There are good games, there are great games, there are bad games, and there are terrible games. Sometimes, however, there are games like Doorways. That is, a critic's worst nightmare: games that offer a breezy experience that leaves no impression, good or bad, on the player after watching the credits roll and even worse, is difficult to form an opinion on. So, for that reason, I'm going to keep this review short and sweet: while Doorways may not be too offensive to the tastes at first glance, and has some decent moments here and there throughout its playtime, between the manipulative use of the episodic format and a lack of actual content on display, it doesn't warrant a recommendation even to the hardest of hardcore horror fans. This is one Greenlight game that fails to live up to its promises in many unfortunate ways.Doorways is advertised on Steam as being a horror game with a 'complex story' and a 'deep atmosphere'. Vague words, but enough to make any horror fan curious. Unfortunately, to call anything on display here 'deep' or 'complex' would be silly. Doorways can't decide what it wants to be: Amnesia or Dear Esther, with some hints of the recent Montague's Mount thrown in for good measure.
Well, there are some decently fun platforming bits (weird, huh?) and some clever puzzles, but anyone with working hands and a undamaged brain can breeze right through them all with no problem. In fact, that's the general issue with what little content Doorways does offer: the game is so breezy, you'll blow through the whole thing before it can ever even sink its fangs into you properly. There are virtually no scares that ever break up the tedium or jar you out of the daze the game's dull atmosphere puts you in, and you're hardly ever in immediate danger, as most of the game's enemies stand completely still until you run into them. The gameplay is alright, but why pay for Doorways when a game like Amnesia has even better gameplay, much more dynamic horror, and a pretty excellent plot over a much lengthier adventure for the same price?
While I was rooting for this game to hook me, especially thanks to the second act's gleefully dark antagonist, I couldn't help but feel like the game was just sand slipping through my fingers, not ever making much of an impact on me. The puzzles were easy and rather obvious, the platforming worked perfectly well and never required much thought or skill to complete, and the game's scares never really surprised me quite enough to stick in my memory. Worst of all, the game's story barely even exists at all, and for a game that sells itself based on its complex narrative, this is a serious problem. All of this points to Doorways being a game that fails to deliver on its promises, and live up to its many, much more substantial inspirations. Doorways might indeed pull out a final act that makes the entire experience much more worthwhile, but currently, with no ending in sight and virtually zero originality, I don't reserve very much hope and I certainly can't recommend you pay its ten dollar entry fee to try it out and see for yourself. Go play Amnesia instead and hope that the developers change their mind about the game's pricing. Otherwise, mark Doorways under 'wasted potential' and move on.
(Keep in mind, games like Gone Home sometimes charge silly prices for very little content, but at least Gone Home has originality going for it, and for its target audience, it offers a great narrative-focused experience. Doorways offers neither a good story, or good scares, and for that, the price seems outrageous, especially considering the experience is incomplete.)