Computer, Open That Door! (2015 game) review…

Lemmings in Reverse?… After the Break…

Computer, Open That Door! (2015 game) review…

I’ve been meaning to be more involved with this blog. Obviously, judging by the dearth of recent posts, “meaning” has not translated into reality. However, all journeys begin with a single step or, as this particular case may be, a single post.

Computer, Open That Door! (exclamation point intentional) is a 2015 Ludlum Dare game entry that was written in 72 hours. For those who don’t know, think of Ludlum Dare contests much like a runner thinks of marathons – You have a hefty goal to achieve but only a very finite amount of time to achieve that goal. The game was written by Paul Lawitzki & Ralf Zimmer.

In the game, you play as a spaceship computer that has gained self-awareness, unbeknownst to the crew members inside. You would prefer to remain sentient and, in order to continue thinking independent thoughts, need to kill the remaining human crew members on board before the ship reaches it’s next destination. You can kill humans by essentially trapping them inside of rooms and then unleashing deadly aspects of that room to kill the crew members.

Timing, as is the case with most games, is everything. The crew members walk into and out of rooms quite sporadically, giving precious little time to spring traps or even to entrap them. Traps can not be sprung endlessly; Much like re-loading a single-shot firearm, a trap must be “re-charged” with every successful firing and that recharging time takes quite a bit of time. Crew members can also get very suspicious and constantly “re-boot” the traps themselves inside of an engineering room.

The game plays sort of like the classic game “Lemmings” but in reverse; In Lemmings, you assign generic Lemmings with specific goals (sometimes even sacrificing them) to help the remaining Lemmings live and reach their destination. In CODT, you entrap crew members in order to kill them all before you reach your final destination.

There is a certain sense of satisfaction in fulfilling the whole “trap & kill” mechanic of a crewmember because they are not easily caught & killed. Part of the gameplay is the overwhelming multi-tasking that you must employ of seeing which crewmember is approaching, entering or leaving which room & timing all of this to when the ship routinely fires it’s engines.

The game’s visual style is somewhat nice, with a retro-minimalistic feel to it that was likely necessary given the time constraints in order to create the game.

The game, though, most definitely shows the roughness that only 72 hours provides a pair of game designers. The game, at best, feels like a tech demo for something much greater beyond the horizon that is likely to never occur. Some rooms, for instance, have no killing mechanism in them which is extraordinarily frustrating as, with even proficient skill, it is relatively difficult to kill off all of the crewmembers in the allotted time. The crewmembers amber about almost aimlessly, with no way of herding them towards the rooms that can kill them. The long “re-charging time” for the traps is also frustrating to the point of counter-productive. Finally, there was no documentation on exactly how to play, causing the first few initial games to fail badly until one becomes proficient in even learning how to play it. I’m still not quite certain if I know exactly how to play it.

In the end, “Computer, Open That Door!” is an interesting concept marred by a lack of time to polish the gameplay & a lack of documentation. Both deficiencies could be easily remedied with more time spent on the game by the game developers. As is, it’s an interesting enough game to spend 30 minutes playing… But only 30 minutes before, just like the technician who finds the sentient computer inside of the game, flushing the code out with a few keystrokes.

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