Oxide Room 104 Review

Three things I like about this game, and two I don't

Oxide Room 104

By Paul Hunter

2022 should officially be renamed the Year of Horror™ because damn it's been such a great year for horror fans. The thrills continues this month with Oxide Room 104 from developer WildSphere and publisher Perp Games, and available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PC.

Oxide Room 104 is an escape room horror game where you play as protagonist Matthew who unexpectedly wakes up in the bathtub of room 104 inside the Night Soul Motel, following a shady business deal gone sour. From that moment forward, as Matthew you'll need to use your wits and logic skills to solve the puzzles of the hotel and escape alive. With that in mind, let's jump in the tub and breathe in the oxide air, here are three things I liked about the game...and two I didn't.

Liked: Clever Puzzles

Escape room fans and those who like good horror game puzzles are sure to enjoy what Oxide Room 104 has to offer. The bulk of the game revolves around finding hotel room keys, entering the rooms and solving the myriad of puzzles inside. There's a good variety of brain ticklers to solve from chemical mixing to deducing lock combinations to arranging objects in specific orders. In all, there are 14 escape rooms, plus the spacious hotel grounds and a creepy laboratory to explore containing their own puzzles.

I had a lot of fun solving the puzzles and appreciated how well thought out most of them were. There's palpable tension in each room with some of them having these creepy enemies called Nibblers that are basically legs with a huge torso mouth lined with razor-sharp teeth. Sometimes in the middle of solving a puzzle a Nibbler will burst in turning situations deadly. It's possible to shoot the enemies dead with the pistol you acquire early on, but there is a pacifist trophy if you manage to beat the game without firing a bullet. You also have to be careful to not make mistakes in each escape room as objects can prick Matthew and make him bleed out in seconds.

Having recently played a bunch of horror games heavy on action, like Dying Light 2 and Ghostwire: Tokyo, it was a nice change of pace to flex my mental muscle playing Oxide Room 104.

Liked: Increasingly Hostile Hotel

One cool aspect of this game is each time Matthew dies, he returns again to the bathtub of room 104 as the motel becomes even more macabre and hostile. Enemies will changes positions from the previous run, more enemies will appear to make the current run extra difficult and new enemy types will even emerge. When you think about it, this system really does suck for you the player—while some games give you assists or the option to drop to an easier difficulty after death, in this game the nightmare just gets worse and worse. This steep punishment for death ratchets up the tension and makes you carefully consider each move.

It's not only the enemies that change with each run, items and puzzles can change too. Rooms that might have had a key in a particular corner could now have a poison plant in that same spot and the key's changed location. Or you might even need to solve a puzzle in a whole new way. Of course, this remixing of the hotel makes it dangerous to die, but also increases the game's replayability since it's exciting to figure out how to beat the hotel's more hostile variations.

Liked: Choose Your Own Adventure

Another standout feature of Oxide Room 104 is its flexible progression. In the main hotel grounds hub area you can find several room keys, giving you the option of how you want to progress. Some rooms also contain multiple keys, again leaving it up to you to decide which escape room to try next. Being able to choose your own path through the hotel lets you mold your own story, but also lets you decide whether you want to mainline the campaign or explore the numerous optional side rooms.

For added replay, the game has four different endings depending on how many times you die. It's great then that you chart your own path because when attempting the 'no death' run you can only grab the mission-critical keys and ignore the rest. The other endings require you to die between one to four times, which can get a little tough considering each death there are more enemies and harder puzzles to solve.

Didn't Like: You Can't Restart Runs

In a really odd decision, if you're going for the 'no death' ending and happen to mess up and die there's no simple way to restart and try again. Instead, you wake up in the tub on the more challenging second run. In order to restart back to the original hotel configuration you need to die four times—a total waste of time and extremely frustrating. And guess what, if you die again on the retry, then you have to go through the whole annoying cycle again.

From a narrative perspective, waking back up each time in the bathtub of room 104 makes total sense. But as a player, nobody wants to waste minutes of their time dying (and watching the lengthy, unskippable death cutscenes) over and over again. A simple retry button would have helped alleviate all that aggravation.

Didn't Like: Combat is Bad

Oxide Room 104 would have been a better game, with greater intensity, if the developers simply omitted the gunplay combat. The main Nibbler enemies are barely phased by your bullets and just keep walking towards you, which just doesn't seem realistic. I also wasted a ton of bullets shooting enemies like these arms that reach out of walls to grab you, or the poison plants, and neither of these enemies die. What's the point of having a gun when the majority of enemies are invincible?

The most fun I had playing Oxide is when I stopped using the gun and instead worked my way through the game using stealth. That was the clearest indication to me that this game simply doesn't need its half-baked combat.

The Verdict

If you're looking for a neat indie horror game to play over the weekend, Oxide Room 104 delivers a satisfying experience. It's not a long game—you can beat it in about two hours—but with four endings and multiple remixes of the hotel there's plenty of replayability. I especially enjoyed the escape room puzzles and thought the majority of them offered a good challenge. If horror puzzles are your thing, don't hesitate to pick up this refreshing adventure.

Final Score: 7.5/10 - Good

Oxide Room 104 details

Platform: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: WildSphere
Publisher: Perp Games
Genre: First-person Horror
Modes: Single-player
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

A key was provided by the publisher.