During the early days of modern consumer VR, I remember standing inside of an escape the room game, fumbling with some object, and thinking of the fun I had playing The Room series on my phone. I remember thinking, “I wish they’d just make a The Room VR game.” In fact, every puzzle I’ve done in VR made me think of The Room, and how satisfying the touch controls were. Suffice it to say, I had high expectations for The Room VR: A Dark Matter, and it met them.
If you’re not familiar, The Room series is all about puzzles. Often, it features complex, brilliant puzzles that range from manipulating objects, to finding other objects or clues in the environment to proceed. Each of The Room games has a wide array of different contraptions, obstacles, or mind benders to sink into. Each room or section also usually has an overarching goal, with each of the puzzles in the room having some connection to each other.
The puzzles you’ll encounter in The Room VR will be of varying difficulties. Of course, as far as puzzles go, your mileage may vary. Some people can just walk into a room and get it, while I may take hours at it, and I may breeze through other sections I’m sure someone struggled with. The Room VR had a good mixture of complicated and simple puzzles. There were only a few times I was stumped, but when I was, I was stopped dead in my tracks. That isn’t for lack of clues, and usually boiled down to something I overlooked: easy to do in VR.
Movement is done by teleportation, and only to specific designated locations. These locations will put you right up to the puzzles, though even in that case, diligence is necessary for progress. And while in VR, you can’t jump out easily to take notes. Fortunately, none of the puzzles in The Room VR require note taking. The puzzles, for the most part, were made obvious—without being too obvious—and you were easily able to tell which parts were able to be manipulated.
One of the reocurring mechanics in The Room series is the use of a lens to see hidden objects, and clues can be hidden outside of normal vision. Sometimes, flat surfaces are transformed into 3D objects to manipulate, or hidden compartments are revealed. Another reoccurring mechanic in The Room VR is that at certain points, you can become smaller. I absolutely loved most implementations of this, especially when I had to go into locks to unlock them, or manipulate objects while I was larger to traverse them while I was smaller.
There is a story, as there usually is in The Room games, but it really just serves as a vehicle for the various tasks you’ll be doing. You play as a detective, whisked away from his office to a series of tests and obstacles to overcome as you follow the breadcrumbs and mysterious handwritten notes. Other story bits were conveyed in video sequences that made me feel like I was at a high tech amusement park—and that’s a good thing.
Developer Fireproof Games did a great job translating The Room to virtual reality. The environments are amazing, and some of the best I’ve seen in VR. They create a sense of wonder and provide great atmosphere. Though always impressive, The Room VR doesn’t really come out of the gates swinging, saving some of its most impressive visual treats for the end. Manipulating objects feels great, and I had only a few detection issues through my entire playthrough.
There are some games that I wish I could erase from my memory so I could experience them again for the first time, and The Room VR: A Dark Matter is definitely one of them. It has great puzzles that are often just fun to manipulate. The Room plus virtual reality is a no-brainer, and Fireproof pulled it off nearly flawlessly.
The Room VR: A Dark Matter is available today on Steam, Oculus, and PlayStation
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