I’ve never understood why The Room is called The Room and not The Box. Yes, the box is in a room, but your eyes are so drawn to this ornate toy that you don’t ponder what is happening around you. And it really is a good game about boxes: the mystery of what’s inside them, the thrill of prising one open and… er, that’s about it. But that’s arguably everything that is good about boxes. (Okay, so stamping them flat for recycling is also good fun, but that would make for quite a brief puzzle game.) The important thing, is that Fireproof do both of these things very well.
Perhaps prising is the wrong word. Nothing is done by force in The Room. The box is an intricate collection of switches, cogs and hinges, discovered by rotating a gorgeous 3D model, zooming in and poking it. On iOS, where this originally appeared, it was a touchscreen triumph, one of the few games to so perfectly nail the tactile sensations of buttons and dials that I didn’t mind gumming up the screen with greasy fingerprints. (And because the first three games all released just before Christmas, fingers were guaranteed to be extra sticky with festive treats.)
Shifting to PC loses the immediate connection, but everything else here is exemplary porting work. As celebrated in John’s The Room review, great effort went into updating all assets for high resolution monitors. In a game about texture and mechanical craftsmanship, this eye for detail really matters. It’s only a short experience – a couple of hours – but replaying this over the Christmas holidays (this time gumming up my mouse with the remnants of Quality Streets) I was impressed at how little I’d remembered, and how satisfying all these click-clacking transformations were afresh.
You can currently get The Room for £3.99 on Steam, and all three PC ports for just over a tenner. The gap between new Rooms seems to be growing in line with the team’s ambition – the last one (yet to be ported to PC) gave us an entire house of rooms with multiple boxes. Come 2030 I expect an entire city of toys to poke and prod.