“Rooms: The Main Building” is a difficult game to review. This is because the game is just sliding block puzzles. That’s it. Hundreds of sliding block puzzles. Yet, the execution here is near flawless. This is the only game I’m aware of that makes sliding block puzzles its focus and it does it so well that it’s difficult for me to hold a grudge. Truth is; it’s just not for me. It might be for you.
I’ve had a secret vendetta against sliding block puzzles for years. My brain just can’t figure them out. I’m aware that I have to realign the blocks to form an image, but my mind simply can’t think far enough ahead to determine where to slide blocks so that, fifty movements later, I have a picture. My hatred was increased when video games known for their puzzle elements began including them. I was infuriated when “Resident Evil 4” threw a random sliding block puzzle into the game for seemingly no reason. I’m so bad at these things that my entire play through was brought to a standstill as I struggled with the puzzle for close to an hour. I was doubly offended when “Silent Hill: Homecoming” featured two
sliding block puzzles. It goes to show you the talent behind the developers of “Rooms” because they somehow made me able to tolerate the concept enough for a play through.
In “Rooms” you play as Mr. X, or whatever you want to call your guy. I called him Mr. Belvedere. So anyway, Mr. X gets a birthday present which traps him in some mysterious alternate reality where he has to physically navigate sliding block puzzles to escape. Yes, it’s exactly like David Fincher’s movie, The Game. So what makes this game work where a standard puzzle at the toy store fails is that navigating Mr. X through the puzzle means you don’t have to align all the pieces to form a picture. Rather, you simply get Mr. X to one of the sliding blocks that have a door on it. You slide blocks to allow Mr. X to avoid walls, find ladders, use phones to teleport, or otherwise utilize a number of special tiles to help you navigate the puzzle. Because you’re only focused on where you end up and not where all the blocks have to be to complete a picture the game is a lot easier to stomach. It’s a decent twist on a very old style of puzzle. Needless to say, if you’re some sort of weirdo and love sliding block puzzles then it would behoove you to buy this game immediately.
The atmosphere is pretty cool too. It has an air of mystery about it that I found remarkably charming even if it is hardly the game’s focus. But that’s a good thing. There’s some story here but it doesn’t prattle on longer than it needs to. Nothing annoys me more than a puzzle game that tries to feed you cutscenes. The game’s tutorial was somewhat obnoxious for this actually, but after it finished trying to teach me things with style I was left alone for a considerable amount of time.
When not solving puzzles in the story mode there are some areas to explore point and click adventure style. If you find items in the puzzles (for instance, a rubber mallet) you can use them to solve some adventure game style puzzles in these areas. For example, I used the aforementioned rubber mallet to smack a sleeping treasure chest so it’d wake up. Of course, it then wanted some food before it’d open up for me . . . something I didn’t understand . . . but you get the picture. These are simple distractions and complement the title’s atmosphere nicely but if you’re into adventure games there isn’t enough here to really satisfy you. It’s just a nifty little side thing. Truth be told, it makes me think the developers originally wanted to make an adventure game but realized a puzzle game would be more feasible for any budgetary constraints they may have had.
Additional modes include Challenge and Build. Challenge is locked until you push through story mode. These are just puzzles with some sort of limit placed on them. There might be a time limit or a restriction placed on how much you can move one of the sliding blocks. Build let’s you, quite obviously, build puzzles to play. You can share them with a friend, but the lack of online exchanges for puzzles is a disappointment. The game also features “trophies” that act like Xbox Live Achievements. I’m aware that will appeal to someone.
In the end, “Rooms: The Main Building” is a competent and well made game with a subject that I do not care about. Hudson Entertainment has made a quality game here with very few problems other than the fact that it is a game all about sliding block puzzles. I don’t care how often the game’s talking book, Mr. Book, keeps calling them “rooms.” Here’s a hundred sliding block puzzles for you on the Wii or DS (both games are identical in terms of gameplay) and I just don’t care. I recall telling a friend of mine about the game to which he could only respond, “That really makes me angry for some reason.” And that about sums up my feelings as well. I reiterate that it is an absolute credit to the development team that, after playing the game, I cannot hate it. But I cannot love it either.
[!/mrface3.jpg "Mr. Face say this game OKAY. Mr. Face never wrong!")
*Mr. Face say this game OKAY.
Mr. Face never wrong!*