The Room Three improves an already near-perfect puzzle series

By

The Room Three
The Room Three has you exploring a spooky manor full of puzzles.
Screencap: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

We didn’t think it was possible to improve on the amazing second installment of The Room, but developer Fireproof Games has delivered.

The third entry in the puzzle series, The Room Three, takes everything we already loved about the franchise’s Myst-style puzzles and mysterious, Lovecraftian horrors and makes it bigger and smarter. And then it throws in a new character, the most coherent and engaging plot yet, and multiple endings, which it didn’t even need to do, but all of it is great.

You start The Room Three sitting in a train car on your way to investigate the cryptic occurrences of the previous games. Suddenly, the mysterious Craftsman, who is almost certainly up to something, appears and sends you on an errand to fetch a bunch of magical pyramid-shaped stones that will open a door to … somewhere.

It’s all pretty vague and cryptic — in the best way — and your journey through the creepy mansion that houses the game’s puzzles slowly clues you in to what might be going on. One weird new mechanic this time around has you using the series-standard eyepiece, which reveals hidden symbols and puzzle pieces, to transport yourself inside small environments. It’s a purely cosmetic thing; the clues and mechanisms inside a model lighthouse could just as well be siting on a table in the corner of the room, but it adds to the uncanniness and straight-up bizarre nature of everything that’s going on, so this is a cool addition.

The puzzles are as good as ever, and The Room Three drops its predecessor’s hidden-clue hunts in favor of a series of more hands-on, mechanically themed rooms. It fits with the idea of the Craftsman (i.e. a guy who builds stuff), so this time around, your path will have you forging keys, building models, and operating oscilloscopes. It’s a satisfying shift that makes the series about more than just opening boxes and finding invisible runes.

We loved both The Room and The Room Two, and this third installment outdoes both of its predecessors by far. It has a few solutions that are maybe a little vague, but that’s really just part of the point-and-click adventure tradition that it’s picking up, and if all else fails, the in-game hint system is smart enough to point you in the right direction without taking your hand and leading you.

But basically, this should be on your iOS device right now.

The Room Three is out now for iPad (also iPhone compatible) and costs $4.99. The writer purchased his own copy for this review.