How do you take a series in a new direction when it’s already so well established as The Room? That must have been the question facing Fireproof Games when it sat down to work on The Room: Old Sins. The fourth game in a series is always going to be a tough one to make, and even more so when it’s the newest entry in one of the best-loved franchises in mobile gaming.
Obdurately stick to what came before and you leave yourself open to accusations of resting on your laurels, or try something new and risk losing what made the previous games so great in the first place. But in the end The Room: Old Sins took both paths, and Fireproof created another mobile masterpiece.
The game sits apart from the main story of the other three Room titles, focusing instead on characters we haven’t met before. There are shades and references, but you don’t need any previous knowledge to come in and enjoy the tale that this one weaves. And it’s a dark and creepy tale indeed.
For the one part there’s the the atmosphere of dread that The Room has always done so well. Every dark corner feels menacing, every new reveal feels like a step into some terrible place that you’re not entirely sure you should be going to. But there’s also another thread, one that’s almost worse than any supernatural monsters the game might spook you with.
And that’s the human thread, the story of love and obsession and tragedy that unravels at every twist and turn. In a way it’s heartbreaking, and if you’ve played the other games in the series, there’s an added poignancy and urgency to proceedings. After all, you know what happened to the other people who messed with the null element.
But this wouldn’t be a Room game without puzzles, and they’re just as good here as they’ve ever been. They’re even more focused than in The Room 3, with the doll’s house at the centre of the experience giving you a moody and oppressive loci around which the rest of the game spins.
The Room series has always been somewhere near the pinnacle of the mobile gaming pyramid, and this entry is no exception. It’s every bit as slick, every bit as gloomy, and every bit as unsettling as the games that came before it. But it adds something into the mix that some might have found lacking in the original trilogy.
And that’s humanity. And an understanding that many of our worst fears aren’t of the supernatural, but of the things we might do to the people we love. The Room: Old Sins isn’t just a horror puzzler, it’s a fable and a warning too.