What else can you say at this point?
Spoiler alert: You’re in a room.
Strange machines are in there with you. Levers are pulled. Puzzles are solved. Keys are turned with highly satisfying mechanical clicks. Hidden compartments–sometimes a little too well hidden–are revealed. Weird magical stuff happens. You know how this works by now.
So it’s understandable if maybe you’re starting to feel that if you’ve seen one Room you’ve seen em all. To dismiss this as just more of the same, however, is to overlook the tremendous innovations they’ve made here.
For instance, they’ve added a colon as well as some extra words to the title! They also now use the numeral “4” as opposed to spelling it out, which I’m sure has some profound esoteric significance beyond the ken of mortal knowledge.
Well, it may not sound like much on the surface, but if you’re as completely sold on this style as I am there’s definitely a lot here to appreciate.
By comparison this latest addition might seem like a step backward. For one thing, it’s lost the element of physical exploration that really stood out in the third game. The whole thing takes place in an attic where bit by bit you investigate a magical model house. You’d think a structure like that would lend itself to all sorts of creative meta-puzzles designed to connect devices and events across various rooms; but while that does happen to a limited degree they never really take advantage of the full potential. Mainly it just amounts to extra loading screens while you’re backtracking in search of that stupid little switch you overlooked.
Same thing with the story. Instead of trying to keep up the pace and go even bigger than before, they shift gears to a more personal tale, which comes across as almost a return to its roots even though it’s quite different from the first game. It’s kind of a daring choice. I mean, the easy route with sequels is always to keep upping the ante, trying to make everything grander, more complicated and more exciting, yet here they do the opposite.
My antipathy toward stories told through log entries has been well established, but in this case the static format actually works. Snapshots of the past mesh with the discrete transitions from room to room. It’s more about setting a certain mood than wrapping you up in the details of a complicated plot, and they manage to imply a lot of stuff without really spelling it out.
Gameplay-wise, it’s also quite a bit easier than its predecessors, but since I’m pretty dumb at solving these puzzles that turned out to be a good thing.
Contrast this with House of Da Vinci 2, and you can really appreciate the greater refinement here. There’s no screwing around with chases or melodramatic dialogue, which keeps the the familiar vibe of the series intact. Plenty of arcane symbols and secret societies who stand around in onimous circles wearing hoods and capes, with a silent, veiled menace always brooding just beneath the surface.
Yeah, this formula never seems to get old. Might as well just go ahead and start building a whole new wing to hold all of these, because I’m clearly never going to get enough of them.