The Room 4: Old Sins
Developer: Fireproof Games
Publisher: Fireproof Games
Website: The Room 4: Old Sins • (fireproofgames.com)
Genre: Puzzle, Adventure, Mystery
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 11/02/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
I’ve never been one to play puzzle games or be any good at them for that matter. But with the release of the latest instalment of the critically acclaimed game series, The Room, I decided to try my hand at some puzzle-solving action.
A Mystery To Be Solved
The Room 4: Old Sins is, of course, the fourth instalment in The Room franchise, and revolves around the curious case of a missing engineer and his wife. You are not just there to investigate their whereabouts however, as you believe their disappearance is tied to an ancient and precious artefact. Your search leads you to the attic of the missing couples home, where you find a strange dollhouse that’s not all that it seems. Using the dollhouse, you’ll slowly unravel the mystery of their disappearance, and face challenging tests of intuition along the way.
As a newcomer to the franchise, I was amazed at how much world-building and story are involved in what is a relatively short game. It first grabbed my attention with its ominous soundtrack, which not only sets the tone with its mystical jingles but also perfectly ties in directly with the games overall aesthetic. Like its soundtrack, the rest of the game is abundant in mysticism and mystery, as the strange case at the heart of the game’s story is made even more mysterious by pieces of text littered throughout the game.
When reading your notes in the game’s opening, you’ll discover that the missing engineer was fired for some unexplained reason and that he had a tendency to experiment with things that he maybe shouldn’t have.
The game’s opening doesn’t stop feeding your curiosity there though. As you try to light up the attic, a rotting corpse is revealed by a flash of lightning, slumped beside a wooden table, and the all too significant dollhouse.
I genuinely can’t think of a more enticing intro to a game, as it delivers just enough exposition to pique your interest and draw you into its alluring mystery.
Read It and Weep
Throughout the game, you’ll also come across journal entries made by both of the missing persons that give hints towards what happened to them. I’ll be honest when I say I ignored a lot of them early on, although even if you miss a couple, reading one, later on, will add the pages you missed to the rest of the entries.
Where, like me, you might be distracted from delving into the game’s story by its gameplay, I highly recommend giving the entries a read. These journal entries aren’t even boring to read either. They’re short and sweet, the text is appropriately sized, and I found them to be interesting, and a big part of what kept me playing.
While not everyone is a fan of story details being forced into optional reads, the devs have crafted the game in a way that you’ll be sucked into reading every page you find. By the end of the story, you’ll either be glad you didn’t miss a page or regret that you did.
Beyond what’s on paper is also a touch of Lovecraftian horror, as your journey through the dollhouse is shadowed by a dark force. Surreal as it is that you are venturing through the rooms of a dollhouse, you’ll quickly find that there are even more sinister things lurking in its tiny halls.
With the aid of your mechanical eyepiece, you can see things invisible to the naked eye, including strange runes and ritualistic patterns. There’s a hint of the occult going on, which is a neat little part of the game I didn’t expect.
As a fan of Lovecraftian horror, I was also pleasantly surprised – and a little spooked – when a room was suddenly overrun by slimy black tendrils. Upon completion of a puzzle room, a cutscene will play out where these eldritch tentacles slowly slither towards you as you cautiously back away. Not only was it creepy, but as someone new to the franchise it only added to my fascination with the game’s story, and helped compel me to see it through to its conclusion.
There’s not much to The Room 4’s gameplay, after all, it’s a point and click, requiring only a mouse. The opening minutes serve as a tutorial, demonstrating how you look around, interact with the environment, pick up items, and subsequently make use of those items.
On a deeper level, you will often need to make use of your eyeglass to solve puzzles in each room, as it will highlight areas of interest and show things invisible to you without it. Should you struggle or get a bit lost when trying to solve puzzles, you’ll even be able to receive the occasional hint from the game.
It’s pretty straightforward which is nice. The simplicity of it makes it a great game for those looking for a casual playthrough of something mentally stimulating and all-around enjoyable.
If my time with The Room 4 proved anything it’s that I would make a horrible detective. This infallible truth stems from the fact the game’s puzzles are incredibly well designed. The goal of the game is to find the hidden artefact in every room you visit, which makes every room one big puzzle. This means that while some parts of the room are straightforward in what you need to do, the solutions for them could be hidden in the tiniest of corners, or even in other rooms. While some puzzle mechanics are present across some rooms, every room’s puzzles still feel distinct to that room. In my playthrough, every puzzle always felt like a fresh new challenge, and one I couldn’t wait to solve.
My downfall, however, turned out to be the clues hidden in plain sight. I’m not afraid to admit I spent way too much time in the study room desperately trying to find anything that would help me progress. As time went on, and all seemed lost, I swallowed my pride and utilised the help button that had been taunting me throughout my ordeal. To my embarrassment, it showed me that the next part of the puzzle had been staring me right in the face the entire time.
Practice Makes Perfect
However, the more I played the more skilled I became (if I do say so myself). Before long I was flying through levels and spitting in the face of that know-it-all help button. Finding clues became second nature, as I could feel myself become more intuitive with every click and glance of the screen. I became a natural master of deduction, my skills honed, and intuition rivalled only by that of Sherlock Holmes himself.
So do not fear being overwhelmed by the games challenging puzzles, for if even I can surpass the abilities of the worlds greatest detective, then so can you.
Solving puzzles never felt so good, due in no small part to how fun and well crafted every puzzle is. The devs over at Fireproof Games have proven their mastery over puzzle crafting and design, if not in how detailed and challenging each level is, then in how fun and rewarding solving each puzzle feels. It’s an experience like no other.
A Visual Delight
I’m equally impressed with the game’s level of graphical quality, as well as its intricately designed puzzles.
For a point and click puzzle solver, The Room 4 has graphics comparable to that of some of the biggest titles. The first time I found my appreciation for the game’s visuals was with the dollhouse. I find it amazing how realistic the team had made it look and feel. Every brick and tiny piece appear meticulously crafted, and the way the light hits it only furthers the appeal of it’s finer details.
The rooms of the dollhouse prove to be even richer in quality and depth than their exterior. The further I progressed, the more each room became more dense and cluttered with all sorts of furniture and curiosities. But while they looked busy they never felt like it. Almost everything in a room has a purpose, and while that was often because they were part of a puzzle, other times it was purely for aesthetic. That doesn’t mean the aesthetic parts were any less important. I loved that every room I went to felt new and distinct from the last and that everything in a room belonged there.
The Room’s Rooms
A couple of examples would be the maritime room, which featured a model submarine, a barnacle-covered safe, and pictures of boats and the sea. The curiosity room is another notable mention of mine, with its peculiar tribal masks, case of precious stones, and its freaky model of human anatomy that I could swear was looking at me. To tell the truth, me and the model human got along in the end, and I was sad to see them consumed by the encroaching darkness.
However, my favourite room was without a doubt the Japanese room. It’s one you’ll encounter in the late game, but one sure to take your breath away. Like the rest of the rooms, everything in this room fits perfectly with its theme. But unlike its counterparts, The Japanese room felt so much more unique. Where the rest of the rooms match the games 1899 setting, the Japanese room feels like something else entirely, capturing the culture and design of the country it’s based on. Everything from its hand-painted cabinets, themed puzzle pieces, spot-on colour scheme, and the inclusion of model pagodas and oriental dragons make it feel that much more unique.
It’s remarkable how much effort the team at Fireproof games put into making a simple point and click title so visually stunning, and that alone is enough to warrant a playthrough.
The Room 4: Old Sins has well and truly opened my eyes to the beauty of the puzzle-solving genre. I adored every second of this point and click adventure, even in the most frustrating of times. With some of the most compelling gameplay you’ll find and visuals that will leave you stunned, The Room 4: Old Sins is more than deserving of a spot in your games library, and one I’ll fondly look back for years to come.
Rapid Reviews Rating
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