Resident Evil 4 really is a cultural landmark. Aside from being a really, really great game, it gave us “Hey, STRANGAH” meme’s, boulder punching and such hilarious lines of dialogue as “I Knew You’d Be Fine If You Landed On Your Butt”. One of the most iconic aspects of Resident Evil 4 was its inventory management, which was almost a game in itself. ‘Save Room’, a game by Fractal Projects, takes that a step further by making the whole system its own standalone experience.
Making It Fit
In Resident Evil 4, utilising the entity of your inventory often meant the difference between life and death for Chris Redfield. Stacking ammo and reloading weapons to reduce space taken up. Combining herbs to reduce them down. Flipping things around to make them fit. Making sure you have what you need to survive was essential. Sometimes that meant getting creative.
Save Room is a little different. While it uses all of the same systems, the aim is slightly different. Rather than kitting yourself out to survive a zombie/parasitically infected town, you’re simply trying to make everything fit in your inventory. It’s essentially a virtual recreation of trying to pack a suitcase for a holiday.
Each item takes up a set amount of space. Ammo, grenades, herbs and first air sprays take up two blocks. Gun powder jars take up a square of 4 spaces. Weapons take up grids that follow their outline. The objective of each of the 40 levels in Save Room is to arrange everything in the inventory currently along with the items in the panel on the right hand side. Once everything is packed away, you can move onto the next level.
One Part Green Herb, One Part Red Herb
At first, that’s as simple as rotating each item and putting them into the space available until they’re all in. The space available to slot in all of your weapons, ammo and bits is always tight, and changes shape for each level. This means you have to approach each level like a jigsaw.
Soon you’ll have to start utilising some of the more Resident Evil 4 specific mechanics. These mechanics aren’t explained – Save Room presumes you’re familiar with them. You’ll find yourself with 3 boxes of the same ammunition. Separately, they’ll take up 6 squares of space. Stack them though and they’re reduce down to 1 or 2, sometimes halving there required space. You can also load this ammo into weapons, getting rid of them entirely.
The further you progress into Save Room, the more complex of a puzzle each level becomes. For example, about a third of the way through the game, you’ll have to start dealing with healing as well as inventory management. In essence, the former assists the latter. For example, you start a level and you have an orange ECG heart monitor line at the top of the screen. You can use one of the healing items – fish, herbs, aid sprays, eggs – to turn the heart line green, consuming the item and freeing up space. There are times you’ll have to intentionally harm yourself, by eating a bad egg or poison fish, in order to heal yourself with something else, just to make enough space to clear the level. With the increased complexity comes an ever increasing level of gratification with each puzzle cleared.
Safe At Last
If you’re not familiar with all of the nuances to the Resident Evil 4, you might find Save Room to be mildly frustrating at times. Towards the end of the game you’ll have to combine jars of gunpowder in order to make ammo, this enabling you to reload a weapon. If you’re not familiar with which jars combine together to make particular ammo however, this’ll need some trial and error.
I’ll be honest, it has been a number of years since I last played RE4 and I couldn’t remember which jars went with which. I imagine that if you’ve never played Resident Evil 4 a). you’d find parts of this game irritating and b). I’d have to question why you’re playing a game that’s obviously targeting such a specific niche.
What Resident Evil 4 players won’t forget however will be the vibe of the safe rooms. This is something that Save Room utilises wholesale. The looks of the screen is highly reminiscent of the RE4 inventory screen. The music that plays throughout has the same lengthy piano notes and tone as those you’ll find in the famous Capcom survival horror. Even the tones when you move through the menus feel familiar. While there’s no zombies or villagers, no masters of locking picking or tofu people, Save Room feels like a quintessential Resident Evil experience to its credit.
The T-Virus Strikes
It’s unfortunate then that the PS5 port of Save Room seems have been hiding a bit mark from its fellow survivors and is suffering from it. There’s one nasty bug in the game which appeared a number of times. The cursor square that you navigate the inventory with will occasionally get snagged in the grid. Press in any direction and it simply returns to where it was instantly. This means the level can’t be completed, forcing you to restart. Thankfully, the levels are all just a few minutes long so not a lot of progress will be lost, and restarts happen instantly.
Even without the unfortunate bug above, the control method in the PS5 version of Save Room is much more cumbersome than using a mouse, like you could in the PC version of this game. Some efforts has been made to make it less clunky – pressing square will instantly transport you between the 2 panels on screen, for example – but there’s no denying that the control method here is less intuitive than the original version of the game.
By turning Resident Evil 4’s inventory system into a puzzle experience all of its own, Save Room combines the familiar with the inventive. Its journey from PC to PS5 has left it with a few issues, but for its 2 hour runtime, this game will provide decent headscratchers in the vibe of a Resident Evil safe room.
Save Room is available now on PS5 (review paltform), PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles.
Developer: Fractal Projects
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete other reviews, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here. This game was bought by the reviewer.
If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.