The Room: Old Sins is the latest release in a series that goes back to 2012, which I regret to inform you was more than five years ago. Wait, don’t focus on the existential dread! There are games to play, after all. Now, the games in this series are puzzle games first and foremost. You’re meant to enjoy the intricately-designed puzzles and the way everything connects before anything else. But there is also an intricately-designed, connected story going on in the background, and each game has revealed clues and plot pieces at a steady rate. Maybe you’re excited for Old Sins, but you can’t quite remember what happened in the last game, or the one before that. Well, we’ve got your collective backs, friends. Here’s a spoiler-heavy summary of the first three games in the series for those who want a quick refresher.
In case you didn’t see me warning you about the spoilers in that last sentence, I’m saying it one more time. There are spoilers for the first three The Room games in the rest of this article.
The Room (2012)
In this game, you find yourself trying to solve the puzzles found in a single room. You’ve been brought here by a letter from a mysterious person known only as “A.S.", who also provided you with a key to get things started. After completing the first puzzle, you’ll gain access to a special lens that allows you to see previously hidden objects and marking. As you solve puzzles, you’ll come across more letters from A.S., describing his experiments with a new element he calls the Null. It turns out the Null is what you’re seeing when you wear the lens, which was crafted by A.S. for the purpose of observing and experimenting with the Null.
A.S. seemingly becomes more unhinged as the letters continue, talking about bizarre visions that seem to get worse the more he uses the lens. He also attempts to summon the demon Astaroth, seemingly to no avail. Your character also starts to see some strange things as the game goes on. In the end, after solving the final puzzle, the lens shatters and a doorway appears. Just as A.S. did before you, you step through, out of the room and into the unknown.
The Room Two (2013)
The Room Two picks up where the epilogue of the first game left off. You’ve stepped through a door that closed behind you and are now in a strange new location. Fortunately, A.S. has also been here and has left you a new lens to replace your broken one. This time, solving all the puzzles in a room opens a door to another one. These rooms are somehow connected in space and time by the Null. Through solving puzzles, reading letters, and observing your surroundings, it becomes clear that A.S. wasn’t the first person to stumble on this strange discovery. Indeed, each room is connected with the brush others have had with the mysterious element. A.S. finally figures out how to escape, but feeling guilty about pulling you into this mess, decides to help you escape, too. Unfortunately, time moves differently in this dimension. By the time you find A.S., he’s nothing more than a withered corpse.
We learn that there is some link between the Null and human souls. The soul can be changed into Null, but any people whose souls are used in this fashion are effectively erased from existence, right on down to their faces being seemingly scratched out of photographs. The Null itself is a remarkable power source, able to even reanimate dead tissue. After solving the final room with the help of A.S.’s final assistance, another door appears. When you step through, you see the safe that sat in the original game’s room. Recognizing the location for what it is, the main character bolts out of the room and the house itself as fast as possible. As the protagonist watches on, the house is consumed by horrific tendrils and implodes. It’s all over. Or is it?
The Room Three (2015)
No, it isn’t. This game starts with the main character on-board a train bound for an unnamed island. The protagonist is haunted by the events of the previous two games and can’t seem to put the Null out of their mind. They make a plea to the Royal Institute, who appears to be covering things up or trying to get the protagonist to stop looking into it. One of the members slips the main character a piece of a map leading to an island, and they immediately head off to look into it. After passing through a tunnel, tendrils engulf the train and the protagonist finds themselves imprisoned in an unknown location. A note from a stranger named The Craftsman tells you that you are now in Grey Holm, the home of his ancestors.
The Craftsman appears to take credit for the puzzles of the previous games, talking about how no one escaped him until you. He tried to keep you away but now has need of you in order to reach the source of the Null, which is why you were called back into this mess. He challenges you to prove yourself worthy by solving his puzzles. Rather oddly for an adversary, The Craftsman seems to hold you in high esteem, buttering you up at every opportunity. His tone becomes more like a teacher or someone training an apprentice. What happens from here depends on your actions, as this game has multiple endings.
In the Imprisoned ending, it is revealed that you were tricked. Stepping through the final door, you’re back on the train. A note reveals the truth of your situation. Your character peers out the window to see a giant labyrinth, which is revealed to be inside of an orb, inside of a puzzle box, sitting on a table in a room. In front of the table the box is sitting on, tendrils wind their way out of a doorway. You’ll never escape the labyrinth you found your way to the center of. Wow, what a dastardly guy that Craftsman is!
The Escape ending feels somewhat similar to the ending of the second game. By solving non-mandatory puzzles found in Grey Holm, you’ll uncover new items and notes. The Craftsman’s plan is laid bare through these notes. He himself is a prisoner of sorts, building puzzles for an entity even he doesn’t seem to know the identity of. The only way he can find the source is to travel through a portal generated by a machine that is powered by special crystals. His energy is running low, however, and he’ll need to find a new power source lest he be lost forever. He decides he needs a particularly brilliant soul to sufficiently power his machine, and surmises that due to you being the only one to ever escape, you must have such brilliance. He uses the last of his energy to lure you to Grey Holm, where he hopes the pull of the Null will keep you from realizing the trap you’re walking into.
This time, there’s one more puzzle to solve. Once you do that, a new door will open that allows the main character to escape Grey Holm by boat, watching as the whole mansion implodes. After getting back to normal civilization, the protagonist realizes that all evidence of Grey Holm’s existence has been wiped out. More importantly, the lingering curiosity that took over the character’s life after the incidents of the first two games is now gone. The main character can now move on with their life.
In the Release ending, things play out in much the same way. This time you solve a slightly different puzzle and head through a different door. Nevertheless, you’ll end up escaping from the boathouse and watching Grey Holm go up in smoke. The difference here is that there is a storm in the sky above Grey Holm, with massive tendrils dangling down from the clouds. The final note seems to suggest your character was put in an insane asylum. The protagonist explains to an unknown recipient that something was released when the final gateway was opened, and that doom will soon be upon us.
The Lost ending is the strangest one, but also the coolest. After yet another slightly different puzzle, a new doorway opens. Stepping through sends you to what is apparently the source of the Null. You find yourself on an alien planet that appears to be Mars, standing in front of an ancient-looking temple. The door opens, inviting you in, and the protagonist steps through.
Which, if any, of these endings are canon? Will The Room: Old Sins settle any of the questions raised so far, or simply build on the mystery further? Who is the Craftsman? Who controls him? What’s the deal with Mars? How do all of those puzzles fit inside the puzzles inside the puzzles inside the puzzles? I don’t know if playing Old Sins will answer any of that, but there’s only one way to find out, friends.