Nov 18, 2012
Price: $1.99 (Normally $3.99)
Publisher: Fireproof Games
The 1993 game Myst was a major step forward for the adventure game genre. Before Myst, first-person adventure games were largely static affairs; you’d be presented with a scene and would need to either type a command or click an object to progress. Myst introduced puzzles that the gamer could interact with directly and solve through physical manipulation rather than by combining inventory items. It was a major hit and spawned a multitude of clones.
The Future of Adventure Games
Unfortunately, the adventure genre has advanced little since Myst. By the end of the ’90s, adventure gamers had grown tired of Myst clones and the third-person style of adventure gaming popularized by Sierra and LucasArts suffered from a similar lack of originality. Although there were several moderately successful attempts to resurrect the adventure genre in the 2000s — Capcom’s Phoenix Wright being one example — none were able to bring modern technology into the equation and create something completely different from what had come before.
None, that is, until the Fireproof Games debut release, The Room. Although The Room may be achingly short and will certainly leave you wishing there were a few more puzzles to solve, the few hours you spend with it will be some of the most entertaining you’ve ever had on the iPad. The Room represents the next great leap forward in adventure game design, and if Fireproof Games takes this idea and really runs with it, the result will set a new high water mark for the entire mobile game industry.
The Room iPad Gameplay
As The Room begins, the short tutorial makes it clear that this is a game that uses 3-D graphics and touch controls as no other game has before. You find yourself in a room with nothing but a table and a few objects. The Room quickly introduces all of the controls you’ll need for exploration and puzzle solving; touch and drag to move the room or interact with objects, double-tap to focus on an object and pinch to zoom out. Then, you’re off and running. Apparently, you’re on the trail of a scientist who made an incredible discovery and then disappeared, leaving clues hidden inside elaborate puzzle tables and boxes.
The Room consists of four chapters in all. Although you’ll certainly be left wishing for more after you finish the game, the four chapters are quite substantial and will take around 4-5 hours to complete. If you get stuck, a built-in hint system is available to gently nudge you in the right direction. The puzzles are difficult enough that you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you advance, but not so difficult that you’ll ever truly get stuck. The solutions never feel overly obscure or contrived. To say more would spoil the experience, but suffice it to say that adventure games have never before used 3-D cameras and direct input to such great effect.
What’s Next for Fireproof Games?
The Room definitely isn’t a game that overstays its welcome. At the game’s current price of $1.99 — apparently reduced by half for Halloween — you’ll finish the game feeling you got your money’s worth but wishing there could have been more. The game’s ending makes it clear that you have only scratched the surface of The Room and that many more rooms will follow.
For future chapters of The Room, though, Fireproof Games will have a bit of a challenge. People who enjoyed the first game will be looking for a sequel with a lot more content, but future puzzles will have to be sufficiently different that people won’t be able to simply breeze through them once they have a feel for the game. The Room is an incredible game on its own, and it’s one that we feel virtually every iPad owner would love. However, it could also mark the beginning of a new and exciting style of game design in which the player feels more than ever like an active participant in the experience. If Fireproof Games manages to follow The Room up with a full-length sequel that keeps the challenge level high without compromising on variety, the result could easily be the best iPad game released to date.