You know I love the puzzle games. So when our editor John Breeden came by with a new puzzle game, I was interested. When he said that he had played it himself and even made one of our new Let’s Play videos about it, I was definitely intrigued. You see, puzzles are not really in John’s wheelhouse, so any such game that John is willing to put that much effort into should be something worth playing.
Turns out I was right. Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle takes a group of increasingly more challenging puzzles and interweaves them into a charming story with fantastic art and sound. It is a sequel to Rooms: The Main Building, which graced computer screens about seven years ago.
The backstory of Rooms may seem similar to gamers like me who remember playing “The 7th Guest” in the early 90’s. No one? Maybe that’s just me. Anyway, the game opens up with a book’s pages being turned, and we read the tale of a famous toymaker who was beloved for his wonderful creations. One night he mysteriously vanished, taking his fabulous mansion with him. Then one night the castle just as mysteriously appears in your backyard for you to explore and solve. Armed only with your wits and your talking lantern, you venture in to see what awaits you.
You start by selecting which room in which mansion you’d like to solve. Initially, since you can get to a puzzle until you’ve solve the one before it, you pretty much have to pick the first one, unless you want to skip ahead to the basement (more on this later). This is a good thing, as you will slowly be introduced to new concepts as the levels become more challenging.
Each level of Rooms is at its core a slider puzzle. When you are in a room, you can either move to an adjacent room (as long there is a ladder and no wall/floor is in the way) or you can click on a gear to slide the room to an adjacent empty space. The basic idea is to form a path for you to get to the exit room. Every time you slide a room, a counter decreases further from it’s initial value of the minimum number of moves needed to solve the level. If you use these up, don’t worry, the game will automatically reset it to a new number at the cost of one of the three jigsaw puzzle pieces you could earn.
This part is not always as obvious as it was in the earlier levels. Sometimes your way is blocked by a locked door that will stay closed until you get the key elsewhere. As the game goes on more and more devices are presented to give you even more options (and in a puzzle where there is only one perfect solution, having more options doesn’t help you). Telephones can be used to transport yourself to the other room with the same phone. Wardrobes switch the positions of the two rooms while leaving you behind. While these may seem like distractions at times, they are almost always each needed to finish the level. What’s more, these methods of affecting the game board don’t cost moves from your counter, so they are worth trying most of the time.
As you complete more levels, the game treats you to more of the story of the toymaker. This is well-written, and the music that is played while you read is top-notch for creating the mood. Also, certain levels will unlock the group of levels in the next mansion, giving you another option of puzzles to switch to if you get too frustrated. While the difficulty in the new mansion nearly resets, the levels there still integrate any of the concepts from earlier, while slowly introducing new ones. These bombs, puppets, room attractors and such provide additional challenges as well as the devices you theoretically mastered in the earlier mansions.
With each mansion comes access to its basement, which is only recommended for those who have “mastered the concepts of this mansion.” The puzzles here are similar to the ones upstairs, but you are given an additional power to use at your discretion. For example, in the first mansion, you are given a cellphone ability which lets you transport to any phone on the level from anywhere. You can imagine how much this increases the difficulty, as this power needs to be used at certain parts in the process to solve the level, and you only have a certain number of uses.
While there is by necessity a finite number of puzzles (24 per mansion plus 12 in the basement, and 4 mansions makes a total of 144 levels), there are more than enough to keep you occupied for quite a while. It is easily worth the cost to download it. This beautiful puzzle experience quite handily earns 5 Gems out of 5.
By the way, can anyone tell me where this mansion’s bathroom is?