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A House of Many Doors
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Discuss A House of Many Doors, the exploration RPG.
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Posted by2 years ago

I know terms like 'underrated' or 'underexposed' get bandied about quite freely around these parts, but I - most likely lacking all self awareness - insist that in this case they are valid.

A House of Many Doors is a narrative RPG released in 2017, developed by Pixel Trickery. It was almost entirely written and coded by one person, Harry Tuffs, with others hired for art and music. I say this as it should be made clear to anyone considering buying this game: it was almost completely the work of one guy! That means the game suffers in all the usual ways small projects do; repetitive art, music, and random encounters; bugs are not uncommon (although never severe); between major locations the world is quite boring.

I know this is, so far, an awful recommendation. So let me be clear: A House of Many Doors is one of the best narrative RPGs that I've played in a while.

You are an explorer of the titular House - a 'parasite dimension' that steals people, places, cities, and deities from other worlds, trapping them within the House forever. Effectively, the House is an excuse for the writer to include every off-the-wall idea they had without them feeling out of place - and they had a lot of ideas. As you explore the House in your kinetopede (a train on millipede legs), you will uncover wonders: a flaming god corpse whose smoke is harvested as a drug; a mountain mined for the human organs it contains; a sentient oil rig; a cathedral on tank tracks run by pirate-priests. You will become a poet, a journalist, a museum curator, a spy, a revolutionary. You will be able to recruit dozens of companions to your crew, each a fully developed character with their own Mass Effect style loyalty missions.

I mentioned Sunless Sea and Skies in the title as they are the closest comparison to this game - the developer has explicitly said so (and was one of the writers for Sunless Skies). AHOMD will definitely feel familiar to people who have played those games. The perspective, traversal between locations, management of fuel and sanity are all clearly direct inspirations. There are differences, most notably AHOMD has no roguelike elements and a traditional save system, making it much less punishing. If you disliked those games for their difficulty, this might be a better fit.

I finished the game in about 50 hours, but it can be done in much less (or more!) The main quest isn't very long if you focus on it, meaning you essentially play side quests for as long as you want, then finish when you reach the end of your patience. And you will reach the end of your patience. Travel becomes dull when you stop discovering new places. Combat, while not bad (it's like a turn-based FTL), is not good either. While most quests are very well written, there were a few too many that gated progress behind obtaining items, which sometimes felt a bit fetch-questy. I would recommend reaching the ending though, it's very good.

Almost no one seems to know about this game, which I think is a shame as it does a lot of good and smart things - romance is handled better than most other RPGs of this type, for example. If you can get over how 'indie' the game appears on the surface, fans of narrative games will find plenty to enjoy.

I love learning about overlooked indie games. They're often more ambitious and interesting with narrative than any big budget release, even when they don't succeed at everything. Does anyone else have any smaller games they want to share?

TLDR: well-written rpg with gameplay and technical issues. Recommended if you can endure a little tedium for big rewards.

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Posted by6 years ago
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Posted by7 years ago
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