I'm conflicted. On the one hand, TomaTea's Room 39 is as lovely and challenging an escape game as you'd expect, but on the other hand, its soundtrack makes me feel like I should be 85 and back somewhere in the "old country" in the middle of a snowfall wearing my grandmother's babushka. Which couldn't be further from the actuality, since the room our beloved yet fiendish developer has locked us up in this time is all buttery yellows and flowery decor, complete with what I choose to believe are memorial Hatoful Boyfriend statuettes. To find your way out, you will of course need to solve puzzles, and as per TomaTea's usual, the game will inform you whether you've encountered the clue you need to solve them by telling you that you have no idea how to solve it. The tip of the cursor will glow slightly if you're hovering over an interactive area, and items in your inventory will pop up a small "i" icon when you mouse over them, allowing you to view them close up with a click.
TomaTea is one of those developers escape game fans tend to get excited about, and for good reason. With an eye for soothing visual design and atmosphere without sacrificing challenge, TomaTea knows how to make the sort of escape games that relax and engage you no matter what your skill level, while still avoiding being obnoxiously difficult or unintuitive. TomaTea games tend to be more about clues and codes than complex mechanisms, and Room 39 is no different. While it's still a little frustrating to be repeatedly stonewalled by the message insisting you can't solve a puzzle yet, the way the clues are hidden and must be interpreted makes up for it. Some clues do feel like they're hidden a little strangely or even in a somewhat clunky fashion, since at least one of them won't light up the cursor as everything else does to indicate you can or should click something again to get a new view. Because Room 39 is a bit less rigidly constructed than some of TomaTea's previous titles, you might not encounter puzzles, clues, and their solutions in a linear fashion, which would make it easier to solve said puzzles once you realized the "you shall not pass" message had vanished, so figuring out what clues are used where is a little trickier than usual. Though billed as a "five minute escape" (which is debatable depending on the player) like Blue Sunset and Waiting for the Sun, Room 39 isn't easy or simple, but definitely is just as clever and satisfying as you expect a TomaTea game to be.