The Room Two gets foreboding right

, | Games

As a child of 1980’s horror, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser has a huge place in my heart. Barker’s writing was weird and gross and sexual and served as a counterweight to all of the Stephen King I read. Where King’s writing scared me, Barker’s unsettled me. I didn’t always understand Barker’s stuff but I always got wigged out by it. Hellraiser, both the book and the movie, fit that mold perfectly. And for all of the body modification demonology going on in that movie, that damn puzzle box was the most unsettling thing in the whole thing. There was something about an innocent puzzle box serving as the gateway to a dimension of unspeakable terror that scared the crap out of me. What if I found a similar box in an antique store? What if I opened it? I was fifteen! What did I know about demons?

The Room Two, the sequel to Fireproof’s iOS puzzle/adventure mash-up, doesn’t have anyone trying to peel the flesh off of your face. But the amount of malice infused in every room and every puzzle is palpable. Unlike the previous game, where the puzzles were more or less benign, these puzzles have the same malicious vibe as the story. Whether it’s a ship tracking another ship through an unnatural fog, a violent seance, or an unseemly attempt at reanimation, the puzzles add to the feeling that something ain’t right in these rooms. And this journey may be satisfying to piece together, but it isn’t going to end anywhere good.

Thankfully the puzzles are ambitious enough that you aren’t going to end up as some demon’s plaything anytime soon. The previous game limited each room to a single puzzle. In The Room Two, you move among multiple objects within a room. The bouncing around lends itself to more confusion than the last game, but the increased complexity makes for puzzles that are as engrossing as they are admirable. The hint system can be turned off but I would have preferred a system that let me come to it rather than pinging me based on idle time. Juggling between all of the nooks and crannies of several installations in a room takes time. Repeatedly pinging me takes away more than it helps.

Because each puzzle is so well constructed, I would have liked more than six chapters, especially given that one chapter isn’t much of a chapter at all. The ending undercuts the moodiness of the story, but the journey’s the thing here. With every turn of a key or twist of an idol, The Room Two crafts one worth taking.

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