There are only Seven Doors. One does not simply walk into more doors.
Escape rooms! They’re a thing, aren’t they? They’re pretty fun too, having done a few in my time. Video games have started getting in on the action too recently, by replicating them in digital form. Escape Academy from last year was one I particularly enjoyed, even if it was wrapped up in the silliest narrative, and The Room along with its sequels certainly fit the bill to my mind. Seven Doors definitely has the trapping of a series of escape rooms, but it certainly does its best to sap the fun of them in places.
You play as a person who has been tasked with completing the challenges ensconced within seven rooms. And that’s all the plot you’re getting. I wasn’t going into this one expecting a world shattering innovation in video game storytelling, but at least some reason for being here might have been nice. Regardless, you head through the first door and into the first challenge.
Now, I don’t want to spoil too much here, as some of the puzzles ahead of you are quite interesting. The first one certainly isn’t one of them, but it does teach you that the way to progress is to find a skull and place it in the receptacle next to the exit door to progress. The rooms are split into puzzle rooms and survival rooms. Many of the puzzle rooms are quite engaging challenges, especially in the second part of the game, with you needing to actually think your way through them and be willing to fail and try again without there being too much direction. The survival rooms are dreadful and have you avoiding touching instant death objects with some incredibly questionable hit detection. There are only a few of the latter, but I really couldn’t stand them.
The puzzles though, were interesting. Ranging from riddles, to finding hidden objects, to solving logic problems, there was a fair bit to like here, and once you get through the initial seven rooms and reach a few additional puzzles, you’ll find yourself needing to explore these small environments with care to find all the items you need to progress. I enjoyed these and wouldn’t have minded having a couple more of these in place of those maddening insta-death rooms.
What I was less a fan of was the utterly maddening physics. Some puzzles will require you to find and place items in certain areas of the room, but the physics engine often has plans of its own, including launching the item you’re carrying across the room, or teleporting you onto a mannequin’s head. It’s funny, yes, but also infuriating when the piece of equipment you needed to progress ends up in some near unreachable place, necessitating you manufacturing a way to reach it or restarting the room altogether.
A restart doesn’t set you back too far though, thanks in part to the very short duration of Seven Doors. Depending on how quickly you can figure things out, you can get through this in around ninety minutes, and the solution in each room doesn’t change if you go back to it. This means that if you want to go back and see if you can find something you’ve missed, it’s not going to take you solving everything with fresh clues. Then again, once you’ve finished this, the lack of different puzzles means you probably won’t want to go back through again anyway. There are two endings of sorts if you really want to see them both, but the lack of story makes each of them equally meaningless.
The visuals are a bit all over the place, with some rooms looking really interesting with lots of detail, whilst others have really flat textures and dull features. The lighting was a pain in rooms where I needed to find objects amongst the clutter, and I ended up increasing the brightness a significant amount just to be able to see what was in the room. Bizarrely, there’s a performance/quality option in the menu, and I couldn’t for the life of me work out what in the quality mode could possibly reduce the framerate, but I suppose it’s nice to have. The music was nice and atmospheric, but the sound effects were quite weak. The small amount of voice acting was quite nice though.
Whilst there were elements of Seven Doors that I liked, I couldn’t help but feel that the developers had come up with a few interesting puzzle ideas and then stitched them together in a game without any thought on coherence. I liked the puzzles that were there, but I think I’d have liked them in any game, and probably more if there was a reason to be doing them. At the below £5 price point, it’s a reasonable offering, but I don’t think I’d be leaping at the chance to recommend this to people unless they were desperate for an escape room video game and had exhausted all the alternatives.
Seven Doors is available now on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.