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An atmospheric, narrative-driven point-and-click puzzle game from the creators of the Cube Escape and Rusty Lake series, The White Door is the first spin-off title set in the Rusty Lake universe. Conveniently and perhaps confusingly, Rusty Lake is the name of the developer, the name of the second series of games they created, and also a prominent setting for many of the games. While the games share a common theme and setting, they are disparate enough that you don’t need to have played any of the previous titles to enjoy The White Door.
The Rusty Lake world is eerie and surreal, to put it mildly. It’s a place where things tend to follow their own peculiar logic. From this stems a large part of its charm. The White Door is more simplistic in style than its predecessors but still creates a general atmosphere of unease. However, it’s not as pervasive as gamers familiar with the series might expect. The game begins with the protagonist Robert Hill waking up to find himself locked in what seems to be a room in an asylum. It’s up to you as the player to ascertain how and why he came to be there. In doing so, you will uncover the sorrowful reason for his troubled mind.
Simple and Pleasant
Besides not quite reaching the level of eeriness typical in Rusty Lake games, The White Door also breaks from the familiar layout of previous titles. This isn’t a bad thing, however. The game instead offers a third-person split-screen view that seems to take at least some inspiration from the delightful 2017 puzzle game Gorogoa. The left side of the screen can be considered the main window of the game. It displays the entirety of Robert’s hospital room and allows you to navigate freely around that space. The right side of the screen dynamically changes depending on what Robert interacts with in the main window. For example, if Robert uses the PC on the table in the left window, a closeup of the computer screen displays in the right window. This elegant navigation method makes for a refreshingly intuitive and uncomplicated mobile UI.
The puzzles in the game are not stumpers by any means. Very few require more than a few seconds to solve. I had no problem with most of them, and I’m not particularly adroit at unraveling puzzles. This could be seen as a weak point in The White Door, and it is unfortunate that the developers didn’t ramp up the difficulty just a tad. At the very least, it would have made the game a bit longer. However, contrary to some puzzle games, the mystery and story are the high points here. The puzzles just provide something entertaining to do while you uncover the tragedy of this moment in Robert’s life. So their lack of complexity only slightly detracts from the game’s overall assessment.
Not Everything’s Perfect
I’d say the real weak point of the game is its brevity. This isn’t anything new. Many of the Rusty Lake games are relatively short. The fact that players might be left wanting more is not necessarily a bad thing. You can breeze through The White Door in an hour or two though, and some people might find that too short for the price tag. However, completing the game that quickly undoubtedly means that you missed some hidden nuggets. So in addition to perhaps feeling ripped off, you might also feel unfulfilled and even confused by the story. To fully understand what’s happened to Robert, you need to uncover the secret ending, which isn’t really so secret. I discovered it completely by accident. But taking an extra 10 minutes to complete this ending really pulls all the pieces together and creates a more memorable experience.
The White Door also offers 14 hidden achievements. And I mean hidden. I honestly don’t know how a person could possibly discover them all without either seeking assistance online or spastically clicking on every portion of every screen as if they’d ingested two gallons of coffee. Some of these achievements simply add a bit of fluff to the game and don’t really have any other point. Others will only make sense to those who have played previous Rusty Lake games because their sole purpose is to cameo prior characters. Only one or two of the achievements actually add to the narrative and very minimally flesh out the story. In other words, taking the time to find all of the achievements is unfortunately not really worth it unless you enjoy that extremely brief moment of excitement when you recognize a recurring character.
As a spinoff title, The White Door breaks somewhat from the established gameplay mechanics of previous games, but still delivers some of the oddness that distinguishes the bizarre universe of Rusty Lake. Although not the best title in the series, it offers an enjoyable albeit brief foray into that unique world.
Is it Hardcore?
The puzzles are a tad too simplistic and the game is a bit short to justify the price tag, but The White Door is a point-and-click puzzle game with a compelling story that is a pleasure to play and recreates some of the unique and eerie atmosphere expected from Rusty Lake titles.