I first played The Room a few years back on my mobile phone. At that time, it had recently been ported to Android after huge success on iOS. Since then, it’s seen a swathe of awards arrive, been ported to PCs via Steam, and now it’s arrived on Nintendo’s Switch. It’s been six years since the original release of the game though, so how does it stack up?
If you’re not already familiar with the game, it’s a puzzle-box style game, that sees you opening ever more intricate and obtuse creations in order to discover the secret of “the null”. This is done through solving various logic puzzles involving keys, secret codes and a bit of lateral thinking. You get notes from a long-lost uncle throughout the game, usually hidden inside parts of the puzzle boxes, which serves to progress the story (because nowadays all puzzle games have a story for some reason).
The story might not be engrossing, but the game is dripping with atmosphere. The haunting score and sound effects really give a sense of the occult throughout. It’s presented in a style not entirely dissimilar to steam punk, and the environments are not unlike something you might expect to find in a survival horror title.
Of course, the gameplay is what makes this game what it is. The carefully crafted puzzles reveal just a little bit at a time, with so many hidden nooks and crannies opening up each time you solve one particular conundrum. They’re all superbly varied too, with mazes, word puzzles, hidden keys, even a section with a radio needing tuning to the right frequency to unlock another hidden area.
The problem arises here though when you realise that all of these praises apply to all the versions of the game. What does the Switch version bring to the table? Sadly, surprisingly little. The developer is keen to point out that this is the best version of the game, but honestly, playing it on my mobile and Switch alongside each other I hardly noticed any difference at all. The textures are slightly higher resolution, and some of them look better, but not all of them. In fact, there were some cases where the better realism came from the mobile version of the game.
The Switch has become a dumping ground for people trying to make a quick buck reselling popular mobile titles, and this is one of the less impressive ones that I’ve seen. The kicker for me is the fact that this costs £6.99 on the Switch, whilst the near identical Steam and mobile versions are £3.99 and 99p respectively outside of sales. And this game is half a decade old, so it’s often on sale.
The only real addition that you get playing this on the Switch versus the mobile is some clunky motion controls. These add nothing to the game and if I’m honest, it’s far easier playing on touchscreen mode. The controls were designed for touch and they haven’t been changed before churning this out. The motion controls only work when the console is docked too, you can’t turn them on if you’re playing in tabletop mode.
It pains me to speak ill of a game that I really enjoy like this, but the fact that this is a poor value port of a six year old mobile game. There’s no reason to buy this over the far cheaper mobile versions. In fact, you could buy the first three games on the Play/app store for the same price as getting this on the eshop. You should definitely get The Room, but not on the Switch.
The Room (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
A great game, but with no value added it isn’t worth buying over the mobile version. Too expensive for a game that’s best played on a mobile screen anyway.