Crimson Room Decade: Boggle Your Mind
Remember playing "escape the room" puzzles? If you're like me, you probably played a lot of them in the computer lab of your middle school while you waited for class to start. The Crimson Room series was one of, if not the first game to use the format, which would soon become the framework for many flash games: you wake up in a room, the door is locked, escape the room. Now, more than ten years later, Crimson Room gets a sequel on Steam, in the form of Crimson Room: Decade.
Fiendish Difficulty, Rewarding Puzzles
The first thing you should know about Decade is that the puzzles contained in the one room are mind-boggling. It's very possible, even likely, that a single play session won't lead to any progress, as knowing what is and what isn't important for any one section of the puzzle is very difficult. If you're the type whose easily frustrated with adventure game puzzles, than Decade will not be for you.
For those with a bit more patience, you'll find that Decade achieves a lot with very little. The list of usable items is actually very small, but they're all used and re-used in clever ways. Not only that, but there are a few other twists and turns that I won't spoil, but which definitely change up the game.
Nostalgic, But New
Crimson Room: Decade is very similar to the previous games in the series, but a few things have changed. The textures are a bit more detailed, as they were just flat colors in the original, and the items are much more detailed. Visually, however, the game looks very dated, as it's incredibly obvious it was made with the Unity engine.
One aspect of the game that has also changed is your ability to walk around the scene, rather than using fixed cameras as most games of the genre, and the previous games in the series, do. This makes the game feel more natural like you're actually trapped in this room and greatly adds to the player's immersion. I actually felt the claustrophobia that comes from being trapped in a room about the size of a broom closet, which is definitely a point in the game's favor.
Decade has a plot, but it's only in the form of notes, and they're not the most engaging or interesting. Some of the notes do hint at solutions to the puzzles, though, so I'd recommend reading them very carefully. Another word about the plot I feel I must mention is the ending, which, even given the slightly supernatural solutions to some of the puzzles, makes absolutely no sense. It's a really disappointing and somewhat baffling way to end the game.
Crimson Room: Decade is occasionally frustrating but overall rewarding, and a great game if you're feeling nostalgic for some old flash game style fun. If you've played previous games in the series, this is a great, more modern take on the formula, despite the dated graphics. If you haven't played the previous games, give them a look as well, they still hold up rather well.