You’re low on ammo. Wounded. Desperate. But you made it through the level and now you can take a deep sigh of relief and prepare for the next one. Time to heal, reload your weapons, and organize your backpack so you can fit all your gear neatly inside it.
That last bit is what you do in Save Room – Organization Puzzle. That’s all you do, in fact. This inventory management puzzle game strips out the shooting and monsters and danger and literally everything else but the very act of healing, reloading weapons, and making all your guns, grenades, and gear fit neatly into your grid-based backpack.
And it’s… pretty great?
Probably the most well-known ‘Inventory Tetris’ game is Resident Evil 4, but plenty of other games have grid-style inventories, from Deus Ex to DayZ. I think at one time or another we’ve all sat there carefully trying to optimize the placement of gear in a backpack or briefcase so that we wouldn’t have to leave a single item behind. Save Room starts out with a few simple puzzles to ease you in—fit a shotgun, pistol, and a few boxes of ammo into a grid—but the puzzles grow more complex and the grid changes shape as you progress.
It’s such a familiar feeling. Who hasn’t wanted to avoid discarding a weapon just because there’s not enough room in our inventory? Surely we can find space for it all: the long rifle, the long shotgun, the two pistols, and the damn awkwardly shaped uzi that’s annoyingly square instead of rectangular. Jam in some grenades and ammo boxes and a food item that blessedly only takes up one tiny square and it feels like you’re a master of efficiency. Like Tetris, you can rotate each item in Save Room, but unlike Tetris, you can combine some of them for peak optimization.
When you have several boxes of ammo, for instance, you can sometimes combine them to fit all your bullets in one box instead of two. And don’t forget to load as much ammo as possible into the guns themselves. (Guns, if you think about it, are really just little backpacks for bullets.)
The gif above is sped up so you don’t gnash your teeth in frustration watching me try to fit four guns in a bag.
And keep an eye on your character’s health—you never see what happens before you enter the save room but sometimes your HP has been reduced, giving you a chance to use a healing item. Yes, it restores your health, but more importantly, using up a health kit means that’s one less thing you need to find room for in your pack.
Save Room adds puzzles within its puzzles, like when you begin crafting: using different vials of gunpowder to create specific ammo types, combining herbs to make healing items. Sometimes you’ll need to use consumables in the proper order to efficiently eliminate them from your stash of gear. Did I poison myself by eating a rotten fish just so I could use up a health vial? You bet. Is that a ridiculous thing to do? It is. But it’s two fewer items I now have to find room for. A little salmonella is worth it.
The game made me laugh a bit, too. One puzzle has several guns plus an RPG with no rockets, and if I had a nickel for every time I lugged a powerful weapon I couldn’t use for hours through a game, just on the off chance I’d finally find some ammo for it, I’d have enough nickels to fill a second backpack. Can’t help it. Games with inventory grids have turned us into packrats, and as my father advised me on my wedding day: “If you find a weapon that can take down a helicopter, never leave it behind.”
Save Room contains 40 puzzles, and it will probably only take a couple hours to get through them all. But it’s a lot of fun, the background music is excellent, and it costs less than two bucks on Steam.