The Room One was a fantastic experience from Fireproof Studios, a newly formed company that comes from Guildford and where most staff members have had previous experience working on Little Big Planet’s content. It was a fantastically intrinsic puzzle game which seemingly come out of nowhere and managed to sell by the bucket load for its intuitive controls and mind bending puzzles. The sequel has a lot to live up to, with Fireproof games now having reputation rather than being a upcoming indie team, can they succeed in bringing a second hit?
You start the room two like you did the original: being shown a box in the middle of a room which you must solve. What’s different this time, is your ability to go between two boxes within the same room, meaning that some puzzles are no longer related to the one item you see before you, and some exploration may be in order to find out your surroundings and where items will go to solve puzzles. Whilst the scale and scope of The Room 2 has changed to make everything more epic, the puzzles are still fairly tight, meaning you’ll be scratching your head at times as to where the solution may lay.
This new change in scope allows the team at fireproof a more liberal way in making fantastic set pieces. You’re teleported to different scenes multiple times in the game, from an Aztec cave to a Victorian photography studio, its all unique and gives a breath of freshness to an otherwise repetitive game mechanic. New scenes come with a new inherent understanding, which can be difficult for some players if you don’t know the stereotype of the room you are currently in. At one point, I was stuck trying to make a typewriter work as I didn’t know how to press “enter” to finish what I was writing. I suppose that’s some of the charm of The Room 2, it plays on your own knowledge of the world around you, ensuring you feel clever for something you’ve done in game which you know and have seen in real life.
Puzzles follow the same constant rule as was the case with The Room, with puzzles unlocking a new piece of equipment that can then be used in a new location to unlock a new and even harder puzzle. There were more instances of myself getting lost though in this sequel, mainly because of the expanded scope of moving between multiple objects in a room to ensure you’ve done everything you possibly can at that given moment. One of the worse rooms for this was a Aztec level, which allowed you to play with 5 different items in the room. Usually, it’d just be a straightforward case of solving a puzzle on one item, then moving onto the next, but in here, there were so many different items that I ended up going in circles trying to locate the first thing I should solve. It can certainly be confusing, which works against The Room Two considering how straightforward and linear the first game was.
There is a story to The Room 2, albeit one that’s only used as a topping, and isn’t why you’re playing the game. It’s similar to how RPG mechanics have found their way into almost every genre, the story is used purely to fill the game out. It’s delivered through notes you find as you traverse the world, so apart from the mini narrative taking place between yourself and someone who has travelled this route before you, you’re making the story up yourself as you go along. This isn’t a bad thing, many stories can be better when you use your own imagination rather than just being told whats happening, but it does leave a lot of questions as to what direction the series is going. I suppose only time will tell.
The puzzles are coherent, but can take a while to get used to. For example, you may have ordinary drawers on a desk, but after a bit more exploration you find a button on the underside which enables a puzzle on the top. These type of puzzles are frequent, meaning you should always give something a once over before jumping to conclusions that there’s nothing to do or the game is glitched.
I have mixed feelings about The Room 2. On the one hand, Fireproof Studios have managed to increase the scale of the original, whilst keeping the puzzles addictive and coherent. The whole game is much more beautiful because of this variety, but I can’t help but feel something has been lost in this transition. The original had so much charm because of the confinement of playing within one box, one box that twisted the rules of reality mind you, but one box all the same. You uncovered little by little the secrets this box hid, and throughout the few hours you played it you felt you were learning more and more about the world through what you imagined. The Room Two on the other hand rips that feeling apart by plainly showing you the world you inhabit, with no mystery and intrigue left to guide you on. I will say, If you’ve played the original, you owe it to yourself to play The Room 2, but don’t be surprised if you don’t come away from the game with the same sense of awe that you came away from the original with.