What was the worst gift you ever got for your birthday? Mine was a box of cat poop (true story), though even that was probably not as bad as the gift received by the main character of Rooms: The Main Building. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle that transports you to another world where the only means of escape lie in traversing a hotel whose secrets need to be exposed in order to make it home. Actually, after giving another thought, I think the feline feces might be the crappier of the two (no pun intended).
Rooms is presented in a style that at first attempts to look like a film noir style comic book, but then throws some eerily out of place talking treasure chests and other colorful set-pieces into the mix. It doesn’t matter though, because all you’re really here for is the puzzles, am I right? Thankfully, the demo has a surprising amount of them.
There are two facets to the gameplay of Rooms. First you have what is basically a point and click adventure style segment where you navigate a hotel and try to find objects that will allow you to progress through the building. It’s also a place where you have an opportunity to use the items that you may have picked up in the puzzle segments (more on those later). You can also get advice from the talking treasure chest I mentioned earlier about what to do next.
Any time you are outside the hotel, you have access to a map which lays out a series of puzzles that you are tasked with solving, as well as determining how far you need to go to unlock the next item. This is the core of the gameplay and where you’ll likely have the bulk of your experience. The object of each puzzle is to get your main character from a starting room to an exit door by shifting rooms around on a grid and making use of the items within them. Depending on the stage, you may have ladders to climb up and down, wardrobes that allow you to swap rooms, and telephones that will transform you into several lines of binary code and teleport you to another room like something out of The Matrix.
The Wii remote is used as a point and click device, so it’s very easy for anyone to pick up and play. The demo seemed to do a good job of explaining how the game is played as well as easing you into the puzzles by only introducing one new gimmick at a time. If the main game is paced like this, fans of the puzzle genre everywhere will be delighted.
One look at the main menu suggests that there will be several other modes aside from the main story. In fact, according to the description, not only will the final version include over 100 puzzles, but you will be given the opportunity to create your own. These puzzles can in turn be shared with your buddies online (though hopefully without necessitating the use of an arbitrary friend code).
While puzzle games are not necessarily my genre of choice, I’ve played enough of them to see that Rooms is at least trying to put a unique spin on the genre. As long as this title doesn’t degenerate into a glorified series of sliding block puzzles, it has all the potential to be a standout third party title on the Wii, something the console definitely needs. Look for it on March 23 of this year.