Thinking out of the Box with Crimson Room: Decade

Crimson Room: Decade
Gameplay
graphics
audio
value
fun
Genre
Reviewed On
PC
Available For
Difficulty
Intermediate
Publisher(s)
Developer(s)

Crimson Room: Decade is an enhanced release of a popular downloadable game from 2004, simply titled Crimson Room. The original title was moderately popular, and a variety of similar games in the newly-spawned room escape genre began popping up on flash sites all over the Internet for some time, even with several making it to Android or iOS, such as The Room.

In this version of Crimson Room, you’ll take on the role of French inspector Jean-Jacques Gordot, as he attempts to solve the variety of puzzles in a tiny, enclosed space. You will have to search, manipulate items and objects, as well as combine items with others in order to solve the variety of mysteries that are in the room. Some of the puzzles are straightforward, others will seem obsessively obfuscated until you have a, “Eureka” moment, but for the most part, Crimson Room: Decade has more sensible puzzles than the original Crimson Room.

So I take it we did not book the five star accommodations? Wait till they see our Yelp comments.
So I take it we did not book the five star accommodations? Wait till they see our Yelp comments.

The setting, at the beginning at least, leaves you in a room with a chest of drawers, a bed, a calendar, a window and curtain, as well as a locked door, among other things. Getting stuck is pretty commonly solved by holding an item and clicking absolutely everywhere in the room, which is how many players probably found the flashlight, for example.

For the most part, the difficulty is just about right, especially when compared to the original game which had a movie of a dancing man point you to a safe hidden behind a false panel in the walls, and while that puzzle does come back in heavily altered form, it is a lot more reasonable (if not difficult for another reason mentioned below, specifically regarding the graphical fidelity of the game). Many of the puzzles will have things linking them together, so observant players will be able to solve them after just a few moments of examination- such as how there is a carving of a set of scales in a drawer, and a set of scales drawn on a specific day on the calendar. The player is able to continue when he or she discovers exactly how these two are linked, usually gaining an item that will allow you to solve another puzzle in the room.

It's a (sort of) secret door. Wonder what else is hiding in this room?
It’s a (sort of) secret door. Wonder what else is hiding in this room?

Littered throughout Crimson Room: Decade are a variety of diary pages that provide the history of the protagonist’s grandfather, who was the occupant of the room a large time prior. Discovering all of the pages will reveal the true purpose behind the room (though, a personal gripe, is that it is still nebulous as to why the protagonist finds the room, “Familiar” unless that’s just a callback to the flash game from 2004). As the game goes on, the story more or less becomes an exercise in how far it can push your suspension of disbelief, especially in regards to the ending, but really that’s just par for the course for these types of puzzle games. If you’re a fan of these types of games, you’ll be understanding of how strange it gets at the end and maybe even put together why everything seems as it does, while those less inclined to suspend their disbelief will probably just be left confused.

Is all this red getting to anyone else?
Is all this red getting to anyone else?

The game isn’t exactly the greatest looking title out there: There are very few graphics options and a lot of the textures are low-quality and overly simplistic, even on the highest settings, though that works a bit in the game’s favor as you should be able to largely tell what every object is. One particular puzzle seemed a bit more difficult than it should have been because it was difficult to discern exactly what a lightning flash splotch was pointing to, as the splotch’s shape and visual clarity were somewhat low-quality (trying to spoil at little as possible, but I stumbled across how to do this puzzle almost immediately, on accident, but spent another 10 minutes just trying to figure out what was being pointed to, because I was having a hard time actually seeing it, which shouldn’t be a problem).

The music is quite good, and can set the somewhat creepy theme quite nicely. The sound effects, however, can be terribly repetitive, though several of the seemingly-atmospheric ones are necessary for the player to notice and utilize in some manner to complete certain portions of the game, making them a necessary evil, if nothing else. There are even a few French tunes you’ll hear throughout the game, which is a pleasant surprise, as well.

Does the pocket knife also HAVE to be red?
Does the pocket knife also HAVE to be red?

Overall, Crimson Room: Decade is a cute little puzzler that can keep you busy for a greatly varying length of time, depending upon player. Some people may be able to complete the game in two hours or less (my personal time was about an hour and a half), and others taking upwards of five hours to finish the game. Those who enjoy being stumped for a moment, or are delighted by the success of finally solving a puzzle on which you were stuck, may gain a lot of enjoyment from Crimson Room: Decade in the short time you will spend with it. Those who are only partial to puzzle games, or perhaps prefer games that last longer than just a few hours may prefer to spend their $10 elsewhere or wait for a sale. All things considered, Crimson Room: Decade can be an amusing little title, though you definitely have to be appreciative of the genre in order to maximize your enjoyment.

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