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In Room 301 No.6, the Lost Memories of Alzheimer's Patients Are Warmly Treasured

By Weilin Li
Sep. 22, 2022 updated 05:30

On each day in the game, she starts her life with a little disk that looks slightly astrological. The disk has some notches, and she controls a small ball to escape out the bottom edge of the screen. After that, the day officially starts, a difficult day, but one that brings a series of warm memories to her, an Alzheimer's patient.

This opening is from the narrative puzzle game Room 301 No. 6, developed by Inter Frame Studio and published by Gamera Games and YLS Program. The game builds fragmented blocks to form a maze, and the player, as an older woman, must navigate through the maze on the left screen in order to look around the room, which is presented on the right. The player will examine objects from her life and interact with them by clicking the mouse.

Every day you try to organize these precious items with your daughter. Sometimes the task is to find four significant objects, collect them, and, as the conversations unfold, cherished memories of your family return.

After that, you traverse scenes of various retro-style rooms, finding objects and recalling memories in a subtle and symbolic way.

For example, the maze itself may indicate that the Alzheimer's patient had a confused memory of the outside world. The window in the game is always a small rectangle, showing a part of the entire room, representing the cognitive impairment that Alzheimer's patients face every day.

In this way, the devs have skillfully combined the maze escape gameplay and the lived experience of the patients together.

Initially, I found the process of solving the puzzles easy, but on the second day, I did get stuck, unable to find the clues. After a few attempts, I was able to progress the story by clicking a photo on the wall and began to feel the difficulty curve was actually very fitting.

Taking medicine on time is important, representing the pain Alzheimer's patients face every day.Taking medicine on time is important, representing the pain Alzheimer's patients face every day.

Items collected in puzzle game Room 301 No.6Items collected in puzzle game Room 301 No.6

As the player progresses, they will learn that the woman was a teacher and cared deeply for her students and their studies. On her retirement day, her husband took a picture of her at the school gate, a memory she holds dear. Her daughter studied dance and later went overseas; some of her awards and favorite childhood toys are displayed in the room, adding to the variety.

As many Alzheimer's patients experience, the player will not see a sudden change but a day-by-day increase in difficulty completing the same tasks, even with the help of medication.

That was true while I played this game. I expected the fifth day to be repetitive like the first four days, but the decline of the memorizing function brought me unexpected difficulties. The original clear photo wall became a blur, and no items could be captured. The only type of thing that can be found is medicine.

It was then that I began to feel nervous. The triggered memories showed heartbreaking conversations about sending her to the care facility between her daughter and the institution’s worker, where she asked, “When will my husband come back?” Only to be reminded by her daughter that he had already passed away.

A screenshot from Room 301 No.6A screenshot from Room 301 No.6

The game does not only hold a lens to Alzheimer's disease but also focuses on themes of aging and intergenerational relations. In the end, there is a quote that touched me deeply: “Sometimes precious things cannot be found until you learn to truly cherish them.”

The same is true for us with our parents and older family members, and Room 301 No. 6 not only provides a captivating game experience but also gives players a window into the lives of people important to us.