FREE GAMES REVIEW: Tiny Room
Very little room for improvement.
I don’t enjoy Room Escape games. If I wanted to spend my time randomly prodding at a screen with a sense of impatience and dread, I’d go back to online dating.
Everything you have to do feels like admin. And I refuse. Find your own damn key. Rescue your own damn princess.
Even if you don’t really know what’s going on, you could presumably complete most of these games just by hiring a crow to tap the screen for seed. It’s just a matter of time.
But in truth, genre doesn’t really matter that much. Very few game concepts are actually iredeemably bad. It’s all about the delivery. Tiny Room is a Room Escape game. It is about prodding at the screen. Sometimes with a vague idea of what’s actually going on. But for the most part it’s a clever, well constructed, genuinely inspired game.
What is Tiny Room actually about?
You’re a private detective looking for your father. It’s your job to make your way through a totally deserted world looking for clues to his whereabouts.
At least that’s what I think it’s about. The game took me a few hours to complete. In that time, I went from empty house to empty office block to basement to underground temple complex completing puzzles.
But the real puzzle was…WHERE ARE THE PEOPLE? The little evidence you find of people is members of staff setting computer passwords based on local taxi firm phone numbers and framing vault combination symbols and then displaying them in full view on the wall. All of these people should be immediately fired.
When it comes to setting a password, it’s inevitable that you should draw on something memorable in your life, but if your approach to password creation is Keyser Söze’s improv workshop — you should just use a randomiser. Isn’t that right Toby Red Lampshade?
While some puzzles are straightforward (number combinations picked up from clues in your environment) some are less intuitive. Move benches around in a church and a trap door will open. But what if a church warden does this by mistake, and bumbles down into an underground vault thinking they’ll find the motherlode of orange squash and biscuits? That same church warden may also wonder why sinister geometric shapes adorn the church walls, but presumably he’d then call Dan Brown.
Then there’s the plain odd. Press some letters on a wall and then they magically rearrange into a code. No wonder the places are empty. Dyslexic poltergeist are everywhere.
But these are minor quibbles. One of the very clever features of the game is the ability to rotate the scenes and so get to see things from four different angles. At its most prosaic, this may reveal a ladder on the other side of a building. At its most ingenious, you’ll find that the fact that doors are painted different colours on each side is significant.
Stuck? Try turning off the lights and see if that throws some light on the situation. Can’t work out how the combination of paintings are supposed to hang? Jab randomly at them. Yes, that still works.
Tiny Room succeeds because it’s a simple concept, well executed, with little moments of genuine brilliance. The puzzles can require some thought but it’s never screen smashingly impossible . It’s a perfectly satisfying use of few hours for people who like their Room Escape games a little more Broken Sword than broken record.
With a further installment to come, I’ll be looking out for more. Will I pay to play it? We’ll see.
Right. I’m just off to launch my new exhibition of artworks called Tiny Room. It deals with the worries of poor security practices in an online age. Why don’t you come on down? If you squint at the paintings in a certain light, you’ll discover my bank pin code.