The Empty Room

by Matthew Alger profile

One room/Science Fiction
2010

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Number of Reviews: 5
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A Casual Puzzle Game, August 13, 2010
by Felix Larsson (Gothenburg, Sweden)

The Empty Room is is a short game, way out at the crossword end of the IF-spectrum. There’s hardly any story to it; indeed, it's a single multi-step puzzle. You find yourself inexplicably imprisoned in a perfectly empty and totally white room, where, at first, you can't even make out where floor and walls meet. You yourself are quite as characterless as the room—but as this is very much a mere game, this doesn’t trouble the NPC very much and need not trouble the player at all.

Your task, obviously, is to get out of that room; your means to that end is, to begin with, to examine whatever may after all be supposed to be examinable in that room. Gradually, your searches will uncover details about your environment and start to reveal hidden contraptions that you have to operate in the right way finally to find a way out of your prison.

As soon as the room is no longer perfectly but only almost empty, the player probably makes fast progress, one thing leading to the other in fairly obvious ways. As the strange devices hidden in the room start to interact with each other, things get less obvious. Make sure that you examine and re-examine everything, reading and re-reading descriptions carefully!

The puzzle of the game is solved in a large number of small independent steps, so the player keeps making progress at a rate that, though decelerating, still suffices to reinforce playing behaviour positively. That helps, for some of the steps to your way out you probable have to stumble upon by chance. I did not find that seriously frustrating, however, since the room is never crowded with things and there is ever only so many actions to try.

Also, the game plays with the ‘counterpart’ idea that you find in several recent games (notably Plotkin’s Dual Transform). The room and its contents has each its counterpart, and sometimes some things can only be made to happen to things in one room by manipulating counterpart things in a counterpart room.

If you need a short game to satisfy a casual puzzle craving, finding your way out of this empty room may well do the trick.