Originally released all the way back in 2012 for the iPad, The Room [$0.99 (HD) / Free] was a delightful surprise. Using touch gestures you interacted with a puzzle box that was absolutely packed with secrets. When we first reviewed it, the main problem with the game was that while it was a great game it just abruptly ended in a way that felt like you had all this build up with no payoff. An epilogue update hit almost a year later which did a great job at not only adding some more content to the mix, but also giving the game a much needed ending. (My theory on all this always was that the developers at Fireproof Games really didn't expect The Room to be as successful as it was, so there never was much thought to making the game a series and how they'd need to link together.) The Room Two [$1.99] was released in early 2014, and as we explain in our review, it improved upon the original in every way imaginable.

Instead of there just being one room, The Room Two had you interacting with multiple different puzzle box-like objects in a bunch of different rooms. Overall, it felt much bigger while still being intensely connected to the roots of the original title. In late 2015, The Room Three [$3.99] hit the App Store, and once again, we were excited to dive into the game with our review. It would be real difficult to argue that The Room Three should have been scored any less than five stars, but I personally wasn't that wild about the new direction of the game. Instead of focusing on puzzle boxes, it seemed like The Room Three leaned a little too heavily on inspirations from games like Myst [$6.99].

I really enjoyed the comparative simplicity of the first two games, in that it felt like the puzzle boxes themselves were front and center. In The Room Three, environmental puzzles as you explored the game world seemed a little too prominent when all I wanted was more classic The Room puzzles. With a clear trend in The Room games getting bigger and more elaborate and the boxes themselves seemingly taking a increasingly smaller role, I was really worried about the direction of the fourth installment in the series, The Room: Old Sins [$4.99]- Particularly with how much additional plot and everything else they were cramming into The Room Three. The Craftsman is cool and all, but I just want more puzzle boxes. (If you need a refresher on the plot, we've got an amazing guide you can read here.)

I'm very happy to report that The Room: Old Sins returns to what I loved in the series, and feels far more like The Room Two than The Room Three. This time around, the game opens with a familiar tutorial that lays out the intuitive touchscreen controls. Basically, you pan the camera around by dragging your finger, and move in and out of objects by double tapping on them to zoom in and doing the familiar iOS pinching gesture to zoom out. Once you've zoomed into an object you can interact with, you can manage all sorts of levers, latches, and other sorts of gizmos by just tapping or dragging them.

How well The Room games control is pretty wild, as the original one really felt like you were interacting with a real puzzle box and as mobile hardware has gotten better over the years the increase in graphical fidelity only makes Old Sins feel more real. A constant tool you'll be using throughout the game, like other titles in the series, is your eye piece which when used reveals additional secrets on an object. Like the games before it, solving the puzzles in The Room: Old Sins involves panning around puzzle boxes, figuring out which levers or sliders to spin in the right way, collecting items (which sometimes are puzzles themselves), and using those items in sometimes obvious and sometimes not so obvious ways to proceed, all while constantly looking through your lens to make sure you're not missing anything. Like previous games, there's a bread crumb trail of plot elements leading you along, but you can either choose to get totally involved in it or really just ignore these snippets entirely and focus on the puzzles. I'm not really going to get into them in this review for the sake of avoiding spoilers, but let's just say mystery is everywhere.

Stepping back a bit, Old Sins takes a pretty clever approach to how the environment of the game works. Primarily, you are interacting with a dollhouse as the main puzzle box which makes it feel a lot like the original The Room with one primary object absolutely dripping with secrets. However, using the eye glass, like previous games, you're able to warp inside of the doll house when you see certain rainbow-y areas. In this case, you look through your eye glass, and zoom right in. By interacting with different rooms inside of the larger doll house, they're able to create a larger environment filled with things to do without feeling overly environment focused like The Room Three. It's sort of weird how well they nailed this, in fact.

Items feel like they play a slightly larger role than previous installments, with you often having an inventory full of seemingly random things which all get used together in different ways to complete some of the more complicated puzzles. The epiphany that comes from the whole "I have no idea what to do with this thing" when you finally figure out when and how to use your items is as intact as ever, and potentially even more so in Old Sins.

Oh, and the fabulous hint system that The Room games used is back. Basically, it's super difficult to ever get truly stuck in this game. After you spend enough time fiddling around trying to figure out what to do next, the game will offer a very vague hint which pushes you slightly in the right direction. If more time passes and you're still stuck, you get another more detailed hint. This keeps going until Old Sins basically straight up tells you what to do next. I really, really like how this works as you never hit a point where you're frustrated and have no idea what to do.

Reviewing the fourth installment of a fabulous game series at this point feels like more of a formality, because of course Old Sins is good. Anyone even remotely interested in iOS gaming by now has played at least one of The Room games, and if you haven't, you should really go back and check them out (along with our associated reviews). Aside from some historical plot points involving The Null (a persistent element of these games, which you learn more about as you play), you're really not missing a whole lot by just jumping into the fourth game of the series first. That being said, I'd consider all The Room games must-plays, so, where you start is up to you. It doesn't surprise me that Old Sins is fantastic, as I doubt it surprises anyone who has been paying attention to the series.

In a nutshell, The Room games are among the best puzzle games the App Store has to offer, and Old Sins falls right in line with the three previous amazing titles.

TouchArcade Rating

  • https://itgetsprettygraphic.com Brian Curran

    Great review. These games always deliver. I just bought it and can’t wait to get started.

  • Tristian o'brien

    looks good so far!

  • Jason

    So happy they realized their errors in the third game, and went back to their roots!

  • Rothgarr

    I didn't mind the wandering around in the Room III at all. Everything must evolve to stay relevant in a world where imitation is rampant. I thought the multiple areas was like a puzzle in itself, wrapped around other puzzles. Regardless, I've enjoyed every game in the series so far and look forward to digging into this new installment.

    • RenderCloud

      I tend to disagree. Both "evolution" and "relevant" are terms that, in relation to video games, hold no real meaning. Evolution is the concept of something changing over time to adapt to changes in it's environment. "Expanding" or "anticipating the whims of the public" isn't evolution, despite many people trying to suggest it is in the gaming industry.

      Evolution is a refining, extrinsic act. Anticipating trends or trying to grow a market is pure speculation.

      I understand that some people liked The Room 3, but pretty much everyone I know found it to be inferior to the previous versions because it went in a tangential direction that none of us really wanted. Puzzle people want puzzles. By turning it's focus more toward story telling and exploration, it made puzzle people sit through a lot of stuff they weren't i interested in and ultimately delivered less of what we CAME for.

      • AKA

        IMO The Room 3 was just as much about the puzzles as any other game and people are overemphasizing the minimal exploration elements that were there. The majority of the game was going to one room, solving all puzzles in that room, and then going to the next room. That isn't the same as a true exploration adventure game where you spend most of your time retracing your steps as you learn / find more.

        The only part of The Room 3 that was really like that was the ending which was like a cherry on top for those of us who loved exploration games. But the base content was just about the same as anything else in the series.

  • AKA

    I can't believe there are people out there who didn't want The Room to be the new Myst. I loved the third game, thought it was heads and shoulders better than the first two. It didn't forget what it was, it evolved what it was. Real sad to hear they didn't continue to evolve.

    It's easy to keep doing what works - that's literally the bare minimum you can do. It's harder, and IMO more rewarding, to push yourself to give gamers a different experience the next time around. I'll play this to see what that experience is but a bit disappointed to hear cheers for going back to the norm from a reviewer.

    • Saveria

      A puzzle box itself containing multiple rooms you zoom into sounds like they found a way to evolve the series in an original direction. Perhaps if they continued down the third game's path we'd have a game too much like myst? But Old Sins sounds original. I hope so anyway since im getting it for sure

    • OrangutanKungfu

      Arguably, heading towards Myst is drifting towards the norm, whereas what the first Room offered was something original. I'm glad Old Sins is veering back towards the puzzle-box concept that is what has made this series truly stand out. That said, all of them have been excellent, anyway.

      • AKA

        If that's the case, name me other games that are like Myst that I can play now. Seriously - I've been looking and haven't found any that were even close before The Room 3. So I'd love recommendations.

      • OrangutanKungfu

        Maybe try The Witness - that's heavily inspired by Myst. I think we're looking at this from different angles: you actually embrace the fact that The Room was becoming more like Myst. My argument was that, by becoming more like Myst, The Room was straying away from what made it feel original.

      • AKA

        I have played The Witness and think it's one of the very best games period that I've played in the last decade. I wish there were a dozen games like that.

        And I don't think The Room was straying from what made it original. It still had the same sort of puzzles it always had. It was expanding what the player could do and how the player should think about the game. Like the realization that the game had multiple endings and secrets that were right under my nose blew my mind when I first got to the ending. Because it was totally unexpected given the first two games.

    • RenderCloud

      The problem with expanding the scope of what a project tries to do is that there are more potential points of failure. I thought the Room 1 was a 10/10 game. As the game tried to lean more into the realm of story or exploration, I enjoyed the game less because I don't think it was as successful at those elements as it was at puzzle crafting. So while I was 100% interested in The Room and enjoyed it 100% of the time, If found myself bored by The Room 3 for long stretches. So much so that it went from being one of my favorite current franchises to being one I had no real hype or interest in.

      Hearing that the game has gone back to what it did well, in my opinion,. means I'll give it a shot where I wouldn't buy another version of The Room 3.

      • AKA

        Just going to have to agree to disagree. I thought by far the best part of The Room series thus far (spoilers ahead for those who haven't played through all games) is when I got to the first ending of The Room 3 and realized there were additional puzzles I had missed that could change the endings.

        The original game was fine but it was fairly straight-forward and not that challenging for someone who has spent a lifetime playing puzzle / adventure games. The Room 3 was first time I felt challenged.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      I think it’s important to remember that this is a standalone spinoff deal. It’s very possible that a proper Room 4 is in the works that does continue to expand in ways The Room 3 did.

      • AKA

        That's possible but Fireproof takes 3-4 years per Room game with their small development team. But like I said I'm still going to play Old Sins (started it yesterday) and form my own opinion on it - I'm sure the polish and quality is there to make it a great game. I just wish the games kept expanding given the wait for them.

    • err404

      I am with AKA on this one. I love each game in the series and felt that they got progressively better with each installment. The puzzles in III were every bit as good as the prior games and the larger areas brought some much needed “logic” to the puzzles. I felt that the first two could be played with my brain on auto pilot as I hunted for a part that moved or used an obvious pairing of two items. I have savored every moment of all three and never used the hint system. The backpedaling of the new one worries me a bit, and I hope it is not being dumbed down. But I trust Fireproof enough not to hesitate buying this one.

      • AKA

        Just finished it and unfortunately it has been dumbed down back to the first two installments. And I definitely played the game with my brain on auto pilot as the game mostly plays linearly and the items are so distinct that it doesn't take long to figure out where they belong.

        You should still buy it as it's worth the price tag. But just is a disappointing installment IMO.

  • RenderCloud

    The fact that they have leaned back toward the older games makes me excited to try this one. I had given up all hope after The Room 3. The Room 1 I furiously beat in one sitting. I still haven't finished The Room 3.

  • AKA

    Update from my post from a few days ago - I just finished the game, took me just under five hours (4:50). Didn't need a single hint and really can't remember getting stuck for more than a few minutes.

    Unfortunately my fears based on this review came true. The game was very straight-forward and simple for someone who has played as many puzzle-based games as me. The art and puzzles themselves are still pretty cool and that polish alone makes this a good game (like every game in the series), but I was hoping for an all-time great adventure puzzle game after The Room 3 and given the time spent developing this.

    Oh well, maybe next game.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      How much scope do you expect out of a game you paid five dollars for though?

      • AKA

        I don't think the game had to much bigger, I would have liked some of the puzzles to be a bit less obvious and a bit harder in the vein of the third game. Which was also $5.

        Also if it were me, I'd tell these guys to make a much bigger game and charge $20 for it. I'd happily pay for it. But I know they are appealing to a bigger audience and can't do that as people generally buck against games that are more than $5 on mobile no matter how much content they have.

        That being said, don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the game, think it's a five star mobile game, and would recommend to any of my friends. I definitely will support the developer as they put out great content. Just am disappointed they didn't push the limit as they did with their last entry.

      • Gerolt de livia

        don't worry, this game might be just a sub version from the main franchise,a spinoff something like that. i believe the 4th game will be bigger and better.

      • Gerolt de livia

        how much easier and straight-forward that you want to let the game to become uninteresting though,hodapp?

  • Kaung Myat

    for android released data please admit.....

  • RussianGamer

    I must say that I could never get bored by walking the distances in The Room 3, and that was an amazing game for me, though I’ve heard some less patient people complaining about the necessity to spend too much time moving across the house. Still it had the key features of a Room game: mechanical (or pseudomechanical) puzzles, stunning video quality and dark atmosphere.
    The Room 4, IMO, has combined the best of the previous parts. It’s all about the dollhouse, a huge puzzle box itself, and yet it allows to explore a lot of rooms inside, like in adventure games. Definitely 10/10 for the best Fireproof game so far!

The Room: Old Sins Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 5