The Room Two is (TR2) finally out on Android, and of course this entry would have been more timely if I’d written about it way back then.
TR2 is more of the same, but with a few caveats.
It’s the same in the way you use the touch interface to interact with the world in a similar fashion to how you’d perform tasks in ‘meatspace’. It’s the same in that it has atmospheric graphics and sound. It’s the same in that all the puzzles have the answers within the same room, you just have to find them. It’s the same in the puzzles can generally be worked out (by me, anyway) without resorting to built in hints, or web searches.
Both are also created in a strange reality that allows devices and puzzles that wouldn’t make logical sense in our world. Bits of a table, that wouldn’t fit in the same small space in reality, can unfold in a beautiful animation and it doesn’t detract from the belief in the world. In fact it helps build the atmosphere.
So, what’s different?
TR2 is now set in a series of rooms. The ‘aim’ of each room is to open the door to the next. Within each room are possibly multiple locations (tables, cupboards, chests and so on) that you can examine, poke, and prod to find and solve puzzles to take you further.
It seems to me that with TR Fireproof Games deliberately aimed the style at a region just inside the uncanny valley. They achieved that, meaning everything was at once familiar and yet alien. Towards the end of TR the atmosphere became more ‘horror like’ but it never turned to full horror. TR2 slides further into the uncanny valley, allowing it to feel more alien and at times more horrific. It put me quite on edge, and while often the horror would briefly ramp up, it was a mere glimpse and the world settled back to its vaguely uncomfortable, yet fascinating status quo.
In parallel with the atmosphere and puzzles is the story. The story was only hinted at in TR, but gave rise to a growing curiosity that melded with the growing horror that left me wondering what the hell was going to happen next. In TR2 we get to find out what happens next. We get some hint of what this world is, and how it works.
While I’m not going to reveal more than that, I will say that by the end I was both satisfied with the ‘explanations’ and wanting more. The developers have given enough hints that I still don’t know the full story, while giving me enough that I’m not left completely hanging with a “what the hell was that all about?” feeling.
One thing I keep wondering (besides the questions I have about the world the game inhabits)- is “was TR2 better than TR?” It’s a difficult question.
I think, because it was limited to one room, TR felt better focused. For the most part, every puzzle had a solution somewhere on the table/device you were currently focused on.
In TR2, not only do you have multiple rooms, but also many focus points within those rooms. On the one hand, this allows more and varied puzzles, but on the other it can lead to wondering just where the next step is. Really, that point just makes TR and TR2 different not better or worse.
TR had a chance to start from an atmosphere of normality and slowly bring up the other-worldliness and horror. TR2 started there and really could only raise both of those a little. On the other hand TR2 managed to keep the atmosphere ‘on the boil’ pretty consistently, which worked well for the story.
TR2 had much more story and more varied locations – each with a subtly different feel to them. That led to me wanting to see not only the next puzzle, but the next room. It also allowed the developers to change the style of puzzles a little to suit each room, which gave more variety.
In the end, I have to say it’s a pretty even draw. For every ‘pro’ on one side, there is a different pro on the other side. They’re both fun, atmospheric games, that despite having a common base, go off in different directions.
Personally, I’m just waiting for The Room Three, now.