As much as it'd be nice for Fireproof's The Room to be a video game version of Tommy Wiseau's classic film, it's actually a puzzle game that was first released on iOS all the way back in 2012, throwing you into a room with a series of puzzle boxes to unlock. Like a lot of games though, it is enjoying a new lease on life by coming to the Nintendo Switch, meaning a whole new audience can discover the brain-bending conundrums that it has to offer.
Before talking about the Switch version specifically, let's break down what it is for those of you who haven't played it before. The Room is essentially a game that places several puzzles boxes in front of you, and while that might sound rather limited in scope, each of them is packed with enough gadgets and gizmos and secrets to keep you entertained and scratching your head for hours.
At the start of every puzzle box, things look complicated and insurmountable, but as with the greatest puzzles, taking it a step at a time is the key to success. Each box has a set route you need to take to open it and proceed onto the next one, and it's just a case of finding the next step each time you get stuck. Once you flick one switch, for example, another bit is revealed that might contain a key for another section, and things progress logically from there.
It's easy to get stuck with so much to think about, and that's why it's useful to see the game have hints flash up. These can be disabled at any time, but with one click of the top right of the screen (a question mark symbol), you get a hint, which gets more and more obvious if you remain stuck. These gently guide you to the general area you need to examine, which is perfect for those who get bored easily or don't want to stay stuck for ages, although those who love a challenge can sweep them aside entirely.
In terms of the actual puzzles you engage in around the boxes, they range from the very obscure (like noticing one leg on the box is different to the others) to the blindingly obvious... if you know what to look for. None of this is easy, we should add, but it really does give that sense of achievement when you finally unlock one mystery out of the dozens. Several also require you to think outside the box - pardon the pun - and examine the things you thought could never be relevant to you.
There is a loose story threaded through the whole experience, in which you uncover notes about someone's research into 'null', but really this isn't going to be the focus for many players. It's vague, and pretty much only serves to add to the atmosphere of intrigue and mystery, rather than give you a solid plot to see through to its conclusion.
With regards to the Switch version specifically, this looks the part and looks more in line with the shiny PC version than the mobile one, which is appreciated. All of the surfaces glisten and the lighting is perfect, with parts of the boxes illuminating the dim rooms you find yourself in. The visuals aren't going to be the most important thing in a game like this, but it helps to have some eye candy while you're testing your brain.
There are two control schemes you can go for with The Room on Switch, the first of which sees you hold one Joy-Con. You use R to centre the icon on the screen, the motion controls let you move and drag the camera around the box, and there's another button to zoom in and interact with the surfaces. This sounds good in theory, especially since you don't need to be pointing at the screen, but it hurt our wrist after one box and is fiddly when considering the delicacy of some of the systems. We'd advise short bursts if you intend to play it this way.
Then comes the touch screen, which is the preferred method of play, as proven with the mobile versions of the game. Here it's a case of dragging your viewpoint around with your finger, double tapping to zoom in, pinching to zoom out, and obviously interacting with the box using your own hands. It's much more intuitive this way, but obviously limits the visuals to just the handheld screen, so you'll have to consider whether you want the big screen glory or the slightly easier mobile alternative.
The premise of The Room might seem basic in the sense that you're taking on puzzle boxes and nothing else, but trust us when we say these aren't just any puzzle boxes. They offer tricky and engaging contraptions that you'll have to tinker with in interesting ways to unlock, but the feeling of satisfaction is immense. With hints and an easy-to-use touchscreen interface too, those who like a brainteaser should pop into The Room and say hello, although perhaps steer clear of the Joy-Cons.