Gamersyde continues its round-up of indie games with Doorways, the first two chapters of which were released on Steam just a few days ago. Initially offered with a nice 10% discount for only €8 (the normal price being €8,99), Saibot Studios game may not match the ambitions of its competitors but, despite a few missteps, is still quite pleasant overall. Read on for details. Note: Translation by our good friend dark10x.
Dora the Explorer
Despite the “survival horror” label, Doorways is more akin to a horror adventure in which the player explores somewhat “disturbing” environments while searching for key items needed to proceed. The first two chapters offer a few scares and some incidental deaths but most of the danger stems from the game's writing and voice work which delves into the twisted psyches of serial killers. Limited by relatively modest technical underpinnings, Doorways leans heavily on darkness to build its atmosphere. The opening forest area misses the mark in this sense but pushing forward certainly reveals a more sinister abandoned house to explore. There is however no sense of real fear and jump scares are scarce. Thankfully though, the disturbing atmosphere is enough to keep you moving. To be fair, the second chapter is much more effective, dominated by underground corridors not unlike those in the original Tomb Raider. The danger becomes more palpable even if the level design feels a bit bland at times.
The core gameplay is relatively simple and old school in its design with a mixture of platforming, which can sometimes frustrate when the character misses what seems to be an esay jump, alongside puzzles in line with Resident Evil or Tomb Raider, such as finding keys and pushing blocks. The tutorial suggests a level of exploration which is never quite reached, with key objects well hidden under rocks requiring further exploration, but the game winds up being rather stingy on this level. The game mostly devolves into an item hunt. The second chapter, however, brings some welcome changes to the table, including some rather menacing statues which are not as immobile as they may seem. We can only hope that the following episodes build on these concepts and avoid the few missteps of the first chapter. Some of the core gameplay mechanics are indeed on the questionable side at the beginning of the game: a torch that remains lit for only a few seconds, for instance, is a cheap way to build tension that ultimately results in frustration and annoyance. Its tricks, then, sometimes fall flat in a way that something like Amnesia never did.
Considering the cost of entry some might say we should expect a few more bells and whistles here but, despite obvious teething problems, the atmosphere exudes enough personality to grab our attention - the presence of Sam A. Mowry (voice of Alexander in Amnesia: The Dark Descent) certainly doesn’t hurt. Still, we can only hope that the gameplay evolves into something more satisfying while the tension is perhaps ratcheted up a bit. As it stands, Saibot Studios have produced an intriguing but unconvincing title. Not bad for the meager price but far from essential for fans of the genre, especially those who desire real scares. Stay tuned for more on Doorways as soon as the remaining 2 chapters ship.
A few more things to know:
• The game is currently only available in English and Spanish.
• The game lacks gamepad supported controls and only allows for limited keyboard remapping. You cannot, for example, reassign the inventory access key and, on top of that, there are bugs which crop up following reassignment when in the menu.