The Room Two is an atmospheric and intricate puzzle that is an expansion and extension of the puzzles of the previous installment. With expanded environments and a larger focus on its still-incomprehensible plot, this game takes far greater risks with its effects, environmental design, and dreamlike logic.
The game is enjoyable, gripping, and short. The puzzles are interesting, if sometimes rather obtuse, but overall the game is once again worth the price.
The Room Two is a marvelously engaging game to play. The environments are rendered with care and attention to detail, the soundscape is designed to keep you focused on the often-unsettling mysteries at hand, and the effects lend more credence to the idea that you’re stuck in places and times that are not where humans are meant to go. The machines and devices are unsettling and seem to react to you in bizarre ways, and many of the puzzles require you to act out things that are symbolically significant.
But with greater effort comes greater risks. Not all of the animations land, and the feeling that you might be doing something dangerous and strange is undercut by how everything is turned into a puzzle—there are no mundane things in the game at all, and so there is no sense of normality that can be used to contextualize all the weird events. It’s all weird, all the time, and that can get rather samey.
Every object is designed as a puzzle first and a logical place second, which can be interesting from a story perspective. However, it also makes it difficult to have any emotional attachment to things when it’s clear that the worlds you find yourself in exist either to be part of a logical chain or to dump more strange and confusing lore on you. But even so, this is more of a personal preference.
In summary, the atmosphere of The Room Two is still fantastic and engaging, drawing me in for another round of puzzles. It differentiates itself from its predecessor nicely, but is not without some flaws.
The Room Two is a refinement of the mechanics introduced in The Room, with a larger scope of possible actions and a far more ambitious set of possible interactive items. This is largely handled very well, but there are still a few moments where things did not quite flow the way I wanted them to.
On the whole, observing and interacting with objects is still very fun to do. But the issues with focusing on objects returns from the original game, made more extensive by the large number of interactive objects. I have several times tried to place an item where it belongs, only to not be able to since I needed to focus on the small sub-area where the item was to be placed.
Even so, interacting with the individual objects was far easier and there were more opportunities to switch focus in a way that felt smooth and intuitive. The hint system was similarly unobtrusive. It may be the fact that I have gotten used to the way The Room Two presents itself, but the mechanics of this game feel like they have improved on many of the smaller flaws in the original game.
It is still impossible to rotate some objects in order to see them from below. This time, I was at least expecting it, but this fact actually interfered with me being able to complete one of the later puzzles.
In summary, the mechanics of The Room Two are an evolution and improvement of the original mechanics of The Room, and the game is overall easy to interact with barring a few minor issues with focusing the camera on objects.
Puzzle Logic: 8/10
The Room Two is all about puzzles. As a consequence, there are some pretty good puzzles, but I wonder if the designers got a little carried away. Everything is a puzzle. Everything. The world is one giant music box with gears and cogs and springs, and it’s up to you to flip the latches, turn the keys, and make the notes play.
There are no simple answers in The Room Two. Everything you do is some level of cryptic. Thankfully, there is a decent level of signposting: things that appear different under your lens will have a very noticeable iridescent sheen. Mechanisms that require something of you will be interesting and have memorable shapes, and it’s a joy to examine things and see what little hidden secrets they have…most of the time.
The problem is that this is constant. There’s no variation. Any object you can examine WILL have a secret to it. And if you’ve found one, there’s probably more. At times, it tips from “interesting challenge” into “time-wasting tedium.”
There are a few things that should have been cut, and a few ‘puzzles’ that consisted of finding small imperfections on a pattern composed entirely of imperfections. And even when you know exactly what to do, it can still take time to do it, because the game delights in overemphasizing each step of the path toward your goal.
Yes, it’s satisfying to figure out where something goes. No, I don’t need you to keep showing me how the plot meter keeps slowly filling. And if this one switch here causes a big swooping effect all the way over there, and you needed to wrestle the camera away from me in order to show me this new thing…maybe you should have had the switch do something else.
Thankfully, these are all nit-picks. Ultimately, the puzzles are still very pleasing to complete, and there were only a few points where I got stuck enough to need a hint. Some of the actions you need to take can be very obtuse, but ultimately, the entire game has a very consistent mechanical crunch — get to a new environment, examine every nook and cranny, find every hidden thing, and find where everything goes. It is satisfying to do, and carried me through the game without frustrating me too much.
In summary, the puzzle logic of The Room Two is still very solid and a large draw of the game. Figuring out the chain of cause and effect was enjoyable, with a few slow parts and a few hiccups.
The Room Two almost has a story.
Your random and reclusive acquaintance is guiding you through a series of times and places where he has previously been, and in the process, he has left you notes and clues as to what’s going on. However, now you are in a variety of foreign environments which operate under a sort of dream logic, and there are also notes from the former residents of these empty spaces. If you thought this would give you more clues as to what is actually going on, you are sorely mistaken.
One of the major changes between the previous game and the current game is the arc symbol — this time instead of a hexagon cut in half, it’s a hexagon with two weird notches in it. How is this significant? Who knows? What about the Null element? Still vague and uncertain. Are these weird tendril things tentacles or cracks or Null? It’s anyone’s guess. How long have you and your acquaintance been going through these strange puzzles? Perhaps forever! Is your acquaintance even alive? He might be, he might not.
If you enter the game with questions, you will leave with puzzles. And I don’t mean that the story is a puzzle. I mean that the story is, “weird stuff is happening, now solve this puzzle.”
The puzzles are trying to give an impression of excitement and danger at times. It’s adorable. You do symbolic acts of sacrifice, commune with a haunted typewriter, mess with dangerous lab equipment. There is no actual tension. There is never a time limit. Everything you do is preordained both by the game’s mechanics and story. There was one moment where an electrical machine failed in its operation, blasting apart the fuse.
This might seem exciting and dangerous, if it weren’t for the fact that the puzzle relies on you solving a completely unrelated puzzle with absolutely no connection to the device or the fuse in order to find the carefully-hidden replacement fuse. Why was it hidden? Because that makes you need to solve a puzzle. Why did the old fuse explode? Because otherwise you wouldn’t need to solve a puzzle.
The final scene of the game takes the cake. It’s a tense chase where you have no control, and you barely escape with your life from a monster that I guess had been foreshadowed. You’re then treated to a quiet and contemplative moment, which I used to ask myself: Why was I running? What was that? Why did it want to kill me? Why didn’t it try before? Why am I apparently safe now? Why did any of this happen? WHAT!?
In summary, the story of The Room Two exists to make you solve puzzles.