Doorways - First Person Survival Horror [Preview]

Doorways is an upcoming first person horror title by Argentine indie developers Saibot Studios. We reported the news about this release back in December here and we have finally gotten our hands on its final internal beta release before its imminent launch in Q2 of this year. Doorways promises survival horror and a psychological compelling narrative with enigmatic puzzles that will scare and challenge you. The question is, do the doorways open for you, or do they slam in your face?

Doorways is intended to be released in an episodic format so don’t expect to achieve closure in this first initial outing. Which is unlikely as you’ll most likely put aside a rather confusing and wonky storyline in its current state. Voice actor Sam A. Mowry (Alexander of Amnesia: The Dark Descent) lends his voice as a hunter (not you) of a deranged psychopathic killer who slowly succumbs to the horrors of the world that this sadistic villain inhabits... or has created; the game is a bit uncertain with minor details like this.  

You piece the narrative together by collecting scripts conveniently placed along your linear path. Now you are on the same trial and piecing your predecessor's journey together, with the expectancy to be horrified by what you dare read on what lies ahead... or so the theory goes. Mowry puts out an okay performance in delivering a quite badly written (or translated) script, that it  just doesn't feel effective in adding to any sort of atmosphere. Rather than listen to the terror of another individual experiencing a similar terrible fate, the writing left me feeling confused more than anything. I have taken a sample to illustrate some of the disorderly writing you are likely to encounter.

Must try harder C-

Gameplay wise expect a familiar style of first person puzzle solving. There are interesting platforming elements in the style of half-life and portal in navigating the obstacles of the game. However, these sections are in short supply and the horror is never able to manifest itself out of its initial and repeated shock tactics: if you fail a first time, then expect similar results to happen again, turning perhaps genuine scary moments into familiar routine. The title lacks any sort of combat and your objective is to progress through the game via movement and evasion of enemies and puzzles.

The puzzles are adequate, but again familiar. There’s nothing here you will not have seen or done before. Collect items, navigate puzzle traps and search for hard to find requirements.  There doesn't seem to be any correlation between these puzzles and the narrative, which confuses the game and player somewhat, and doesn't terribly add to the atmosphere of a genre whereby this is crucial. I was only able to find two, easy to find collectables and wasn't sure what to do with them. Perhaps they can be used in later episodes or you can unlock extra cutscenes with them, they did not add much to the current release I found.

Objectives aren't exactly subtle...

The graphics and sound are fairly ordinary, if not bland and altogether outdated. There is a surprising lack of detail and anybody who has memories of randomly generated Elder Scrolls dungeons will feel a certain sense of recognizable environments. The game is also dark. Very dark, and puts the player in mind of titles of old, such as the original Silent Hill, whereby fog would shroud everything in order to mask the technical capabilities of the system. Doorways works in a similar way, but tries to create an atmosphere that isn't really there. By mentioning some of the aspects of the game that might induce scary moments, I feel like I would be spoiling any prospect of fright for the player, such is the short supply here. Exploring every inch of this game reveals a surprising lack of scary things and as such, the player's imagination is doing most of the work rather than the game creating a horrifying experience you will enjoy and remember.

'Scariness' often comes in the form of low-res textures and a lack of environment detail.

There is no music as such, rather appropriate sounds, which complement the atmosphere. Dramatic Japanese style horror noises rush upon you as you are in danger, but these are somewhat lacking in other parts of the game. The noises your main character generates can sound repetitive as you repeatedly jump and instigate his grunt which becomes annoying.

I have played through this ‘late stage of development’ title and it feels lacking. While not altogether a disaster, there is certainly room for dramatic improvement. While there are sure to be startling and frightening moments for players, it feels altogether static, in a house of horrors sort of way. Once the initial scare is gone, you more or less are able to stop the cart and stare blankly at an inanimate object and notice the timed-release spring behind it. Having perhaps a dynamic element to this game would have made it very unique indeed. Perhaps a talking accomplice, whom you had to make dynamic decisions with would liven things up a bit, such as decisions to help, abandon or betray (falling into madness or resisting whatever evil you’re supposed to think is going on). But perhaps I’m being the storyteller/developer here, but this is the sort of creativity I’d like to see out of a title in this day and age that makes promises about being a newly 'dynamic and fresh' horror title.

Doorways is currently trying to get Greenlit on Steam. Go support it and keep an eye out if you think this’ll be your kind of game.


A Beta client was provided by Saibot Studios for the purpose of this preview. This is not the final release version. No technical issues of Doorways were encountered during this preview.

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