Three years after its initial release, The Room Three finally makes its way to PC, this time with more than double the content of its predecessors. Despite the great puzzle design all around, the game is not without its issues, mainly when it comes to the puzzles’ scale and difficulty.
Great puzzle design. Keeping up with the trend established by the last two games, The Room Three manages to continue providing fun and well-designed puzzles, even shaking it up a bit with new mechanics and such. Of these new mechanics, the most notable of which would have to be the new lens for the game’s eyepiece. On top of revealing previously invisible puzzles and information, this new lens allows the player to enter smaller-scale puzzles, or “puzzles within a puzzle”. For example, using the lens on a locked door could allow the player to adjust the lock in a such a way for it to unlock itself upon zooming out. It is a pretty neat mechanic, even if it comes with some issues (more on that later). Outside of the new mechanics, the puzzles maintain a similar level of quality compared to the last two games, just on a much larger scale this time around. As such, this makes the game a good option for both returning and new players alike.
More content. The Room Three is the longest release in the series so far, at least of those available on PC. I was able to clear the first two games in about an hour and a half each, but with The Room Three, it took me double that time — just over three hours. On top of that, I spent an additional hour clearing every ending. This makes the game well over double the length of its predecessors, something the series really needed. At four hours long, the game does not overstay its welcome, nor does it feel too short, it is pretty much the perfect length for a game of this scale.
Multiple endings. On top of having more content in general, The Room Three changes it up a bit by having more than just one ending. This time, there are four different endings, all of which require additional puzzle solving in order to unlock. In fact, the game does not even provide hints as to how to unlock the other three endings, one of which I had to look up because I had absolutely no clue what to do. The puzzle solving here is much harder than the puzzles found during regular play and made for quite the fun experience, so much so that I wish the game’s other chapters matched this difficulty. Although the story element may not be all that great, the addition of these extra endings is definitely a welcome one, especially when it adds as much gameplay as it does. I hope that future releases in the series keep up this trend.
Large puzzle scale. Bigger does not necessarily mean better, something perfectly captured in this iteration of The Room. Instead of solving a puzzle limited to just one box (like the first game) or one room (like the second), the third has the player solving puzzles that span multiple rooms. While this does sound great on paper, it felt like the actual puzzle design took a hit in the process. Instead of having super-intricate puzzles limited to just one area, the different parts of the puzzle are spread about, oftentimes requiring the player to move back and forth to solve them. Not only was the constant traveling a bit annoying, but I felt that the puzzles were less creative as a result. With more room to work with, the developers are able to spread the different aspects of the puzzle about, instead of having to get creative and somehow work all of the steps into one small space, which is the reason why I liked the first game so much. It also does not help that many of these additional rooms are only used a couple of times in solving each puzzle, making many of them just feel like wasted space. The game simply focused too much on its scale when it really did not need to.
Easier puzzles. Outside of the game’s different endings, the puzzles this time around felt a lot easier to complete. This is partially due to the scale I mentioned in the previous point. Due to how spread out the puzzles are, individual rooms oftentimes only have a few things in them that can be interacted with. As such, they usually leave quite the impression, so later on, when the player has the materials to actually interact with these objects, he/she will automatically know where to go. For example, I went into one room that had a sawmill and some sort of woodworking station, but did not have the materials to interact with them yet. However, later in the puzzle I came across a piece of wood, and having already found that room beforehand, I knew exactly where to take this piece of wood and what it would be used for. It was like the game was holding my hand at times, guiding me along a linear path.
On top of that, while the idea behind the whole “puzzle within a puzzle” mechanic is neat, it certainly does not help when the majority of these puzzles are stupid-simple, some of which I would have a hard time even classifying as puzzles. For example, there is one such instance where a metallic owl figure needs to be opened in order to get an item hidden within. In order to do so, I have to press an obvious button, twist its head, slide over the switch that appears right in front of me, then have the game’s camera guide me to the back of the owl in order to move its wing. So on top of the game holding my hand here, the “puzzle” itself is pretty dry. Fortunately, this does not affect every micro-puzzle in the game, but it does so enough that the point needs to be made.
While the puzzles may not be the best in the series, The Room Three is a pretty decent sequel. The puzzle design is good and the additional content is definitely a plus, but the larger puzzle scale combined with the overall ease in difficulty was rather disappointing to see. Even so, I recommend the game, but be sure to check out the other two if you have not already, as those still hold up well.
You can buy The Room Three on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.