A Room Beyond is a classic point and click adventure inspired by old school Lovecraftian horror themes. Your protagonist wakes in a cave at the beginning of the game. Initially tasked only to explore the island you’ve woken up on, you eventually discover the mystery of the Fog Wanderer. This eerie figure has been stalking the local area and nearby town, murdering unsuspecting villagers. As you can imagine you’re thrust into the heart of this story and things escalate quickly.
The gameplay is textbook point and click. You can explore, collect items, and use or combine these items to solves puzzles in the world. A handy highlight functionality shows things in the game world you’ve yet to interact with and the parts of the screen that lead you to another part of the world. Combat (which is introduced from the second episode) is very basic and is just a case of hitting left mouse button repeatedly to kill creatures – usually strange glowing spiders that are servants of the Fog Wanderer. Combat never truly posed a challenge and the only times it did were due to poor controls rather than the enemies outmanoeuvring me.
The 2.5D pixel art design looks pretty good. It reflects the game well and it’s hard to imagine it looking like anything else once you get settled into it. Colours pop in all the right places and the general gloominess of the genre is reflected in the dark and foreboding environments. The only real issue I had was the art style is the way in which it impeded the actual gameplay occasionally. Multiple times I found it difficult to see nuances in the environment that would have allowed me to complete a puzzle faster. It’s hard to know what you’re meant to do when you can’t see the game properly – go figure.
Of course, puzzles play a big part in the game. They’re relatively difficult – sometimes because of challenge the artwork can present but also because the puzzles themselves occasionally don’t have a logical solution. This means there is a fair bit of trial and error. Not necessarily a bad thing with this genre but I found it happening just a bit too often for my liking.
The atmosphere is well done too. Again, slightly hindered by the visuals in my opinion but I think this will come down to personal preference. There are a couple of moments where the sound is used to excellent effect, one of these times being the end of episode two. I won’t ruin it for you but I felt palpable fear and I attribute the majority of that the excellent sound work. These moments of fear do heighten the game and it’s a sham they’re so few and far between. While the Lovecraftian influence is felt throughout, I don’t think you can call this a true Lovecraftian game. Themes such as the unexplained strange occurrences and characters losing grip on reality because of the strain they’re under come through strongly, but the horror elements that these themes should produce never fully materialise.
There are a few quality control issues with the game. My biggest bugbear is the times you have a follower, most notably in episode two, and the way in which she gets in the way. The unnecessary difficulty in getting around simply because of the way this follower was positioning herself was enough to have me tearing my hair out. The occasional typo in the text also jars a bit. I know it shouldn’t matter, and those that take the game to heart will be able to overlook it, but it takes even more of the polish off the game.