Sometime during the Christmas of 1993, my wife scared the shit out of me in my office. She achieved this by walking up behind me and putting her hands on my shoulders while I was playing Myst for the first time. I no longer recall where I was in the game, what I remember was I was deeply lost in the evolving narrative of the game – I was on this island, strange events were occurring, and I was trying to figure them out before… before what? I don’t know what was going to happen – I was freaked out and more so than when my wife’s hands landed on my shoulders and I leaped out of my chair.
In 1993, Myst was a technological feat. It was an effortless blend of pre-rendered images with just enough Quicktime video to give you the impression the world was alive. The arrival of Myst drove adoption for the then-nascent CD-ROMs, but while the technology was amazing, what cemented Myst in my memory was how I became engrossed in a story that was barely being told. It was being experienced.
The reason I’ve been thinking about this is that sometime during the Christmas of 2013, my wife scared the shit out of me again. She achieved this by simply rolling over in our bed while I was playing The Room 2. The Room and The Room 2 are iPad games. The premise of the first game is extremely simple: you’re in a dark room and there is a safe. On top of the safe, is a note, some books, and a smaller chest. Your goal: via puzzles find the narrative.
The puzzles are not complex. You’re going to figure them out by paying attention, noticing details, and experiment. Again, what drives the game, like Myst, is the evolving narrative – what the hell is going on here? Unlike Myst, The Room began on a smaller scale, but with vastly better technology at its disposal. If you think there are no truly great iPad games that show off the hardware and the touch interface: you are wrong and for a mere $.99 you can correct this misconception. But to understand how my wife freaked me out, it’s going to cost you another $4.99
See, the success of The Room allowed developer Fireproof Games to evolve the story in the sequel. There are many rooms with many different kinds of puzzles and in an effort to keep this brief review spoiler-free – there is something else. It’s a thing which is hinted at, it’s hiding in the shadows, and while you might never see it, it’s going to freak you out.