“Be not afraid of great games. Some games are great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” As the great William Shakespeare once wrote. A Room Beyond is certainly one of these games. And just as a quick warning before we get into it; this review will contain light spoilers. By light spoilers, I will not tell you how to solve any of the puzzles or any details about the conversions that you have. But I will tell you about some of the things you encounter, as this is important for giving you an idea of the atmosphere. But I want to start with the story, as this is the core for any point and click adventure, which is exactly what A Room Beyond is.
The game starts with an unknown entity preforming an arcane and dangers (I assume) ritual. This is also the tutorial where most of the point and click mechanics are explained to you. This is mostly, as you would have thought, pointing and clicking so make sure you have a comfortable mouse. You then wake up with no memory of how you got there. And as we know nothing about the character either, it allows us to play him however we see fit. Once we break free we a plunged into the world, and what a world it is. With no knowledge of the where we are or the character we play or what on earth is going on, it seems fitting that most of the explorable area is hidden in fog with eerie music playing to accompany you on your travels, in certain areas. I was instantly hooked by this. And even though I am terrible at solving puzzles I kept at it, desperate to finish the first episode and find out more about the mysterious on goes.
The pixel art style suits it as well, as it means nothing is quite clear. You can never quite work out if that old lady is scowling or smiling at you or, indeed, which would be creeper. I have to say that the screen I played it on, (32” 4K) it did get a little tiring on the eyes, but this was my fault as the options did recommend that I play in Windowed mode with a smaller resolution. “WINDOWED MODE” I scoffed, but it was I, dear reader, who came away feeling scoffed and a little sore-eyed. You should play it in windowed mode if you have a particularly big screen. I can see A Room Beyond being an incredible experience on a phone or, my personal favorite handheld, PS Vita. Despite the issue, I mentioned above, I would not want the art style to change one iota, as it fits in with the theme of the game wonderfully.
Gameplay… Well, pointing and clicking, but you can also hold left control to see things of interest, which means for terrible puzzle solvers like me, you have a hint button to help you out. I did still have to tab out at one point to get the next part done. Knowing what you want to do, or knowing what you must do to progress does not always seem to allow you to get that thing done. You need to follow the game's internal logic for solving the puzzles. The one I was stuck one was obvious when I knew how to do it and I cursed at myself for not being able to work it out without the assistance of a guide. They were well thought out though, and I can see how over the coming episodes they will grow more complex as the story unfolds.
For the most part, the game is silent, aside from the sounds that the environment makes. This is quite possible better suited than a creepy soundtrack over the entire game; it keeps you on edge while playing. The character’s speech is not voiced, aside from my video review where I read the character’s dialog, which makes the moments where there are sound effects even more horrifying. It is also as if every aspect of A Room Beyond is there to keep you in suspense and wanting to find out more and given how little I know, there is a lot of finding out to be done.
As point and click adventures go, I think this one is a must play. There is a free demo (Episode 1) available on Steam and if you don’t want to rush out and purchase the whole game after playing it then nothing I say can possibly convince you. I would highly recommend that you take a look at this one either on Steam or the Developers website. The only thing I would like to see is a release on a handheld platform, but then I worry that this may take away from the atmosphere. Sitting along, with nothing but the light of your screen to illumining your surrounding keeps you more on edge. And even though you are expecting it, you still jump when the women screams. (If you can get one of your friends to scream at this point it would be ideal, but if not don’t fret about it too much.)