Hide For Your Life in Doorways: The Underworld (Review)

Like I said in my preview for DarkwoodI don’t handle scary games very well. Even so, I still (try) to play a fair amount of them. Doorways: The Underworld has made me realize that it’s third-person horror that I crave–first-person is too intense.

Within the first 5 minutes of Doorways it gave me a jump scare over something extremely benign; Usually I think jump scares are lazy (and unfair), but this one was executed well. At around the 15 minute mark, another jump scare occurred that got me so bad that my monitor fell off of my desk as I tried to push my chair away from it. It didn’t break, and this is not the game’s fault. I’m just warning you that if you are susceptible to jump scares like I am, this is not the game for you. My heart was racing constantly while I was trying to steel myself for the next pop-up around the corner.

Messages are relayed to the player through wall writing--as opposed to subtitles, which is a nice touch.

Messages are relayed to the player through wall writing–as opposed to subtitles, which is a nice touch.

So outside of jump scares, the basic gameplay of Doorways consists of running around various stereotypical horror locations like mines, dungeons, and laboratories looking for clues. While searching for conveniently placed notes, journals, and keys, you will periodically have to avoid enemies that will kill you in a single hit. This is done by hiding in convenient locations built into the world with no explanation. It’s very standard stuff, and in a post-Amnesia and Outlast world, feels a little contrived.

Doorways: The World is the third chapter in a series, and I haven’t played its predecessors. As best as I can tell, you are a special agent that gets into the minds of serial killers by…letting them into your mind? I’m not exactly sure how or why, and I never found an explanation for how you are actually hurt. Your goal is to track down a mad scientist serial killer who has been running experiments on fellow agents–who is German, of course. It feels very old-hat, and I wasn’t particularly engrossed in the story.

I'm sure this will end well.

I’m sure this will end well.

With a boring plot, uninspired environments, and tedious item searching masked as puzzle solving, Doorways is not a good game on its own. But as a horror title, its chilling atmosphere, grotesque enemies, and excellent soundwork carries it for miles. This game features fantastic voice acting by Sam A. Mowry (who you may recognize from Amnesia: The Dark Descent or as many characters in Dota 2). Strong voice over work goes a long way with me, and it kept me interested far longer than I would have been otherwise. It also features Oculus rift support, which is very noticeable by the amount of head bob that can be nauseating at times.

If you’re looking to be scared and don’t mind a game with no original concepts,  I say give Doorways: The Underworld a shot, you can do much worse.

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