At the moment, a lot of VR games feel like glorified tech demos, or short-lived experiences. On the contrary, The Room VR: A Dark Matter feels like a full game from start to finish. While the story is a little underdeveloped, the puzzle gameplay mechanics are polished and innovative. The animated sequences are fluid and crisp and the sound effects are superb. But if I had to sum up this review of The Room VR in just a single sentence, I’d say it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to being in a real-life escape room within a video game.
The Room VR: A Dark Matter is available on Oculus (multiple headsets), SteamVR, and Playstation VR.
In The Room VR, you play the role of a London detective trying to solve the missing persons case of an esteemed archaeologist. However, as soon as you begin investigating, things take a supernatural turn for the worst. You are transported to places the archaeologist was last seen before his disappearance. To solve the case, you must complete the puzzles that the archaeologist completed and follow after his footsteps. The only problem is the puzzle is the entire room.
The game’s puzzles are based on the environment and the entire room is a giant puzzle. Playing through the game, I was constantly reminded of the National Treasure films with Nicolas Cage and in the end, The Room VR makes you feel like a modern-day cross between Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes.
There are some really ingenious uses of the VR medium that add to the immersion of the game. For example, there’s a certain puzzle where you have to push, pull, and twist a lever in order to open a certain box. However, you also have to execute incredibly fine movements, as if you were picking a lock. I didn’t even know the Oculus Quest was capable of registering such tiny movements of the controller.
However, the key to a great puzzle game is to create puzzles in a way that matches the environment and builds on the story. Doing puzzles for the sake of doing puzzles will eventually get monotonous over time and unfortunately, that’s what happened in some levels of The Room VR. But overall, most of the puzzles are unique and even if you find yourself get bored in a specific area, I urge you to soldier on because the next room will be completely different.
One of my favorite elements of the game was the easily-accessibly hint bar. If you are stuck on a certain puzzle you can simply press a single button to bring up the hints menu. This option helps keep the game moving smoothly.
The Room VR uses teleportation locomotion combined with limited real-world movement. However, teleportation is locked to fix locations in the rooms. You can only move to areas with interactable objects and environments.
Sitting or standing mode
The game is much more immersive in standing mode, but there is also a sitting mode available. The game calibrations for the sitting mode were very well done and the entire game can be played comfortably in a chair, so long as you have a clear space at least an arm’s length away from you in all directions.
While the game still suffers from the Quest’s lack of graphical power, The Room does look much better than a lot of other games on the Oculus Quest. When compared to Last Labyrinth, for example, The Room is miles ahead in terms of animation and overall graphics quality.
Everything from the room design to item interaction was incredibly well done. The objects in the rooms are dynamic and evolve as you play the game. Watching objects transform or walls crumble before your very eyes is striking at first. The dynamic environments and animations really help add to the tone and setting of the game.
Soundtrack and Audio
While the game has a lot of great things going for it, one element that stood out in particular during our review of The Room VR was the soundtrack and sound effects. The mysterious and suspenseful score helped set the tone for the game. At times, the music alone made you fear what was behind the next door.
From the sound of the wind blowing through an open door to the sounds of a witch’s cauldron boiling over the fire, everything was incredibly realistic. Quite frankly, I was blown away by the production quality of the sound effects throughout the game. While it is an aspect many casual gamers don’t pay a second thought to, the sound effects are an unsung hero that really strengthens the immersion of The Room VR even if you aren’t consciously noticing it. Out of all the games on the Oculus Quest that we’ve reviewed, The Room VR definitely stands out in terms of sound effects and audio quality.