My wife doesn’t play games, but does take a regular interest in what I play.
“Why are you collecting pornographic pictures?”, she asks. “Oh, I’m playing Yakuza 0”, I reply.
“Are you just driving a postal van around a big lake?” “Yes, the game is called Lake and it’s very chill indeed.”
“What are you doing here?” “Well, this is Save Room and it’s a puzzle game based on the inventory management systems from the classic Resident Evil games and others of the survival horror genre. In those, you only had limited space. But each object takes a different amount and type of space, so you couldn’t take all your big guns and health items with you. So, it was a real challenge to get the items you needed in the small space you had. And someone decided to create a whole game around that one particular concept”.
“Why create a whole game based on that?” was her only response.
I don’t have the answer to that, but Save Room is great fun regardless.
Save Room is the latest port from Ratalaika Games. More commonly associated with porting unknown PC titles to consoles, Save Room has a bit of hype surrounding it. This unusual puzzle game has done pretty well for itself on Steam, and now arrives on consoles with high expectations.
If the whole survival horror genre of the late ‘90s/early ‘00s passed you by then you may be wondering what Save Room is all about. In those games, players would breathe a sigh of relief when entering these safe rooms. These usually contained a space to save the game, and a chest containing the items they have collected so far. After saving, restocking and calming the heart rate down, players would leave these safe spaces to continue whatever nightmare they would find themselves in.
Occasionally, players would need to leave some items behind because their inventory space was too full, or certain guns didn’t quite fit in so they’d have to leave that extra healing item behind. Save Room is an entire game dedicated to that quandary.
Set across forty levels, players must piece together guns, bullets, herbs and more into their inventory, like you would a jigsaw puzzle. Everything fits in there, in a sense. Sometimes items need to be combined, such as reloading your guns with surplus ammo, or combining green and red herbs. Resident Evil fans will know exactly what I am talking about. Also, sometimes the player will need to decide whether to heal with a fish or an egg. Considering a fish takes up five squares compared to an egg’s single square, and both have the same healing power, the answer should be fairly obvious.
Forty levels may seem like a lot, but Save Room has a decent amount of mileage in these puzzles. What starts off feeling like a simple jigsaw, quickly evolves with additional tricky elements. Getting guns and ammo to fit is one thing, but when you realise you have one too many health items but are already at full health, something has to give. In Save Room you can’t simply wander outside and take a hit from a zombie either, you need to think logically and laterally about how to proceed.
To complement the safe room aesthetic are a number of other things. These are not necessarily there to make you feel cosy, but perhaps to rekindle those memories of hiding in these rooms back in the day. The graphical style is reminiscent of the menus of those survival horror games we were too young to play (but did anyways; somehow the nightmares still didn’t deter us) and there is a delightful typewriter typeface which pops up when examining and combining objects. And all this is topped off with a haunting melody that plays in the background, with cracks of thunder and trains rolling past. Honestly, at this point, I would like an old-school survival horror game with Save Room built into it as a minigame. It is that good at dredging up those classic memories of late nights and sleepovers, sneaking a copy of Resident Evil 2 round to a mate’s house, that it is almost detrimental to me wanting to keep playing Save Room and instead dust off the original PlayStation. Almost.
However, those older games didn’t boast easy Xbox achievements, unlike Save Room. Despite having a bit of hype surrounding it, Save Room is still a Ratalaika Games port at heart and there are twenty-six achievements in total, with the majority of those tied to completing certain puzzles. The remaining six are for trying various things – likely all things players tried in the older games – but there are a couple thrown in for attempting to complete puzzles in “not the intended way”. Levels can be replayed once you complete them, so any of the more unusual ones you missed can easily be loaded back up if needed. All in all, this is another easy completion in terms of achievements and Gamerscore.
It is worth noting however, that if you get stuck on a level, there is no option to skip it. You will either need to solve it, or Google it. No judgement here if you choose the latter option.
To an outsider, it can be tough to explain why Save Room works so well. It is a fully fledged game of a somewhat throwaway mechanic, but at the same time that mechanic is synonymous with the survival horror genre. So, by that token, Save Room is absolutely a game that should exist. It’s helped by the fact that it is a very good representation of said mechanic and so if Capcom or any of the new developers working on the Silent Hill games need a team to work on their safe rooms, look no further than what Fractal Projects have done with Save Room.
Save Room is available from the Xbox Store