Ok, so, Doorways. Having played the first game many moons ago I was quite eager to get my hands on this 3rd chapter, even though I didn’t play the 2nd chapter. I enjoyed the first game as it was a small indie game that I thought had some nice work in it considering the small team involved. The team in question are Argentinian developers by the name of Saibot Studios which can found at this site…Doorways by Saibot Studios. Now first off they are a team consisting of 8 people so I commend them for the work they have done on this game, but there are some issues.
The presentation of the game starts off well, with nice use of atmosphere blended with an eerie soundtrack that gives the player a sense of foreboding. You play Thomas Foster, an investigator in search of a missing and dangerous former patient of a now abandoned mental institute. A promising start sets you in dark corridors and the chilling music and sounds only add to the tension as you find yourself hesitating to look around corners, afraid of the horrors that await you. There are notes and documents you come across as you trawl the hallways of the cavernous underground of the abandoned hospital. Locked doors halt your progress and small puzzles hinder your way and this unfortunately where it struggles with progression.
The intro starts off with a nice presentation with excellent use of music and sounds. The voice acting is very well done although a little more emotion is needed in the narrator’s voice. The music is done at a professional level while the sounds are used well in the game. The environments are very good at the beginning and with good use of 3d models. The first sense you get is Amnesia, and no I don’t mean forgetting your wallet before work i’m talking about Amnesia the Dark Descent. The same applies in Doorways, a 1st person horror game with puzzles and exploration, which mostly consist of finding keys and other objects to help you on your way.
The slow build up at the start of the game is welcome at first, you walk through the maze like corridors finding keys and notes all the while strange sounds ring out of the distance, but this is where it falls a little short. My first fright of the game came almost 35 minutes into the game, which even then it is a bit telegraphed in its sudden yet inevitable jumpscare. After the first initial scare you are then stalked by said beasty for the rest of the level whilst you find a key to open the final door to the next level.
Unfortunately the next level looks pretty much the same as the first, a lot of the same 3d assets are used and repeated throughout the first few levels which can get a bit boring and grating on the human psyche, as in “Oh god oh god please let me look at something else!”. The next few levels then consist of you finding keys and wheel cranks for various doors, again exploring empty corridors until the last few minutes of the levels a monster starts stalking the halls. This repeats itself for the majority of the game and becomes quite predictable. There is a constant lack of direction and guidance through out the game which only adds to the frustration of the lack of content. Only in the final levels are the frights ramped up enough for at least some adrenaline to start flowing through your body, but this is mainly the last 20 minutes of what is a 2 hour game at the most. The ending will leave you scratching your head waiting for the 4th chapter which as I write will be released August 20th this year.
The controls give you the option of using a gamepad or keyboard and mouse, I cannot recommend enough that you use your keyboard and mouse as the gamepad controls are almost unusable to the point where you’d be better off using a tracking ball as a controller. The keyboard and mouse variant on the other hand is your standard PC friendly controls.
Like I said before, the sound and music are top-notch and add to the atmosphere of a horror game. The production value of the score seems professional and the sounds are used in all the right places.
The puzzles and exploration system mainly consist of….there is a door!, go and find key, there is a pipe, go and find crank, and so and so on. Unfortunately this is pretty much the majority of the puzzle elements of the game.
On closing I really wanted to like this game as I know all too well how much hard work indie developers put into a game like this, and I can only hope that they get better and more recognition for what they do. Like I said they are only eight people so I have to give them some slack, but I can’t deny that I did get bored toward the end of the game.
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