The Door review (PSVR)

SKonec, known mostly for the excellent VR shooter Mortal Blitz, has just released The Door, an escape room that is playable both with and without a VR headset. Naturally, we tested it using a Playstation VR headset for this review.

A mix of a classic escape room and a supernatural horror/thriller story, The Door puts you in the shoes of DJ Jacob, and literally traps you inside a small bedroom at the start of the game as you’re looking for your daughter Amy. You’ll find a few items, uncover what seem to be clues, and run into locks that need unknown combinations to open. Before too long, you start figuring out which clues relate to which lock or puzzle, for example when a significant date appears to open up a lock on a cupboard.

Once you free yourself from the room, you move into a laboratory of sorts, but you’re unable to use the elevator in the room to go down. Another escape room situation unfolds, and the game makes clever use of the fact that you can go back to the previous room as well. To not make matters too confusing, it disables elements in the room that you no longer need or don’t need at the moment – and it does the same with travel locations inside each room. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword because it feels a little counter-intuitive when an object suddenly becomes ‘active’ when you couldn’t grab it before, but at the same time it’s a system that provides focus and direction in a game that needs it on account of its tricky puzzles.

the door

You see, The Door isn’t exactly easy, nor does it provide a lot (or any) hints once you get stuck. The best example of this is the door puzzle at the end of the first chapter (the initial bedroom). It’s a door that needs a four digit code to unlock, and I was stumped for half an hour trying to figure out how to get a combination that made sense. In the end it was a combination of two different clues that did it (a mechanic that The Door uses regularly), but it was such a seemingly random solution that I could see a lot of players resulting to random guesswork and ultimately ending up frustrated. An in-game hint system would have been helpful here, even if it was something that only triggers after 10 or 15 minutes without progress.

When I was thinking about it, I realized that there really aren’t too many escape room games on Playstation VR so far. There’s a few that touch upon the same mechanics (like Statik and Esper), but the classic escape room escape hasn’t been done that much. Dying: Reborn and Weeping Doll come to mind, but even there you have enough freedom to move around that you don’t feel too “trapped” most of the time.

the door3

The Door nails that feeling very well – even though it sometimes does it frustratingly so. It has high quality visuals and a creepy/tense atmosphere as well, as you slowly discover the story behind Jacob, his family and his sinister assistant. The game also resorts to a few jump scares every now and then, which of course work best in VR.

Besides the potential for frustration (without an in-game hint system, it’s easy to get completely stuck), my biggest issue with the game is its price point. It’s not an extremely long game if the puzzles don’t stump you, yet it’s priced as the “higher end of mid-range” title when a 20 euro/dollar price point seems more appropriate than 35. The 20 spot is where Mortal Blitz also sits and it’s perfect for the amount of content in that game, so I was surprised when I learned about The Door’s store price.

Although easily the best classic escape room experience you can currently get on Playstation VR, The Door is held back by difficulty spikes that will see gamers flock to walkthroughs or give up and a high price point. That price point will eventually be fixed through a price drop or sale, and if you enjoy a challenging and creepy escape room, then you’ll certainly enjoy The Door. If the developers had added a subtle hint system, the score below would have been 0.5 to 1.0 higher as well.

Score: 6.9/10

2 thoughts on “The Door review (PSVR)”

  1. I am so sorry that the only review I read for this game was this one. I ended up buying it based on this.
    I was really thrown off by your rating and saying that you would have given it a higher score if there was a hint system. I personally never want a hint system and thought that this would be a good puzzle game. Especially since you said you thought people would be flocking to walkthrus to get the solutions (translation – the puzzles are hard)
    I do agree on the price issue for sure.
    There are many things that should have been included in this review:
    1. Horrible locomotion system – The types of locomotion in VR games varies for sure, but this is by far the least appealing I have ever seen. Movement is only thru teleportation, which doesn’t even appear until you get out of the first room. I was really concerned that the whole game was going to be standing in the middle of different rooms and spinning around and being able to reach everything in the room (so much for trying to simulate reality there). Even turning around uses the lamest version which is each click is a cut to the new view with no transition (think worse than the original MYST – which of course was acceptable back then due to limitations). Then when you do get the opportunity to teleport, you get a very short smooth movement moment toward your destination, but then the screen blacks out and you are at your destination. Also, many teleportation locations have desks and tables between them and there is no attempt to make it at least seem like you are not walking right thru the furniture. Once again “reality” is the goal.
    2. No use of controller location – Unlike most VR games, this one does not even track the controller so that you can at least have some feeling of your hands being involved in operating things (reaching, etc.)
    3. Spoon fed experience – This is the worst thing about this game. Things are usually only available when you need them. Inventory combinations are so obvious that they are boring and if you are not bored enough, inventory items have descriptions like “this item can be used to do this” – OH OK, why don’t you just play the game for me?
    4. The puzzles are horribly easy (or bad). Now this is all certainly a matter of opinion, but one way to help is to compare to something else. For instance, compare the puzzles to games like Obduction or The Witness. If you were to do that, you would have to say this game is maybe 1/10th as challenging. And that’s OK for a lot of people, but I would have known to steer clear. Just a note, Obduction was $30 when I bought it and it is $15 now, and it is VR. The Witness was $40 when I bought it. It is not VR. I am saying this since I paid $35 for The Door, I think I can compare it to other games that are around the same price and take the puzzle solving experience way beyond anything in this game.
    The puzzle you mention in the first room is not actually easy, but that is because it is very bad. Solving hard puzzles should be accompanied by saying “OH, of course that’s it”, or “Wow, that is really amazing”, NOT “OK, I am going to try this, but could that really be the answer?” which is exactly what I said to myself when I was solving the one you referred to.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Since the original reviewer was in today, we discussed them right away and see your points. We did touch on the control method when mentioning travel locations, but didn’t specify that free locomotion wasn’t included. While we generally enjoy that control method best, it would have made The Door a worse game because of some of its other design decisions – like the spoon fed experience. It would have made seemingly random puzzles more frustrating to figure out as a result, laying the so-so puzzle design bare.

      The Door should be enjoyed as an escape room game with neat visuals and atmosphere, but it’s not one of the better VR puzzle games. Statik’s got you covered there, or Esper. I Expect You To Die is a great escape room type game as well – and it includes the motion controller (hands) support you mention. As for The Door – our advice to carefully consider the price point still stands. It’s a shame it hasn’t been on sale yet or you could’ve picked it up for a lot less than its overpriced tag at release.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s