Bacon or death?
Doors is a mysterious first person logic game created by Calvin Weibel and designed to test the abilities of even the sharpest minds in an intriguing way. You are launched straight into the game from the options menu and are lead down a gorgeous grey-scale path in what appears to be some sort of forest. Strolling along the path reveals the simple rule of thumb that players must adhere to in order to complete the game; in every puzzle is a door that leads to bacon. All other doors lead to death.
The first puzzle is still a part of the tutorial stage of the game and the player is met with two doors, a red one and a blue one. Based on the famous riddle “The Honest and Dishonest Guards”, the object of the game is to use the instructions, embedded in the ground in front of the doors, to decide which of the doors are telling the truth and which of them are not and more importantly, which single door leads to bacon and which door or doors lead to death. The mechanics of the game are clearly demonstrated in this initial puzzle and though this initial test is easy to complete, it paves the way for the far more complex puzzles that follow.
As you push forward in this silvery environment you are drawn in by the incredibly realistic sounds of the game. The sound of harsh wind and water dripping through rock surfaces provides spine chilling audio during game-play and make for an unusually immersive experience. Completing one puzzle and then the next, you will travel from a forest path, through a lonely desert and even into the depths of a cave, a unique collection of settings, all of which conceal a familiar set of doors and instructions.
Doors takes a sharp and mysterious turn after the completion of a few puzzles and suddenly reveals itself to be far more than a simply designed atmospheric indie. Suddenly inside some sort of office building, you are met with a brand new and colourful environment that is a startling contrast to the ghostly domain that housed the doors.
Calvin Weibel has mentioned that he was inspired by The Stanley Parable when designing Doors and this becomes evident as you wander through the empty hallways of what initially appears to be an abandoned office building. Doors lacks the witty narration that made The Stanley Parable the charming experience that it is, in fact, there is no dialogue in the game at all but Doors does present a similarly perplexing environment that is a palatable break from the somewhat repetitious doors.
Now completely severed from the previous elements of the game, the tension escalates and exploration is rewarded in the office as you discover clues that allude to a rather sinister sounding conspiracy. The purpose of this deviation from the original mode of game-play is to give context to the doors and to attempt to explain why you are there and what you are doing. On the surface this plot appears to have a lot of potential but, sadly, it was only partially explained through a series of non-sequential handwritten notes scattered throughout the building and leaves just a little too much to the imagination. Unfortunately, Doors fails to explore the narrative at any length once you leave the office building and return to the doors and a lot remains unexplained by the time the game concludes.
Though the number, shape and colour of the doors varies from puzzle to puzzle the nature of the objective is routine but increases in difficulty as you progress. Doors occasionally becomes monotonous and mentally taxing as some of the more difficult puzzles require a great deal of analysis and logical dissecting. Incorrectly choosing a door results in falling through a bottomless matrix to your death but the re-spawn time is quick and it is therefore a relatively painless experience if you make the wrong decision. It is possible to complete the puzzles by simple trial and error rather than using logic but to do this would be time consuming and defeats the purpose of the game. To play Doors in one sitting is a brief but somewhat exhausting adventure that may take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour on average. This being said, the sense of achievement which comes with completing a challenging puzzle makes the intellectual labour ultimately worth the time spent on it, particularly for fans of this genre.
Despite being a pleasurable initial experience, the novelty wears out fairly quickly and due to the nature of the logic puzzles in Doors, the game has very little replayability. The only value in playing Doors a second time stems from the opportunity to find out more about the events that drive the game. If you managed to do all of your investigating the first time around, however, this will bear no significance and a single play-through will likely be more than enough to satisfy.
Doors is an entertaining but somewhat lacklustre game that abandons the makings of an interesting plot far too hastily and simply fails to live up to its potential. For casual gamers and fans of the puzzle genre, Doors is a cursory experience that requires patience and logic above all else. With enticing visuals and an atmosphere that perpetuates an eerie ambience, Doors is decorated with influence from heavy-hitting titles like Limbo, Portal and The Stanley Parable. Though it is arguably lacking in personality, the game should not be dismissed entirely as it is an enjoyable way to exercise your higher-order thinking skills, perhaps on your lunch break.