In 2012 Fireproof Games launched the first in an award-winning series of puzzle titles for mobile devices called The Room. Offering a fantastical storyline involving magic and a Victorian-era setting, the franchise has gained a legion of fans thanks to the elaborate brainteasers the studio has thought up. Now that gameplay has been transferred into virtual reality (VR), specifically catering to VR mechanics for what is set to be the most immersive entry in the series, The Room VR: A Dark Matter.
VR is littered with imaginative puzzle titles which range from overwhelmingly difficult to charming and delightful. From bouncing puzzler Glyph’s precision and timing to the recently released Down the Rabbit Hole, there’s no shortage in this genre so to stand out the entire package needs to be special.
Thanks to its pedigree The Room VR: A Dark Matter already benefits but it doesn’t rest on its laurels. It takes what’s best about the franchise and expands into VR with comfortable hands-on gameplay and puzzles that are inventive yet not too overly complicated that you should be stuck for any serious length of time.
The storyline is an important factor in The Room VR: A Dark Matter as it intertwines the puzzles together, making progression feel relevant whilst building a desire to find out what is actually going on. Set in 1908, you play a detective assigned to a missing person case; an esteemed Egyptologist at the British Institute of Archaeology in London has vanished into thin air. As it turns out nothing is what it seems, making for an intriguing plotline.
So you start off in a detective’s office with a pleasant view of early 20th century London and this is the smallest area you’re presented with. There are four main locations in The Room VR: A Dark Matter which doesn’t sound like a lot but each one is bigger than the last and more sophisticated, so you do get a good 5+ hours of gameplay. This will also depend on how well acquainted you are with the previous titles, past experience does help with familiar puzzles popping up.
One aspect that will probably divide players is exploration and movement. The Room VR: A Dark Matter goes for node-based teleportation so you don’t have any freedom to wander around the areas. This does make the gameplay feel somewhat restrained considering how much the VR industry has progressed but it does offer several benefits. The first is primarily comfort, so most players shouldn’t have any issue diving straight in.
The other has to do with difficulty and puzzle layout. If you’re given full freedom to wander around frustration can set when you’ve missed something, especially if it’s plainly obvious. With a set number of locations you can move to there’s no worry about blindly overlooking a crucial clue, all you have to do is pay attention to the local vicinity. That doesn’t mean to say The Room VR: A Dark Matter makes things easy, there are some difficult brainteasers to solve which require travelling between several areas.
A core part of any The Room videogame was the special piece of glass that would allow you to see the unseen. This is where a big part of the magical element comes into play, uncovering hidden symbols and writing on the walls. Its location within the inventory is reminiscent of the other titles but comes off as rather clunky in VR, having to switch back and forth, especially as it turns off when you teleport. Adding the switch to one of the unused controller buttons or physical interaction with the side of your head could’ve been a little more immersive.
If you’re a fan of the franchise then you won’t be disappointed with The Room VR: A Dark Matter as Fireproof Games continues to improve upon the gameplay. For those that have never played The Room before, then its standalone storyline won’t make you feel like you’ve missed out. Varied environments filled with detail, rich lore and polished puzzles prove that The Room VR: A Dark Matter is an essential VR puzzler for all fans of the genre.