Jesse Stavro's Doorway

There's a fair amount of worldbuilding in this game, almost all of which is contained in a notebook carried by our hero. I suppose you could play through the whole game without once having learnt any of it, but that might leave you wondering at some of the motivations and events of the story. It's nice to be able to skip it all if it's your second play-through, but then your first play-through is going to be weighed down with a bit of info-dumping.

The background is basically that there are doorways between points in space and time, each of them unlockable with a single unique key. Thus, whoever possesses one of these keys, also controls the associated doorway. There are, naturally, multiple factions among those who are aware of the doors and who use it. Meanwhile, your friend Jesse Stavro is apparently on the run, and it's your job to find him.

In spite of this, the tension never ramps up very high. We do meet, early on, an agent of a faction that seeks to destroy every doorway they find; but for some reason our hero never takes steps to deal with her. I suppose we're too anxious to find our friend, and anyway there's always another door somewhere else that we can use, right...? Anyway, after that, we're on the road to a Grateful Dead concert in San Francisco, we're mingling with hippies, and finally we're searching a Chinese restaurant for the door that will take us home.

The game ends rather abruptly when we finally meet up with that Burn The Doors agent again, but I do get the sense that the author aims to write one or more sequels.

So, there's the worldbuilding. There also appear to be multiple solutions to a couple of puzzles, which I do appreciate. There is, unfortunately, a bit of a sense that very little has been implemented beyond the scope of the walkthrough. I'm also a little disappointed that the tension suggested by the background doesn't seem to be played up much. One could go in the other direction and play up the diversion offered by the road trip to San Francisco -- a moment of respite! -- instead, but this isn't done either. Thinking about it, I would probably have preferred the road trip version of the story to the feuding factions version. I know I liked the "mingling with hippies" part best.

I will add that I found the map, particularly of the first region, to be rather inefficient. This first region is a suburban house and its environs; rather more of its environs than strictly necessary. The ground floor of the house is oddly mapped in a way that can only suggest a translation from a real-world building; I suspect that this game started out as an exercise in implementing a house well-known to the author, and the rest of the story, and other locations, were layered on and built on top of it. Nothing wrong with that, but I think that once the author had fleshed out the later bits of his story, he could have gone back and edited the first map a bit.

So I guess what we have here is an organically grown thing. If, as I suspect, the story was thrown together well after the game was actually begun, then I congratulate the author on his storytelling. But he needs to look back and pick up the loose ends still trailing behind him. He needs to broaden and deepen his implementation -- he cannot simply keep building upwards, he needs to strengthen what he already has. And where he does build upwards, he needs to make up his mind as to what he wants the emerging story to be.

It's a very runny Spanish omelette, with toast soldiers and orange juice. And if the omelette doesn't work out, we can always call it scrambled eggs.