App Reviewed on: iPad 2
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What would you do if you woozily snapped to consciousness, only to find yourself trapped in a room with a chainsaw wielding madman? Aside from making a dash for the door, most would be hard pressed to formulate any sort of plan for escape. The new puzzle/adventure game Murder Room puts the player in this exact precarious scenario right out of the gate. Does the game do enough right to make it out alive, or will it fall victim to limitations of the genre?
When it comes to first impressions, free-to-play games have it rough. It is critical that they make a connection with the player immediately that is strong enough to weather the minute span of their attention. The problem is that Murder Room has presentation issues from the word, "go." For starters, the game has an extremely odd letterboxing on the right side of the screen that renders a rather substantial bar on the right side of the screen completely unusable. Most likely this is due to being ported from a device with a different form factor, but regardless, it doesn't put the best foot forward.
Once the game actually starts, things begin to become more interesting. Using a series of swipe and touch interactions, players can get a better grasp of their surroundings. Certain elements in the environment can be used to the player's advantage, while others prove to be red herrings. As the story progresses, other characters join your escape, further complicating matters. Though rather predictable and otherwise formulaic, a compelling enough story is told to keep players wanting to know what is going to happen next.
Probably the most frustrating part of the game is how unclear it is to distinguish which items in the environment are usable and which are not. Items that had at one point been idle, suddenly will spring to life and purpose, without warning, reducing the game into more of a repetitive hunt-and-peck bonanza. Some people may find this interesting, but most will find it to be irritating at best.
Despite being a free-to-play experience with very visible flaws, Murder Room has a gripping enough thread to at least warrant checking out. Sure, you may only end up spending a few minutes poking around, but if you actually like the trial and error aspect of the gameplay, it will prove well worth the time. You can't beat the price!