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Don’t Open the Doors! Review

The uniqueness and originality of Don't Open the Doors! is a refreshing outlier in the modern day flood of indie games. A claymation, RPG sandbox game, Don't Open the Doors! offers a zany and entertaining experience complete with humor, adventure, and exploration.

Don't Open the Doors! Review

Introduction

Don't Open the Doors! is a claymation, RPG sandbox game developed and published by Anton Riot. In a world that has been overrun by numerous, mysterious doors, it's up to the player to deliver the Mega Bomb to the Main Door and rid the world of the door menace once and for all. Talking bugs, pumpkins, and mushrooms await those who are willing to take up the challenge.

Don't Open the Doors! is available for purchase on Steam for $7.99

Story

Don't Open the Doors! takes place in a world that has been driven into a panic by the sudden appearance of mysterious doors. Wherever a door pops up, the landscape becomes warped and flora and fauna gain the ability to speak. After years of experimentation, scientists have finally completed production of a Mega Bomb that, if used on the Main Door, should destroy all the doors once and for all. The player is tasked with going to the now abandoned city where the Main Door first appeared and detonating the Mega Bomb.

After losing the Mega Bomb early in the game, the player is subsequently tasked with exploring the world and completing various quests with the end goal being the reacquisition of the Mega Bomb and the eventual destruction of the Main Door. 

It's a relatively simple story that isn't deep enough to really pull someone in, but not so shallow that it adds nothing to the game. It's easy to lose track of, or even forget about, the actual story behind the various quests in favor of focusing on the quest itself. That being said, the story is humorous and doesn't take away from the game in any way, regardless of its shortcomings.

Very few of the NPCs have more than a couple lines of dialogue. Most exist merely for the purpose of furthering the progression of the story a small amount and it becomes impossible to interact with them after they've said their piece. The few that the player can speak to more than once are only able to do so for the purpose of selling items to the player. Many of the characters are not even named and some serve no purpose whatsoever.

The dialogue in Don't Open the Doors! can only be described as interesting. Everyone, including and especially the player, is rude and blunt, leading to some very humorous and odd interactions. Many characters will lie and most, again including the player, will be profane. The grammar leaves something to be desired, but overall the dialogue is entertaining in a bizarre sort of way.

Gameplay

The gameplay follows that of your typical sandbox RPG, complete with dungeon crawling, exploration, quests, item purchasing, combat, etc. The controls are simple and easy to learn and use and the game is abundantly helpful when it comes to explaining how different aspects of the gameplay work.

Saving occurs whenever entering or exiting a door, but can be done manually by using a hammer to hit postboxes that are interspersed throughout the overworld.

Don't Open the Doors! Review. Hitting the postbox with your hammer will eject a floppy disk that will save your game if picked up.
Weapons come in three forms: hammers, bombs, and guns. There are several types of each and all three will be used liberally throughout the game. 

Different varieties of hammer can be found throughout the game, some doing more damage than others and some having special properties (for example, the bugsterminator hammer will cause bugs to explode upon impact). Hammers are used to smash objects and enemies alike. It's the easiest weapon to use in combat and it's the only weapon that can destroy most objects. The only two objects that can't be destroyed with a hammer are pumpkins and mushrooms, which require pumpkin bombs and mushroom bombs respectively (although the ability to smash pumpkins with a hammer can be purchased later in the game for a large sum).

There are several types of gun that can be used and the damage they each do seems to be proportional to the ease of acquiring the proper ammo. The popcorn gun does very little damage, but corn is common throughout the game and smashing corn with a hammer will often yield corn kernels which can be used as ammo. Guns are best used against enemies that have long-range attacks.

Don't Open the Doors! Review. Popcorn gun fun.
Bombs are mostly unnecessary in combat except for in specific situations. In any given scenario, a hammer or a gun is almost certainly going to be the better option. 

The player begins the game with a small amount of health which can be increased in various ways over the course of the game. Healing can also occur in several ways. The easiest way to heal is to find a location that has a large pill hovering above the ground and pick up the pill every time it spawns until the health bar is full. If the player wants to be able to heal while on the go then they'll have to collect jars of compote, which can either be purchased, picked up as loot, or made using berries. 

Don't Open the Doors! Review. Compote ain't cheap.
There are a variety of enemies and they can be found both inside the doors and in the overworld. Depending on the enemy, different means are usually necessary to defeat them. For example, bugs are easy to smash with a hammer, but bees are fast and difficult to kill without using a gun. There are several bosses that exist in the game and some require the use of more than one type of weapon to beat them. despite the game not being very large or very long, the variety of ways to interact with everything keeps the world feeling fresh. 

The doors themselves each act as dungeons. Some can be short and some can be long, some can be easy and some can be difficult. It's impossible to tell what it'll be before going in as all doors look the same. Despite the name of the game, the player will want to enter as many doors as possible. And there's no need to worry if you can't beat a door; it's always possible to leave it and come back to it later. However, the caveat is that once a door has been completed, it can never be opened again, so the player should always make sure that they found everything worth picking up before exiting. Various rewards can be found at the end of doors ranging from diamonds (used to improve armor) to longevity slime (used to increase maximum health) to new attack combos. 

Don't Open the Doors! Review. Definitely Open the Doors!
Throughout the game, the player should be entering and completing as many doors as possible in order to increase health, gain new abilities, and pick up more items and coins. However, one should be sure that they're spending their money and using their items wisely. Many objects in the game don't respawn, so being frugal will be an advantage.

The overworld itself is not very large, consisting of seven or eight separate areas with anywhere between three and six doors in each area. The game is surprisingly difficult at times, but shouldn't take more than 6-8 hours to complete. The gameplay is fun and entertaining; its simplicity combined with its ability to scale difficulty with player progression makes for an overall enjoyable experience. 

Graphics and Audio

As enjoyable as the gameplay is, the uniqueness of the graphics might be Don't Open the Doors!' main selling point. The game is made entirely from claymation with over 8,000 photos being used to create the final product. Of course, being original isn't the only thing that makes the graphics acceptable. The entire game is bright and colorful and the scenery is well put together. 

Don't Open the Doors! Review. Enjoyable palette of bright colors.
The soundtrack is nothing special, consisting mostly of repetitive background music. It can liven up at times depending on what's going on in the game and it doesn't get annoying like most similar soundtracks would.

Conclusion

Overall, the story is generic and lacks anything resembling a cast of characters, but the gameplay and graphics more than makeup for other shortcomings. It has exactly what your average person might look for in a game in that it's incredibly simple to learn and doesn't take up a lot of time, but isn't so easy that it won't offer a challenge. It's a fun experience that would make a fine addition to anyone's gaming collection.

This game likely appeals to a younger demographic, perhaps late teens to early twenties, but should be enjoyable for any age. The only reason I hesitate to recommend it for an even younger audience is due to the liberal use of profanity by pretty much everything in the game that has dialogue.

Don't Open the Doors! is a unique experience that I believe is well worth the price of admission.

PROSCONS
+ Unique and captivating graphics– The story leaves a little to be desired
+ Simple and easy to learn gameplay– Lackluster characters and interactions
+ Progress and difficulty are scaled well

6.5
Fair

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