The Room Three is an engaging and interesting puzzler, greatly expanded from the previous installments, The Room and The Room Two. Even more environments and far better execution on its story beats make this game a significant step up from the previous installments, but not every puzzle is so elegantly designed as before. Especially with the alternate endings.
The game is entrancing, atmospheric, and easy to get lost in. The puzzles are delightfully atmospheric and the gameplay feels good, if a little clunky at times. The game is a bargain at is price.
The Room Three is a captivating game. And this time around, it succeeds on selling its atmosphere on almost every level. This time, the entire point of the space you’re in and the situation you’re facing is getting caught up in these charming little puzzles. The environments are very detailed and believable. Every object tells its own little story, and even when it’s serving a mechanical purpose, that purpose is part of the story.
There’s this satisfying rhythm to figuring things out. And the gimmick of the game—being able to look at things on a micro level—integrates wonderfully with the feel of everything presented. What better way to get lost in the details than to literally get lost in the details?
The only critique I have of the atmosphere is that sometimes atmosphere is prioritized above the logic of its puzzles and its mechanics. The dramatic camera swoops from one place to another are very engaging and cinematic… until you’ve seen them ten times already and you really just want to get upstairs to see if there’s something you can poke at. The extra environmental details can also muddy the waters for what is and isn’t part of a puzzle, ESPECIALLY when it comes to figuring out how to get a different ending.
In summary, the atmosphere of The Room Three is the best it’s been in the entire series. It does a fantastic job of selling you on the places you go and the situation you’re in, and it makes a wonderfully engaging experience.
The Room Three is very mechanically smooth in many aspects and makes a wonderful experience in the main part of the game, but over time, you will become familiar with its annoyances. On the plus side, all inventory items can now be rotated in every direction, the game is far more forgiving about what level of focus you need to be at in order to use items, and the hint system is just as unobtrusive as ever. On the minus side, the game wastes your time, and the endings especially will have you spending hours on busywork.
Playing with objects and examining your environments is just as fun as it ever was. Flipping switches (when the camera isn’t fighting you) is smooth and fun, and I had less trouble with the intended motions than I had with the previous installments, which is very good. The camera itself is also a sort of baked-in hint system. You can only zoom in on things that have some interesting detail about them, so you likely won’t waste time on dead ends and red herrings. Unless you’re going for one of the endings, in which case you will waste a lot of time on dead ends and red herrings.
The difficulty is in the oversights. The expanded environments of the main hub make for an immersive and interesting framing device for all of the individual levels. But navigating the dang thing is very tedious, due to all the dramatic swoops and false leads—sure, that thing is important, but you can’t mess with it right now. Well, when am I supposed to mess with it? Apparently, right at the end. So instead of making tiny bits of progress along the story, you instead have to go back and revisit every place you’ve been, looking all around to see if anything has changed.
I’m mostly irritated with how close to true excellence this gets. The mechanics brought over from the first two installments are here in full force, more polished than ever. It’s just that the new additions to the world have brought those comfortable old tools just a bit outside of their comfort zone. It’s by no means bad. I’m just frustrated that what we got was merely good, when I can so easily see how it could have been amazing.
In summary, the mechanics of The Room Three are largely a refinement of the previous games and work very well for the individual puzzles, but start to wear down when applied to the larger game world.
Puzzle Logic: 8/10
The Room Three is a wonderful contraption. On every level, it’s a puzzle where the pieces are just waiting to be clicked together. Finding the logical thread to take you from place to place is a very pleasant experience, and you can end up getting lost in the act of snapping things into place… For most of the game.
The joy of The Room Three is that everything has a logical connection with the things around it. Every question has an answer, and that answer usually isn’t far off. Once again, you’re expected to examine objects for hidden details, flip switches cleverly disguised as decorations, and notice odd breaks in the pattern. This time I had no trouble at all in finding everything to fiddle with, and it kept me wonderfully captivated by the mystery of what would happen next. Shapes and patterns are easily discernible, and even if some problems can be a little silly, all of it fits together to make a very pleasant puzzler.
The difficulty, as I keep alluding to, is in the endings. For all that each level is a very pleasant ride from premise to conclusion, the unlockable endings are…Well, by the standards set by the rest of the game, they’re bad. One “puzzle” just requires you to wait in front of a clock.
Another puzzle requires you to know that an object that doesn’t seem to react to you poking it will eventually do something if you keep poking it. Add in the fact that you’re bouncing around from level to level, you’ll inevitably forget some detail about a previous room or not notice that you could have picked up that one very important object. And no hints for you to keep you on the thread.
The game makes a point of saying it’s not going to hold your hand, and then gives you the least satisfying and most obtuse challenges yet. Could we at least have made better use of the spyglass? Some threads are hinted at by highlights only visible through the lens of the spyglass, but never for something that really stumped me. I had to bust open a walkthrough to get anything but the default ending, and that wasn’t satisfying at all.
In summary, the puzzle logic of The Room Three is something that works exceptionally well for the main game and is still the most important draw. Each level is well-designed, but the puzzles for the different endings fell critically short.
The Room Three has a gripping and interesting story, against all of my previous expectations!
Instead of the obtuse nonsense that was the previous installments, the game starts out by giving you some answers right away, explaining the significance of the symbol present throughout the previous game and the importance of what you experienced. Then it raises the stakes by introducing a new character—The Craftsman—who has kidnapped you because he needs your help in puzzling out the deepest mysteries of Null and what’s actually happening to everyone entangled in this mess.
Instead of the fire-and-forget nature of The Room 2 or the deliberate silence of the original The Room, this game is dripping with exploration of character. The entire setup is that all the puzzles you’re solving were specifically created by The Craftsman. Figuring out how his mind works and how he sees the world is a part of the story AND part of the puzzles you complete. It astonished me by making me think on what was happening to the people involved from a character perspective. Who is The Craftsman? What does he really want? What should I do about it? Can I do anything about it?
There are only two critiques I have about the presentation. One, a major part of the mystery felt spoiled when The Craftsman left out a note that basically explained exactly what his real plan for you was… and it was just lying on a table in one of the rooms, not even hidden!
The other critique is that the act of getting to an ending is, well, aggravating and tedious. It releases some of the narrative tension by bringing me out of the story. “Really? I have to go up and down the stairs AGAIN? Can’t I just finish this here?” It didn’t ruin the experience or anything, and some of what they managed to convey was genuinely gripping without being hilariously overblown. But I wish they’d given the final story one more pass to polish it to a mirror shine.
In summary, the story of The Room Three is actually important and thematic to what you are doing the entire game and serves as the connection between everything that happens. I was very pleasantly surprised.