Room for one more
Rooms: The Main Building was something of a hidden gem when it released on the Nintendo DS back in August of 2008.
The series’ original take on puzzling earned it a sequel – Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle – on other formats in the meantime, but this Switch release, now named Rooms: The Adventure of Anne & George, comprises that game plus 24 new levels, so it’s pretty much a deluxe offering.
Rooms takes inspiration from the tile-sliding puzzles we all used to play as a kid. In this case, each square tile represents a room, and your goal is to shift these around until your character can reach a door to escape. Challenges and puzzles are formed by some rooms having walls, floors and ceilings – you’ll need to slide rooms together which don’t have some sort of obstructing surface blocking your path.
The formula is made more complex with the utilisation of items including telephones – pick up a telephone in one room and you’ll warp to the corresponding colour telephone in a different room elsewhere on the board. Wardrobes work in the opposite way – enter one of these and it’s the corresponding rooms which switch places rather than your character themselves. As a result, the room placement is malleable – you don’t just have to slide them one space at a time. These puzzles start out easy, but the more rooms and obstacles within them, the more brain power you’ll need to break out in order to figure out a path to the finish.
Bombs are delivered from Jack in the Boxes this time around – in the last game you had to light them up with a candle. Ultimately the effect is the same – you’ll need to act quickly to get out of dodge before the thing goes off. The new additions to the basic Rooms formula, as they do in the first game, are introduced throughout the game’s mansions – which is an attempt to keep it all fresh, but ultimately there’s only so far that you can go with regards to originality in a game like this.
There’s also a two player mode in this one, exclusively on the Switch edition. This is where George comes into play. Using one Joy-Con each, you’ll need to both make it to the same final door. The catch, though – George is a doll, and will explode if Anne comes too close. That’s not all; you won’t be able to move any rooms with both characters in them at once as it’ll be too heavy, so you’ll need to team up to find two alternative routes which will get both characters to the same destination.
There are absolutely loads of levels here, so a lack of content isn’t an issue, but there’s only so much variation you can pull off with the tile-sliding. Playing through the whole game in one sitting is certainly a bit much, but fortunately the pick up and play nature of the puzzles offsets this and makes the game good handheld mode train journey material. If you enjoyed the first game, this offers a package which is ultimately a lot more of the same. It’s certainly a neat one to pull out with friends though for a quick blast, and scores good marks for its simple yet effective concept.