From the moment you enter The Room you’re hypnotized by the allure, the magick, the mystery… in a darkened room where faint amber light slips through a tiny window and a small lamp illuminates the only real object of interest. To rend the veil that would reveal the wisdom you seek, there is only one way to proceed, you must go within.
“The Room” (iOS, Android and Kindle) is a breakthrough hit for the Guildford UK based developer Fireproof Games. It has received a ton of press, praise from fans, and recently decorated with Bafta and Game Developer’s Choice Awards along with Apple naming The Room iPad Game of the Year 2012. Not so shabby for a studio’s first release.
The story is a wild ride of esoteric stratagem with sur-real life correspondences. It’s the kind of dynamic and illusive experience you’d expect from a blockbuster in another medium such as The Game of Thrones or your favorite Dan Brown novel for example, but with a further twist of the rope for the Player. Once caught in the current of that intimate and unique world, another reality opens and it’s well worth the ten bones it takes to download into your hands, eyes, and ears.
The tactile connection of the game is driven gracefully by the HD graphics and ohh what sights they are to see! The photo-real textures, lighting, atmosphere and overall quality of the art and visuals is bewitchingly beautiful. The input was instinctual and allowed for a feel which is almost rhythmically paced to the scene by the emotional connection to your experience. The marble smooth control makes navigation and engagement with the world feel completely natural. The enjoyment of effortlessly gliding the camera around the scene gives your logical/mechanical left-brain a perfect distraction for your expansive/creative right-brain to take in the sights and breathe in the mood, to finally come to understand the point of your new fascination…
Not forgetting for a moment the aural mindscape of the music and sound design (which is often under utilized in many mediums). The Room achieves much through the subtle but emotive tonalities and contextual sound design. (Sound and frequency can have transformational effects which I’ve touched on here at disinfo before) I’d highly recommend headphones to be fully soaked in the the oceanic depths of the deeply buried history and hermetic science presented in The Room that can be best appreciated whispered in the ear.
After I played The Room (for the first time), I had hoped my path would cross with someone from Fireproof so that I could tell them how impressive The Room is. So as it goes, you find yourself at 3am on a balcony atop some hotel in San Francisco during the Game Developer’s Conference while talking about the game to a friend, who then says “there’s the co-founder of the company over there.”
Not missing a beat, I asked to be introduced and had the chance to catch up with Fireproof’s Commercial Director (and all around cool dude) Barry Meade. It was late and I may have had a beer (maybe two) by that point but shortly after the introduction I mention that I am an enthusiast of the hermetic arts and an esoteric biblioholic (or something along those lines) to which he responds “oh, are you a Satanist?” …wide-eyed with a bit of confusion, I thought “what the hell did I just say!” (maybe it was more like three beers or so by then…) Totally funny as how often are you asked that kind of question. More importantly though, I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond… timing.
We hung out for a couple hours and I had a amazing time learning about his inspirations, his teams goals, how the game developed, and of course how the story was inspired. The story… those great themes and fantasies. It’s the axe aimed at the roots of our own histories and stories, and of course the mystery that will always challenge us. What is real? What is fantasy? What are the limits of the mind, of the Universe?
Again, to go very far at all in describing the puzzling experience gives away too much of the story but the thing that caught my attraction, and something I think Disinfonauts will particularly enjoy, are the arcane explorations, the cracking open of the hermetically sealed allegories (that often conceal multilevel insights and meanings) that only the lenses The Room provides may reveal. This experience has more than one way to be seen.
The Room creates a new bar for look and feel expectations – skillfully establishing a symbiotic balance of stimulus input to intrigue response which keeps the iPad squarely rooted in your hands and logging into Facebook and Twitter to share your journey with your friends. After you finish the Room you’ll be dying to explore other rooms – good thing since The Room 2 is due out this year! in Autumn, but of course…