Doorways: Chapters 1-3

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Doorways: Chapters 1-3 Game Poster Image
Dark horror game is more tedious than scary or violent.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Doorways has no positive message unless you stretch to say it's good that the player's job is to stop a known killer. From start to finish, it's dark and disturbing, the direct opposite of optimistic.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Aside from the player character (a man belonging to an organization that apprehends psychotic killers), there isn't much in the way of positive role models. Everyone else in the game is a victim, a maniac, or a monster.

Ease of Play

No tutorial; just a list of key/button assignments within the Options menu. But there's not a lot to it. You move using the usual WASD keys and use the mouse to look around. At times, the first-person viewpoint makes jumping puzzles annoying and chase sequences nausea-inducing.

Violence

Violence is more implied than seen. Some suggestion of disturbing human experiments via flashback, such as mutated amputees with mechanical devices implanted into their bodies with frightening scars. Monsters are seen so quickly that their deformities aren't long on display. The main violence occurs when players allow monsters to catch up to them, but even then, you get hit once, and then you see a black screen.

Sex
Language
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some hint of drugs being used in a hospital setting.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Doorways is a downloadable survival horror game that focuses on entering the twisted, sadistic mind of a psychotic killer. Though it doesn't have much in the way of gore or overt demonstrations of violence, there are flashbacks to medical experiments (including hints of drug use and abuse), and players end up face to face with the horrific, mutated results of those experiments. Failing to get away from these monsters could mean death, but these moments of violence are brief. The majority of the game is spent creeping through murky hallways or abandoned mine shafts looking for clues or methods of escape. The game consists of three chapters that end on a cliffhanger. Players wanting to find out what ultimately happens will have to wait until developer Saibot Studios finishes the game's subsequent chapters.

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What's it about?

A sadistic doctor known for her inhumane medical experiments is on the loose, and it's up to Agent Thomas Foster to stop her. Foster hails from an occult organization that uses a kind of "mind meld" technique to connect with psychos and maniacs. This means that all of DOORWAYS' action takes place within a kind of nightmarish mindscape that includes a shadowy mine shaft, a toxic waste dump, a dilapidated sewer, and a derelict hospital.

Is it any good?

Doorways wants desperately to be like Frictional Games' Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but it never comes close. The graphics might be nice, but who can tell? The lighting's so dim you really can't see much of anything (even if you crank the gamma up on your PC monitor). After starting with a goofy story idea, the writing makes things worse by seesawing back and forth between impressive and awkward; in some cases, the dialogue seems like poor English translation. Worse, long sections of uneventful exploration are only broken up by scares that are so evenly placed you can see them coming a mile away.

The result is one long slog through dark, similarly maze-like environments, an experience that's less frightening and more of a chore. The sound design makes a valiant attempt at adding some tension, and the monsters are adequately creepy, but ultimately, Doorways: Chapters 1-3 is more tedious than terrifying.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about things that go bump in the night, such as the monsters in Doorways. Why have humans from the beginning of history been afraid of the dark? What scares you most, and why? Is it scarier to see our fears face to face or to imagine them?

  • Discuss why it's important for the agent in Doorways to capture the killer. Think about how law enforcement officials keep civilians safe. Ask yourself: What would you do in Agent Foster's place?

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