Itchy Byte #5: A Door is a Window

    A Door is a Window is a short walking-sim with interesting visuals, haunting sound design, and a story that continues to give you questions that are not answered throughout the whole game. I am going to be completely honest, I don’t fully understand A Door is a Window, but there is enough that I do understand that makes it great, and important.

    You begin A Door is a Window in a room that is completely aqua blue, with the sounds of a crowded room repeating while you stand here. The audio is not in English, so I was not sure if I was missing out on the story, but I do not believe the dialogue has any significant impact on the messaging of the game. After you appear in the room, the title of the game appears on a wall with a door under it, but the door only loads if you look away and then look at the title again. This mechanic has many uses in other parts of the game, but this part just seemed unnecessary. When you walk through the door, the sounds die down, the audio becomes a mix of uncomfortable sounds, and you enter rooms where words appear in large white letters tell the story of your thoughts attacking your mental health.

    “YOU ALWAYS LEAVE TOO SOON, AND I ALWAYS LOOK TOO FAR.” This is the first message in the game, and it is never defined who the writer of these messages is, or what exactly you are leaving behind. The vagueness of the messaging as a whole hinders its ability to affect my emotions, because the questions I have are never answered.

    It could be about leaving a relationship, or being unable to handle stress, or most likely dealing with a mental illness. Either way, there was not enough in the game to fully make an emotional connection with me. Some of the dialogue did impact me occasionally, though. Repetitive statements got my heart rate raised, the sound design caused me to be in a panicked state, and the narrowing of rooms made me feel lonely and scared. The parts where I was desperately trying to get out of the situation I was in, only to realize that the door behind me was closed for good, made the experience great for me. This game may not have had enough story to keep me interested, but the gameplay constantly toyed with my emotions and amazed me from beginning to end.

    The aesthetic of A Door is a Window also made the experience pleasant. I love it when developers use color to experiment with the psychological effects that each color has, and this game definitely does that. The color of rooms change as you walk through them, and when the messaging gets repetitive, the room turns darker and it heightens the sense of sadness as you walk through the narrow paths. Other colors only affected me in very minuscule ways, like giving courage to some words and sternness to others. The final act of the game has a very bright and beautiful color with a very simplistic but meaningful layout that made the end feel like an ascension to Heaven.

    Although the message behind the game failed to reach me, the sound design and art kept me hooked throughout this short experience. I believe I have some idea as to what A Door is a Window is attempting to convey, and I believe other players may find a relatable meaning behind it, but it poses to many questions as to who you are and what you are dealing with, and does not give enough answers. I believe there are valuable lesson that can be found in the game that will help developers know how to create audio to emotionally impact players and how simplistic designs with a little twist can create amazing moments. A Door is a Window hides its important message by enshrouding it in neat design choices and non-stop gameplay that does not allow for intricate storytelling, and I am pretty sure it worked in the long-run. After completing it, I am still thinking about its possible themes and its inspiring design.