Rumu – Review

I love indie games.

I love cleaning.

I love having various feelings over a vacuum robot.

I love Rumu.

Rumu is brought to us from Robot House, an Australian indie studio, and you might recall I wrote a little bit about it in my PAX Aus indie roundup. To recap, Rumu is a game where you take control of the titular robot, Rumu. Rumu awakes in a fully automated smart home, guided by nothing but its love of cleaning and the home’s AI system, Sabrina.

Your job, as Rumu, is to clean mess. And to love. But mostly to clean for the homes owners. Who, conveniently, are always out on various errands or having fun trips out. The game takes place over a week, divided into separate ‘days’ to play through. Each day leads to a new section of the house, new areas to explore and new things to uncover.

Rumu investigates the kitchen.

Initially, you just clean. Various spills, toast, bugs, if it’s on the ground, you clean it. But as the game progresses, Rumu is introduced to new mechanics. Given that this is a fully automated smart home, Rumu is able to rewire power to various appliances in order to activate or talk to them, or collect items to make the appliances work. There are also various documents to discover in order to figure out passwords to open doors and the like. The appliances are also something that can be fully interacted with. For example, I had a thrilling and emotional conversation with a laundry hamper. It makes more sense in context.

There’s also branching dialogue, though it’s not the main focus as it doesn’t lead to many changes or differences. Though given Allegra Clark’s amazing delivery as the AI Sabrina, it’s worth going back and choosing the different options just to see how she reacts.

The puzzles in Rumu are all very straightforward, there’s no punishment for wrong answers and solutions never take too long to figure out. Though this isn’t entirely a bad thing, as Rumu is primarily a narrative driven game, but I couldn’t help but feel at times that the game was a little too simple in areas. My biggest challenge came from remembering information for certain passwords, but most of the information was readily available.

Again, given that this is primarily a narrative driven game about finding the truth and cleaning mess, I wasn’t too bothered. Especially given that I didn’t want anything to slow the narrative down too much considering I was very eager to get to the next portion of the story and see what new appliance I would talk to, or when I would once again stumble on the lovable but mischievous cat, Ada.

Rumu snoops around the attic.

While short, with its total playtime clocking in at around 2-3 hours, it manages to pack quite a punch. And it would be an injustice not to mention all the love put into the environments, with every room full of amazing details to look at. Books to read. Appliances to talk to. Computers to browse.

It’s easy to tell a lot of thought, love and time went into this game.

Rumu is a game that shows just what Australian devs are capable of. It’s also a game that made me feel a lot of emotions and have a lot of deep thoughts about what it means to feel things, and how we all feel things differently. It also made me think a lot about snacks and how much I wish I could have conversations with my own appliances.

In short, Rumu is something really special.

Rumu is available right now on Steam.

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