Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle is, you guessed it, a puzzle game from developer HandMade Game. It’s not a match three or a point and click style game but instead something more unique that will really make players use their brain to master. Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle uses a sliding room mechanic and this interesting style of puzzle is just one of the reasons I think puzzle enthusiasts will enjoy this game.
Let’s hold off on the gameplay a bit and talk about the first things players are introduced to when they begin to play Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle, the aesthetics and music. While the color palette is similar to the original game, Rooms: The Main Building, the style of art and animation is much more whimsical and reminiscent of a claymation film. Visually the game is beautiful for it’s genre and a nice departure from the more realistic style of the original.
The music in Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle is also well executed. Perfectly matching the aesthetic and mood of the game, the tracks range from magical waltzes to a mysterious tango. Story features heavily in Rooms, although not integral to the gameplay, and the music really helps set the tone.
In Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle, you play as Anne, a young girl who finds herself trapped inside a mysterious mansion after it shows up outside her house one night. Once she has entered she must solve a series of progressively more challenging puzzles to find her way out. Interlaced with the story-line of Anne’s exploration throughout the house is another tale discovered through storybook pages unlocked incrementally after finishing levels.
Aside from Anne’s progression through the mansion there also is a fairy tale-esque story told through silhouette illustrations and text on a story book page about the mysterious Toymaker (the very same whose home you’re wandering) and a magical puzzle piece. The story is intriguing and nicely told. In a game in which the main mechanic is executed so well, puzzle solving would be enough to satisfy players; however, in Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle, the story is a nice little cherry on top of a simple yet uniquely sweet little sundae.
Not to give anything away, but the story doesn’t have a happy ending. Despite being a game great for children with a knack for puzzle solving, the ending is a bit grim. There are some expected plot twists along the way but the ending takes a dark turn that I found refreshingly satisfying.
The ‘Truly Unsolvable” quip from this review’s title alludes to the story ending and not the actual puzzles in the game. While the puzzles are more challenging than a game of Bejeweled , none of them feel unsolvable. In fact, avid puzzle gamers that are looking for a true test of their skills will likely be underwhelmed, if still entertained, by Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle.
Everything about Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle is subtly done yet straight forward to figure out. There are no overbearing tutorials or hint buttons; you have to figure out how to solve the puzzles yourself. That doesn’t mean there aren’t clues though. Subtle hints found in the background on the rooms’ walls can help you figure out where to move next. Careful observation will definitely be rewarded in Rooms 2.
The object of each level is to find a way to the door so Anne can leave. Many of the levels require a key to unlock a door; others use bombs to break away boarded up pathways. It’s up to the player to figure out how to get to the door and many levels have multiple solutions. However, to get the top score there is a set number of fewest possible moves players can take to reach the door.
In Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle, players will find special tools inside the rooms to help them find their way out. Tools such as teleportation phones and room swapping wardrobes which make the puzzle solving more intriguing with each new special ability. Players will also encounter obstacles such as cursed puppets that will be an instant game over if they catch you. Other obstacles include locked rooms that won’t be able to slide around or poisonous gas clouds Anne can’t walk through without dissipating.
As you play through the levels of Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle, more levels will be unlocked, including whole new mansions with their own set of sliding room puzzles to solve within. With four mansions, each with a more advanced basement section to play through, the game has a respectable 144 puzzles to solve.
Separate from the mansion levels, or “story mode” of Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle, are the basement levels to each mansion. These levels are intended for more advanced players who have at least made it through the first 11 mansion levels. There are new abilities not seen in Rooms: The Main Building or the mobile version integral to solving the puzzles in the basement.
Anne wears costumes in the basement levels that give her special items or abilities. Like the schoolgirl outfit which comes with a cellphone able to teleport its user to any phone on the puzzle board, or the Saboteur uniform which can place a portable bomb. These new abilities sound like easy-mode after puzzling out a few mansions, but in practice they actually make the gameplay more challenging.
In the basement, special items like the cell phone can only be used a set number of times, and if you use them all up without figuring out how to get to the door, you may be better off just starting over. The 3rd and 4th basements are especially tough as multiple rooms have to move at once. The basement levels are new content for the Steam version of the game and add some very interesting gameplay.
Default controls for Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle are for a mouse. It also fully supports an Xbox 360 controller. The controls work fine either way as it’s simple pointing and clicking. Rooms: The Main Building was ported to DS a few years after it’s PC release and its sequel could also be a good fit for the 3DS, as the sliding room mechanic is just crying out for touch control support.
Perhaps the reason Rooms:The Unsolvable Puzzle doesn’t come off as a hardcore puzzle game is that it isn’t especially punishing. Players are free to replay levels as many times as they like. To simply progress through the story and unlock the next level it doesn’t matter how many moves you make to solve the current level, with the exception of the basement levels. Depending on your puzzle preferences, this could be a pro or a con.
This sliding puzzle game is in a sweet spot between casual puzzling and hardcore solving. The puzzles aren’t brain bending but they are certainly brain stimulating. Puzzle gamers that enjoy the Professor Layton series or mobile sliding puzzler Play Shapist may want to give Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle a play.
Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle is available for PC, Mac and Linux on Steam for $9.99.
This game was obtained from the developer and reviewed on PC.
Will you be giving Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle a try?
A cute little sliding puzzle game that's more well suited for casual players than intense puzzle solvers; Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle is beautiful with a nice story.