Scratching that Itch…io: The Black Room


#41

This is where I am with it since Friday, which was when I last played. I’ve been writing up my thoughts since then. I plan on returning but I’m not sure if I should be waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak. The game has already left a pretty distinct impact on me, and there’s more than enough to write about and process from the time I already have with the game, but I would feel bad writing something up if I am missing part of the experience and have an incomplete reading of it.

I mean, that is already the case, because I did not read the store page description until maybe an hour or so into the game, so a lot of context is missing from that first hour or so and I should probably revisit it.


#42

i got a lot more out of the first section on my second time playing through the beginning largely because I had not read that description.


#43

nolbodyCraes

I’m returning to the game as promised. I’m starting to think it is brilliant and a lot of effort has been intended into it now that I’m coming back in and assuming that there is no end. It starts to feel like a state of a real person on a particular subject. Typically this type of thing is presented in the context as an obsession, but based on the beginning and the way it resonates with my personal experiences of finding ways to sleep and/or meditating, I see it as just a banal state.


#44

kyHq79
Freeways made my top games of 2017 list. I found it through itch.io and it left a massive impression on me for its easily understood take on the Zachtronics-like problem solving puzzle game.

Here’s my post for the waypoint GILM awards (just more description about why I love it): The GILM Awards 2017 Favorite Small Developer Game


#45

I feel like trying to play Yume Nikki again would be more useful in an examination of Black Room than trying to finish Black Room. I’m going to load it up later today and look around.

Edit: Actually, I’d rather try playing some of these for comparison.


If they don’t supply me with the perspective I need, I’ll go back to Yume Nikki.


#46

There is an end to Black Room, I wasn’t far from it.


#47

I really need to get there. I’m curious if it’s going to wrap back around to something similar to the sequence at the beginning.
I’m swamped right now so my writeup is going a lot slower than I wanted it to.


#48

When you load the game in the browser, one of the options is “Browse Rooms” the sequential rooms are listed under “Rooms” so you can just skip to wherever you want.


#49

I just downloaded Black Room and definitely want to give it a playthrough down the road. A teacher of mine recommended this game called Void Pyramid, too.

But I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it on this thread yet, because I eternally recommend it to every chance I get to. Please go play Beeswing! You can buy it here, but if you’d rather not purchase it, you can play it in the browser for free. It’s one of my favorite games!

Though, A Warning: the game talks a lot about death, and if you don’t like gore, there’s one particular scene (that I don’t really like) that comes up that’s pretty gross. To avoid it: when in the forest, don’t walk up to the bird. There might be other small things but I don’t recollect them.


#50

Thoughts on The Black Room


Alternate Title: The Black Room Will Make You Remember That Embarrassing Shit You did in Middle-School and it Doesn’t Even Care


Capture09

I don’t usually find myself feeling confused while trying to figure out what a game is about. Though I don’t really think that’s to my credit. Most games aren’t very subtle when it comes to themes or what they are intend to make the player feel. This is a medium where a game named Brothers has the subtitle A Tale of Two Sons to make sure you really understand what it’s about. Even in cases where a game is purposely vague, I never feel like it’s because I’m too dense to understand it, just information is purposely fuzzy. The sorts of games that make people say “stories don’t need to have answers for everything.”

The Black Room made me feel confused. Incredibly so.

I probably should have read the game’s store page first.

The Black Room is a game about falling to sleep, specifically the moments right before, and going down rabbit-holes on the internet late at night. This is important to know, otherwise the imagery, the words, the everything will leave you profoundly confused. I mean, I’m still profoundly confused, but with some reassurance that maybe that confusion isn’t all on me.

The game’s primary mechanic is strong: you are presented with a room, changing the shape of the room will change what you can see. The goal is to find the glowing object in the room and interact with it, leading you into another room. Usually there are other interactive objects hidden around the room. Some of these objects might reveal some text, others might send you into a mini game of sorts. The key aspect of this that I haven’t mentioned yet is that this is a browser game. So when I mentioned changing the shape of the room, what you’re actually doing is changing the size of your web browser! It never failed to make me feel a touch clever to expand and shrink the window to find all of the secrets in what was otherwise a humbling experience.

The rooms and scenes created in this game are striking to say the least. The first couple of rooms you enter are a bit plain, but still wonderful. Furniture of varying sizes and perspectives are pretty much the only things to observe in these rooms. As you progress through more rooms, things start to change into the fantastic. An ASCII art-piece here, a textured floor there, maybe a weird string of dialogue along the way. Eventually, these visions get much stranger and more inventive. Mythic beings greet you in each room, otherworldly plants and creatures start to pop up. Along with the rooms becoming more foreign, the secret landscapes you stumble upon do as well, with assorted sprites of all kinds all over the place.

The game was “conceived as a feminist dungeon crawler,” and I would say it succeeds in this regard. It evokes dungeon crawlers in many subtle ways. Stretching and shrinking the room sometimes feels like peeking around a corner as you try to look for hidden objects behind windows and around doors. And it’s portrayal of women seems to be… in a sense, radical? There’s something powerful about seeing characters I’m so familiar with outside of their usual games - where they were often fighting or treated as not much more than eye candy - just living their lives.

I should reassure you, yes, I felt confused because I felt I was missing something while playing this game. But I don’t want to imply that was because I wasn’t having an engaging experience. To the contrary, my curiosity was constantly piqued by the images and sounds and writing in this game. Especially the imagery. I wanted to make sure that I had good screenshots of the game for this piece, and each time I entered a new room I kept thinking “well, I NEED to capture a screenshot of this!” I have 34 captures now (and won’t be showing most of them because, well, you need to see this). Every vista will have you looking for the snipping tool or cmd-Shift-4. Just as much the game had me constantly reflecting on myself. This game evoked childhood memories, my greatest fears, my dreams. This game knows how to grab a hold of your brain and extract the very thoughts you would only think about as you head to sleep.

The Black Room is a great companion to help you explore a ton of different memories and ideas, vaguely guiding you from one thought to another. If you’re anything like me, you may not entirely get every image, sound, or verse, but you might just leave The Black Room a bit more understanding of yourself.

Capture23