoom effects, my complaints are really nothing when compared with everything that is great about this sequel.

If you were a fan of the original game or like the idea of losing yourself in a incredibly well-designed puzzle-solving mystery, The Room Two is one of the best available and could be a model for what a quality iOS game should be.

FindObjectsOtherPuzzles.png
9.4

The Room Two

Score Breakdown

Setup 9Features 10Interface 9Performance 9