Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle
Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle
A fun puzzle game with a good story and optional VR
Posted: 05/10/17 | Category: Review | Developer: Handmade Game | Publisher: Handmade Game | Platform: Windows, Mac

Genre: Sliding Puzzle/Platformer
Release date: May 1, 2015

Let me start by saying that Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle is not another game in The Room series, even though they use the same font and layouts in their splash screens. The Room is a puzzle game which has nothing to do with The Room – it is all about The Box which is in The Room. Open the elaborate Puzzle Box and you will get The Key which will let you out of The Room. Rooms is different.

I hope that clarifies things.

The grownups still talk about the old toymaker and his marvelous creations – how his toys and mysterious mansion seemed to have a life of their own. They say that one day he and his house just disappeared, leaving the empty lot next door which you can see right out your bedroom window. 

One night you are awakened by bright lights coming in through your window. Looking outside you see…the mansion has returned! It’s right over there next to your backyard! What do you do? Wake up your parents? Don’t be ridiculous. You grab your favorite bunny slippers and an old lantern and sneak on over to investigate. Maybe the old toymaker is still inside…  

Rooms is an interesting variation on the classic sliding-block puzzle. You know, the one everyone hates where you have different sized blocks which you must slide around to allow the golden block to escape. In this case, you are looking at something like a dollhouse. All the rooms are the same size, so that is not the puzzle.

Your avatar (the one with the bunny slippers) is in one room. The exit is in another. You can only walk to another room if it is next to you. And there is no wall in the way. And the door is unlocked. To get around these obstacles you can move the room you are in, use any ladders or teleports you find and collect keys.

Some rooms, when solved, will yield the next chapter of the story of the toymaker. Other rooms are hiding a piece of the final puzzle. And some just have cursed puppets.

As a puzzle game, this has a lot of depth. It is fairly long and has a good story which unfolds along the way. But what really intrigued me was its support of VR. Not that I am looking for just any excuse to use my toy, mind you, but how would the developers use VR in what is essentially a flat game?

It was actually quite effective. Instead of just looking through the window of your monitor, you are there. You feel like you are really sitting in front of a doll house with all of its little furniture and animated dolls. There is no reason for you to move, so there is no chance of motion sickness. And nothing ever comes after you, so you remain perfectly safe.

From the game standpoint, it is professionally made and quite enjoyable. The VR did enhance the experience, but is not required. But there were a few glitches…

Running an Oculus app in Steam VR is always awkward – if you don’t bring everything up in the right order you will end up in the Oculus Lounge and have to start over. But Rooms adds a further wrinkle by popping a window up on the monitor asking you to select between 2D or 3D...after you've put the headset on and cannot see the monitor. It took a bit to figure out what was happening, but I got around it.

Then I noticed that instead of using the headphones in the headset, the sound was still coming from the system speakers. I contacted tech support about this and their response was that this was a bug in Windows and that I would have to disable my system speakers to force the sound over (and presumably re-enable them after the game). Strange how this is the only game I have found which suffers from this “Windows bug."

Then there was the problem of how to quit out of the game. You are sitting in a garden in front of the dollhouse. The little flowers each represent an achievement or control sound, etc. But none of them exited the game. I tried using the different menu buttons on the controller and they mostly worked, but seemed to react differently each time I played. I was ready to really lay into the developers for this one when I decided to give it one last chance – I stood up from my seat and turned the whole way around…and there, directly behind me, perfectly positioned so that you'd never see it without leaving your seat, was the exit. Really?

And finally, the VR and non-VR versions are played as two separate games – the progress on one is not reflected in the other.

From the VR standpoint, this was a rather amateurish effort to just slap the capability on without properly integrating it.

Bottom line – Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle is an enjoyable, professionally-made game. Definitely “B” territory. But the VR implementation is awkward and amateurish. Definitely “C” territory. But the VR is optional, making these problems avoidable.

Grade: B-
 
Original variation of a classic puzzle
+ Good storyline
144 puzzles to solve
Optional VR
 
Progress made in VR are not seen in non-VR and vice versa
- VR not implemented well
 Logo 
 
Trailer 
 
 

 

System Requirements
 
MINIMUM Windows:
OS: Windows XP or later
Processor: 1.83 GHz or higher
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Storage: 250 MB available space 
 
MINIMUM Mac:
OS: OS X 10.6 or later
Processor: 1.83  GHz or higher
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Storage: 275 MB available space 
 
VR Support:
Headsets
HTC Vive
Oculus Rift
OSVR 
 
VR Comfort: 
Very comfortable

VR Risk:
Safe 
Specials from Digital Download
Cognition - Season Pass
$14.99
Knee Deep
$19.99
Stasis
$24.99
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