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.
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 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.