Berlin, Nov 2017
Second of the three games currently available at The Room, The Beast of Berlin has you investigating a serial killer, and is significantly darker than its two sibling games. Whereas I’d encourage you to play their other games with a team of 2-3, Beast is a larger game for which I’d suggest 3-5 players – though that’s partly because my team of two failed badly!
My initial impression was that the game was more traditional and unassuming than their others, using a more standard style of decoration that had fewer inventive, fun ideas than Go West and that fell short of the remarkable decor of Lost Treasure. First impressions were misleading though, and by the time we finished I had a better appreciation for the level of detail and attention that’s gone into the build. This is a horror game that actually created an environment I’d have been happy to spend more time in – I mean, yes, it was twisted and ghoulish, but it achieved that with a much greater level of artistic care than the more typical approach of spraying fake blood, turning the lights down and leaving some plastic body parts around.
Unlike the other games at The Room, Beast requires plenty of searching, which is one reason I’d recommend a larger team size. Although we inevitably struggled with that, that wasn’t where we messed up; the game is designed to be fairly resilient to a failure to find one or two of the critical clues. The point that caused us difficulties was relatively early on, with one puzzle in particular. First we incorrectly guessed it was for later use, and kept looking elsewhere instead of focusing on the bit that was actually blocking us. Then even once a hint had pushed us back towards it we missed something small and as a result kept getting non-answers. Despite a great deal of frustration at the time, in retrospect the puzzle looks entirely reasonable; there’s plenty of potential distraction information available in the game at that point, but it would have been clear enough had we just not focused in the wrong places.
Beast uses perhaps my least favourite game theme, horror based around a serial killer story. We spent a fair chunk of the game frustrated with it, and then ended up frantically playing through the rest in a panicked top speed, and failed to get out within the 60 minutes. And despite all that, I still came out thinking it was remarkably impressive. The same inventive, varied puzzle design seen in their other games shines here as well, as does the quality of the components used. It evokes its 1920s setting effectively, and then proceeds to crank the creepy atmosphere up step by step, getting better and better as it goes along. It’s the largest and probably the most challenging game at The Room, and while it doesn’t reach the heights of Lost Treasure, its grim sophistication shouldn’t be missed.