The Room iPad

Key Features

  • Developer - Fireproof Games
  • Release date - Out now
  • Platform - iOS. Compatible with iPhone 4S and up; iPad 2 and up
  • Device tested - iPad mini
  • Price - £1.49

The Room

Now that the App Store lists for 2012 have been published, it seems like a good time to revisit The Room, an excellent point and click puzzler that Apple has called the best iPad game of the year.

It's deceptively basic. A wrought iron safe in the middle of a half-lit room, with a letter on the top promising there's something special inside. By tapping and pinching the iPad screen, you can zoom in on and manipulate certain parts of the safe's locking mechanism.

A panel on the side, for example, can be tapped to reveal a key, which you can then drag from the item menu to unlock another panel on the other side of the safe. It feels incredibly tactile, like you're actually reaching out and manipulating these objects. And as the puzzles get harder, those excellent touch controls come in very handy.

The Room iOS

Because when you finish unlocking the safe, there's another lockbox inside and it's much, much more complicated. The Room has this gorgeous Georgian aesthetic, with the puzzles comprising Allen keys and brass knobs and clockwork. When you've finally cracked the code and turned the last key, the resulting clicks and clacks as the mechanism whirs into life is always satisfying.

And there's a wonderful blend of logic and illogic, because although the boxes feel weighty and mechanical, and like they're made of expensive wood, you also have a magical eyeglass that can see into the spirit world and is needed to solve the puzzles. If, for example, you're confronted by a plain brass plate, flipping the eyeglass on might highlight a ghostly drawing that's been left on it in the spirit realm. Twisting the dais to complete the pattern will then unlock the safe, and so on.

Lateral thinking

The only problem with The Room is that like a lot of point and click games (Broken Sword, Monkey Island, The Walking Dead) a lot of the solutions come down to you listlessly tapping the screen, or bumping items together to see what works, rather than actually thinking them through. It's not exactly RuneScape, where you have to find some paper, ink and an accordion to make a vacuum cleaner to catch a seagull, but there's still some indecipherable lateral thinking required by The Room and it would be a better game if there wasn't.

App Store 2012 The Room

But The Room is still a brilliant game. In a sea of puttdownable iGames, it's one of the few that feels really involved and tangible and interesting. The gentlemen's club, billiard room colour scheme looks so unique among the other, more cartoonish and colourful froth games on the App Store. And the intricacies of the box puzzles are enough to hold your attention for much longer than it takes to get from Bank to Waterloo.

It doesn't have the simple accessibility of Angry Birds, or the highfalutin ideas of Curiosity, but in terms of the best mobile games of 2012, The Room is definitely a contender.

Score: 8/10