Calvin Weibel

Doors

Doors

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On its own, logic is cold and unfeeling. That’s why logic games, like those found in novelty puzzle magazines, tend to rely on elaborate and colorful stories, lest they end up resembling the workmanlike content of the LSAT’s dreaded reasoning section. In Doors, one-man developer Calvin Weibel attempts to liven things up by wrapping his puzzles around a quest for bacon, which he asserts is a universally wonderful and desirable thing. Sadly, it’s an obvious attempt to distract players from the game’s lack of content. Doors never develops into anything more than a repetitious series of quizzes, in which players must correctly choose the one door (out of a series of various shapes and colors) that will teleport them closer to bacon.

Whereas The Witness consistently elaborates on and refines its mechanics, Doors never rises above the simple and easily brute-forceable act of assessing, based on the plaques above each door, which ones are true and false, and which one thereby leads to bacon. Weibel’s self-professed decision to emulate the black-and-white style of Limbo is even more questionable, as it calls attention to the dulling scope of the gameplay. There are extremely linear paths through threadbare forests, deserts, and caves, and they do nothing to enhance or improve the setting.

At best, Doors is a game about the illusion of choice, and Weibel’s is the only one that matters.

The game’s “story” offers a slight counter-argument, in that these bacon doors are part of a supposedly broken simulation, but because Doors relegates that thread to nothing more than a dismissable detour, it’s a feeble justification. Weibel’s liberal sampling of a metanarrative that appears to have been lifted from The Stanley Parable makes the game even more disappointing in retrospect. Despite cryptic hints to the contrary (including a post-credits stinger) that suggest there’s a deeper, darker secret to be found within Doors, the game never goes full-on Pony Island to become a game about itself. Little things, like the typo’d “exacltly” in one puzzle, or the facility’s weird tonal imbalance between absurd signage and creepily splattered fluids, support the sinking suspicion that Weibel has unthinkingly cobbled his game together from other sources.

At best, Doors is about the illusion of choice, and Weibel’s is the only one that matters. Under that interpretation, the contrast between the final two puzzles—a 30-door brainbuster and a two-door subjective call about bacon in which, somehow, only one of the doors turns out to be correct—is at least defensible, albeit disappointing. At worst, Doors is the sort of light, 30-minute experience that will send purchasers flocking to Steam to try and get a refund. After all, that’s the only logical response after playing a game this shallow.

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Game
Release Date
February 12, 2016
Platform
PC
Developer
Calvin Weibel
Publisher
Calvin Weibel