Since wowing mobile gamers with its 2012 debut, The Room has flourished into one of the platform’s best series of all time. In a market chock full of five-minute wonders and real-time strategy sims, Fireproof’s darkly cunning puzzle games have become somewhat of an institution. A reliable name and one that denotes an unrivaled sense of quality.
When it launched more than four years ago, The Room had players thinking outside of the box, as well as inside and around – quite literally. Presented with nothing more than an antiquated chest in a dark and dusty chamber, we began to observe this rare curio, prodding away at its many knobs and levers. Through successful experimentation, these boxes would begin to unspool and reveal hidden compartments like some kind of Transformer/Russian doll hybrid.
Not only did The Room look marvelous, with its intricately designed settings and props, it also provided a rewarding sense of tangibility. Whether turning a screw or opening a drawer and watching the handle fall, the game packed in an obsessive amount of detail.
Naturally, The Room Two expanded on the game’s original concept, Fireproof becoming even more daring and audacious in its puzzle designs. Now, in 2015, the British developer has done the unimaginable and gone one step further than before.
In The Room Three, you’re no longer bound to the confines of stone cellars and ship cabins. In your pursuit to uncover the secrets of the elusive Craftsman and his research into the Null, you find yourself aboard a train, thumbing through your logs before being sucked into the saga’s most ambitious chapter to date.
From there, you arrive at Grey Holm, a vast mansion complex situated on a small island presumably somewhere in the British Isles. Throughout this dark and atmospheric abode are clues as to its past as well as that of the Craftsman, who you catch a brief glimpse of in the game’s opening moments.
Grey Holm, like many of the unique boxes and contraptions you’ll find within, is multi-layered and packed with hidden surprises. At its core stands a ominous monument carved with ancient glyphs and markings as well as five circular grooves. In order to get to the bottom of this puzzle, you’ll need to explore each wing of the mansion in sequence, retrieving artefacts that react to this altar.
It’s a glorified fetch quest, sure, yet lends some much needed structure to The Room Three. If Fireproof went all-out and allowed the player to explore Grey Holm freely, it would lose that rewarding sense of momentum as the pieces of each puzzle suddenly fall into place.
Each wing of the mansion plays host to a network of rooms and corridors fitted with all sorts of retro gadgets and oddities. Between them there’s a fantastic variety, emblematic of each environment’s practical functions. The workshop, for instance, is fitted with an assortment of benches, tool racks, pulleys, and even a forge. The observatory, on the other hand, adopts a more spacious area of Grey Holm, spotted with planetary diagrams and huge telescopes.
These settings are a true beauty to behold, outdone only by the objects that inhabit them. Even tiny trinkets like keys enjoy a level of detail that surpasses that of character models in some games we see today. Aside from brilliant lighting and texture work, The Room does an equally impressive job when it comes to animation, breathing life into otherwise inanimate boxes through some form of technical witchcraft.
The mysterious, often spooky, atmosphere is also bolstered by some solid audio design. Although not essential to the experience, it certainly adds an engrossing dynamic whenever sat playing in quiet areas.
Bar the occasional bit of back-tracking, there’s very little negative to say about The Room Three. Although the touch controls can occasionally misinterpret gestures, this is a small price to pay for having a such an intuitive, unobstructive set-up in the first place. Even the hint system – something that puzzle games often fail to get wrong – is on point this time around, churning out tips periodically to guide you.
Lasting anywhere between five and seven hours, The Room Three is well worth the £3.99 asking price. Even as the fifth chapter draws to a climactic end, the game beckons you to its clutches once more with alternate endings to unlock.
The Room Three isn’t just the best puzzle game currently available on mobile devices, it’s arguably one of the genre’s best entries of all time, period. Fireproof Games has really gone above and beyond this time around, creating a genuine masterpiece, completely dispelling the argument that mobile gaming is consigned to playing second fiddle to its PC and console counterparts. In other words it’s a must-have and we can’t wait to see what the team comes up with next.
Version Tested: iPad Mini 2