Developer: The Paper Robot
Room13 – Review
Room13 is a dark enthralling action-packed shooter styled hack ‘n slash platformer developed by a one-man development team, The Paper Robot. Its dark aesthetic spiced up with crimson red and easy controls is all you need to be sucked in the gruesome labyrinth of stairwells, death-traps and hordes of monstrosities.
You wake up in a mysterious room with no windows and multiple stairs leading nowhere in particular. The house creaks and as you try to find your bearings, a heavy pounding can be heard from miles away, accompanied with heaving groans. You search your pockets and find a basic handgun, seconds before a horde of monstrosities barge through the wooden planks. With no place for hiding and no open door to run to, your survival instincts kick in and you do what must be done.
Unfortunately Room13 does not offer a narrative, neither written nor spoken but the game offers enough details in plenty of aspects for the player to create their own story.
One of the detailed aspects is the visual representation of the video game. Although Room13 is a 2D platform game, the various backgrounds in each level offers enough details for a general concept to form. All the rooms look rundown in their own way and each room has a similar detail to them; steampunk-like mechanical contraptions. Aside from that, each room also has its own theme; from a library to a simple bunker-like shooting range, from an art gallery to an abandoned circus. There are plenty of rooms to discover.
The abundance of rooms however is not quite the game’s strong suit as that medal is handed out to the dark yet stunning colorization. Much like The Binding of Isaac, Room13 has a cartoon-like feel to the graphics but the combination of all types of greys with a splash of deep, dark red is what create the disheartening atmosphere that is perfectly on par with the monstrosities you are facing.
Although Room13 does not offer much in terms of soundtrack, it adds enough creepiness to the atmosphere thanks to the ambiance sound one might find similar to B-roll horror films. Thankfully the lack of a soundtrack and the irritating looping ambiance noise are quickly forgotten and replaced by the munching-sounds of the zombies and the solid variation of pops of your weaponry. The slashing of the melee weapon and the explosions do help in that matter.
Room13 is a dark and twisted shooter styled hack ‘n slash platform game in which your enemies are not your common zombies but experimented monstrosities with a similar taste for human flesh. The game can be played with the traditional keyboard as well as a controller. Having tested both, we can conclude that the controller felt more natural although certain buttons may take some time getting used to.
In each gameplay, you’ll be trapped in a room with several staircases and one or more closed doors. Starting off with a basic handgun, the zombies can be killed with only one bullet but your ammo is sparse. As the zombies can come from any side of the room; left, right, top, bottom and sometimes even in boarded up windows in the middle. It is because they spawn literally everywhere that you can’t use a standstill tactic.
Once a zombie is killed, they will drop organs – which the developer has dubbed as gibs – and you’ll need to run around the room, picking up these slimy gibs. On the bottom-right of your UI is a “gib-meter” and once filled, a battery will drop. Aside from the regular health -and ammo packs, these batteries are key to surviving the rooms. Once you’ve collected three batteries, the remaining zombies will explode.
The clearing of a room is essential as you’ll be able to loot crates for a limited time, about seven seconds more or less, which can contain awesome items ranging from weapon upgrades to face masks. Equipping a new face seems odd but every face has its own unique ability. Equipping a carton box allows you to “hide” on the ground and the zombies will walk past you. The balloon face allows you to inflate it so that you can the higher levels of the room quickly. The pig mask on the other hand gives you a bigger health pool but also gives the player the ability to throw a chunk of meat, which the zombies will ravage but also explodes after a short time. It’s always a joy to see how far you can get by simply equipping a new face.
Before the timer has run out, you’ll need to have entered a new room or you can choose to stay in the same room. As long as you remember that staying does not mean that the difficulty stays the same. Once in a while, a boss will appear and just like the rooms themselves, the bosses are random generated. And just like the faces, each boss has its own unique abilities that you should be aware of. Certain boss fights are a roll in the park while others are a chaotic mess. Either way, the variation is great for tons of replays.
Room13 is an unforgiving hack ‘n slash platformer that will leave the player addicted for more. With stunning cartoonist visuals and a well-executed natural gameplay experience, the game is a blast to lose track of time in and with the randomized rooms, boss encounters and loot, the replay value is endless without losing its edge.