100 Doors Horror (Android) review
"Don't bother knocking"
I rarely search for free-to-play mobile games these days. During my rare visits to Play Store, I run across hordes of way under-the-radar titles that resemble others almost to a pixel--and some of the inspirations of these products are relatively obscure themselves. It seems if a developer experiences even moderate success, someone else is going to blatantly rip off their idea while trying to put a slightly new twist on it. Case in point, 100 Doors...
This app is a simplified escape room game, where each level presents you with a locked door surrounded by items. You need to interact with your environment and solve puzzles to get through each barrier, which you accomplish by tapping on just about any part of your screen. Unsurprisingly, other developers have offered their own knockoffs of ZenFox's semi-hit, with titles like 100 Doors to Paradise, 100 Floors and 100 Doors Journey. And out of all of those, only one stood out for a scary game fan like myself: 100 Doors Horror.
Yeah, that's the definition of an underwhelming ripoff, isn't it? Take the original game's moniker and slap a genre at the end. I can't wait for 100 Doors Crime Drama or 100 Doors YA Dystopian Sci-Fi.
With this particular game, you engage in the previously described mechanics while "scary" things happen. Your character moseys about an old mansion, selecting rooms and hallways to investigate, each one barred by a locked door. The first few stages are understandably easy, featuring such banal challenges as taking a key out of a file cabinet or opening a password-locked door using a code off an ordinary piece of paper found lying on the floor.
Before long, though, the game tries to ramp things up a bit and frighten you. For instance, you open a door and a child with a mouthful of tentacles pops up on your screen in an attempt to make you jump. He then goes away and does nothing to you. Later, you see a portrait of what appears to be a possessed baby doll. You move it downward and a skull appears on the screen. It then goes away and does nothing to you. A chubby demon also roams the grounds. It screams in your face, then goes way and does nothing to you. Yeah, that's pretty much the depth of this game's horror elements...
Look, I didn't expect this app to be scary at all, but it didn't even live up to my incredibly low expectations. This game's idea of horror is to flash the same creepy images at you repeatedly, as if doing that isn't going to get old in a few minutes. Worse, this clone's attempts at horror are not only flaccid, but at times flat out annoying. For instance, one creature sometimes pops up and belts out an obnoxious scream that sounds like someone stepped on a cat's tail after it huffed helium. I know that mobile games mostly go for cheap, simple thrills and mechanics, but this is the kind of junk that YouTube has been doing for ages, and has even surpassed by this point.
Don't laugh. Tara the Android is absolute nightmare fuel, I'm telling you.
Without solid scares, you're left with one hundred challenges that barely stimulate your mind. For the most part, you succeed through experimentation. Just tap everything on the screen and you'll eventually win. Thankfully, you sometimes need to use logic to open a door, such as one room with three nooses and bricks on the floor. The bricks are all different weights, and you need to figure out which ones to put in which nooses. This level makes use of the "restart level" option, forcing you to think outside of the "just tap everything" box.
Unfortunately, you encounter a lot of the same, bland puzzles. For instance, numerous rooms offer messages scrawled on walls with simple directions to follow, which eventually lead to notes spawning on the floor that blatantly tell you how to finish the puzzle. Plenty of other segments hit you with Pipe Dream-inspired mini-games that barely step up in regards to difficulty. Each of them is fairly simple, like the first five levels of the aforementioned pipe puzzler. Despite attempts to add variety, the experience remains repetitive and tedious, as if the developer struggled to find one hundred different tasks for you to complete and was forced to rehash a lot of concepts.
Worse, some stages include erroneous hints that prevent you from completing them. Thankfully, you can skip rooms by watching a video, but you shouldn't have to do that. One of them presents you with a 3X3 grid, the numbers 1-9 and mathematical symbols. It seems like you need to rearrange the numbers so that the equations presented on the grid are correct. However, if you input the correct equations, nothing happens. As it turns out, the developer updated this level at some point, but didn't alter the solution to suit the change. Instead of mathematical symbols, it was supposed to include arrows, and you were supposed to arrange the numbers in their correct order while following the path laid out by the arrows.
Another level dishes out a digits for a password, but gives them in the wrong order. During my playthrough, I ended up watching more ads to gain hints, with the last hint giving me the code--and big surprise, it was different from the code you receive if you follow the game's instructions.
The previously discussed content isn't even the worst of it. Hell, some levels feature sliding tile puzzles, and as much as I despise those, I'll even say they aren't even the biggest offenders here. Now and then, you bump into a level with a lock on it, plus an entry fee. You need to pay a certain number of golden teeth (which you earn by completing stages), and then wait for an allotted length of time. The first of these locked rooms makes you stall thirty minutes before it unlocks, but you can waive this down time by watching a video ad.
The trouble is later levels increase the wait time significantly until you're up over five hours just to play a level. As before, you can watch an advertisement, but each commercial only shaves off thirty minutes. So in order to enter the late-game locked doors, you need to torture yourself with close to a dozen ads. Because nothing says "horror" like sitting through scores of plugs for bad mobile games.
Although 100 Doors Horror is free and you can complete it in an afternoon, it's still not worth your time. With bugged stages, infrequent entertainment value, repetitive tasks, absolutely lacking scares and an egregious emphasis on forcing players to watch ads, you're better off perusing your mobile market for a premium paid fright fest with actual productions values. Your wallet may not enjoy that search much, but your heart and brain cells will thank you.
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (October 10, 2020)
Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.
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