Demian's Gamebook Web Page

Item - The Rooms

Please log in to manage your collection or post a review.

Series: A Dread-Filled Pick-Your-Path Horror Novella
Author: Horvath, Stu
Illustrator: Tourigny, Yves
Date: April 2, 2018
ISBN: 1987482786 / 9781987482782
Publisher: Createspace
Length: 118 pages
Number of Endings: 9
Special Thanks: Thanks to Dane Barrett for the cover and copyright page scans.
Advertisement Blurb: The door in front of you is green and the brass number 62 hangs just below the peephole. Police tape stretches across the door frame in a zigzag pattern. The incandescent light to your left flickers. Something terrible happened here last night. For reasons you don't quite understand, you have to find out what it was. The Rooms is a horror novella in which you choose your course through the story and the decisions you make influence its outcome. Featuring nine possible endings and over seventy illustrations.
hadlee73's Thoughts:

I took a risk purchasing a copy of The Rooms: A Dread-Filled Pick-Your-Path Novella by Stu Horvath due to its extremely high price at the time. Price usually doesn't factor into my reviews, but as this sub 98-section gamebook costs the same amount as a 625 page 700+ section gamebook from the same retailer, I expected something pretty damn good!

So the reader takes the part of a protagonist who has decided to sneak into an apartment sealed off with police tape, the home of an old man who lives in the same building. You slip into the crime scene with one purpose, and that is to... well... impress your girlfriend, or perhaps reassure her, or maybe to revisit your past in flashbacks... the protagonist kind of stumbles around his motivations without being overly clear. He also does not inform anybody that he is going to enter the apartment, so he's on his own if something goes wrong.

A very nice touch in this book is the artwork, and how several illustrations are included to cover different angles of the same room dependent on which door you enter from. Its a small thing, but sometimes small things make a book.

As you wander around the apartment, you will locate clues about the life of the occupant as well as encountering some unsettling happenings along the way. For a while the atmosphere is very engaging and the game system the book uses works quite well. You are required to keep track of map locations, your cellphone battery charge and a timer, and all of this is done via a nicely-illustrated tracking sheet resembling those used in print-and-play boardgames. And here is where the first of the book's problems rears its ugly head.

For a book that cost as much as this one did, I would have expected to be able to play it straight out of the package it arrived in. Unfortunately, for whatever reason which may never be explained, the designer deemed it unnecessary to provide the map sheet that is actually required to use the book. Instead of having it printed in the book itself or on the back cover where it could be photocopied, you will find it necessary to visit the artist's website to download a PDF of the document (good luck finding a copy if the website is ever taken down). I might have been able to give this a pass if, say, the book had been priced reasonably, but, and again I hate to harp on about it, any book that cost as much as this one did really should have had a copy of the sheet included as part of the purchase! Also, I should also note there is an error on the sheet I acquired from the download anyway, with the wrong section number being printed upon one of the doors (I only discovered this after I'd mapped out the book and realised the passage was orphaned from any other sections).

After a while of exploring the apartment, things will take a turn for the strange. The reader may experience some nice Silent Hill vibes as the apartment changes, making the exits different as well as the contents of the rooms, and causing the apartment to become difficult to navigate. Sadly, this effect only lasts for a brief intermission before the book takes another unfortunate twist. The reader, after performing a certain action, will start following a series of around 12 sections in a row without being given a single choice to make! Doing this is one of the cardinal sins of gamebook design, as it abandons any interaction for the player and instead seeks to become a novel again, albeit temporarily. Unfortunately, the pages for these consecutive sections are kept brief, and therefore several of them are mostly filled with the white space of blank paper. Should I mention the cost of the book again, considering the interior real estate wasn't even used to its full extent?

After you get past this lengthy interlude of zero interaction, which admittedly includes one of the creepiest parts of the book (and don't get me wrong, despite my criticisms, the writing in this book is top notch from the author, developing some wonderful tension at times), you will eventually move on to the end game where a different ending will be selected depending upon which clues you picked up along the way.

Unfortunately, the endings are almost all outlandishly bizarre, with almost none of them having anything to do with... well... anything. Would you rather drown unexpectedly for no reason, throw up everywhere after glancing at a furnace or perhaps finish your day staring face-first at the enormous naked junk of a giant birdman? I don't even consider these spoilers, as nobody reading this review will make head nor tail of anything from those descriptions, and neither will they even if they actually read the book themselves, I suspect. Take your pick, but don't expect to actually find out what really happened to the apartment's occupant or any decent reasoning as to why you even went in there. Now I get that this review may seem harsh (and it is) but I will remind you that the writing in this book is actually quality stuff, despite sometimes there not being enough of it on some of the pages. For a while at least the book is really quite engaging and atmospheric. Only when the story goes off its rails in its latter portions will you really question whether your wallet should have taken the substantial hit in purchasing this interactive novella. Maybe it will be worth your time if the price is ever reduced or you find it cheap somewhere secondhand, but don't fork out full price for this thing unless you really do have a disposable income!

More reviews by hadlee73

Users Who Own This Item: hadlee73, Himynameistony, jdreller, kesipyc, marnaudo

Please log in to manage your collection or post a review.

Related Documents

Play Aid

The Rooms - Deluxe Edition Blank Map
Sourced from Permission granted to print and make reproductions for personal use.

The Rooms - Standard Edition Map
Sourced from Permission granted to print and make reproductions for personal use.