PEGBRJE: The White Door and Vignettes
The White Door is a point and click puzzle adventure by Rusty Lake and co-published with Second Maze. You take the role as Robert Hill, a man who wakes up in a bland and simple room. You must perform specific tasks to move time forward so that a person will enter the room and do your ‘check up’, which is a series of memory puzzles revolving around objects and information within the room. You are free to go and find said information at any time, so don’t worry about actually needing to remember. As the game progresses, however, the puzzles become more surreal and mystifying as Robert attempts to piece together what happened in his life in the past that he cannot remember.
This game is bleak in the best way possible. It only took me a few minutes while within the first day of puzzles to realize that there was more than just one sinister and dark undertone of possibility within this game. The routine that is followed to give the sense of normalcy masks the reality that Robert Hill has not only lost his memories, but that the institution he’s in may not be as helpful to his own sanity. So many unanswered questions pile up for Robert that the only answers he gets are during his dreams, which serves to recount information for the player to give context. Like any good mystery, every piece of information given immediately asks another question and drives forward the sense of unease as questions asked of Robert get more and more specific and narrow while Robert continues his routine. Until he doesn’t; and that’s when things get weird.
Unfortunately for The White Door, it is a puzzle game — and that means I’m bad at it. Thankfully many of the puzzles were revolved around memory and simple logic, so I was able to get through most of the game without having to bang my head against a wall to figure them out, save a few (we’ll get to that). The interactions and puzzles serve more as a vehicle for the plot than as the core gameplay itself, with every solution either uncovering secrets or leading towards the discovery of secrets. There’s a charm in having to manually interact with objects to perform narrative tasks, such as brushing Robert’s teeth or clicking on food to feed him. The drawback, of course, being that some narrative elements stall slightly as the curtain wasn’t drawn back far enough, so you are left thinking you might’ve done something wrong. Overlooking this, however, gives an interactive narrative wanting you to uncover Robert’s life while attempting to understand the sinister environment you may have found yourself in.
There are a few hiccups here and there, mostly focused on the secretive nature of the game as a whole. It doesn’t want to just hand the plot out, Robert must find it and understand it — so the endings true nature are delved more deeply in the ‘epilogue’ days, chapters that require achievements to unlock, or to finish the game first. The worst part is that I might’ve actually missed the answers within the base 7 days that Robert has in the institution, but I found myself so riddled attempting to solve the puzzles and the plot that it might’ve been overlooked. Thankfully The White Door does allow for returning to specific days and going through the levels again once completed to get the full understanding. Games that play on a player’s perception of memory will twist and turn, so I’m glad they added this feature so I could figure the plot out better.
The White Door is a mystery game in a puzzle game in a point and click. There are layers to its story that it uses the best it can, telling the story of a man broken by something and attempting to collect the pieces for an institution weirdly obsessed with his past. The epilogues do assist, but continue with the same style of story telling in order to not break the immersion. If you are looking for a short-ish narrative puzzle game to add some colour (or lack thereof) in your life, I’d recommend the White Door. It’s got the mystery, the emotion and the interactivity to keep you guessing on where it wishes to go next, and the epilogues to seal the deal on just how much your memory has been keeping track.
Vignettes is a puzzle game of sorts by Skeleton Business, and follow the adventure of… well, you. There is no adventure in Vignettes really, unless one considers the evolution of a kaleidoscope to be an adventure. Vignettes opens with a colourful array of keys, a chest, and a telephone. From there, the world becomes a game of perspective as you attempt to fill out the frames that contain the keys to unlock the chest completely. Filling the objects within the frames requires you to shift and rotate the object given until it’s perspective aligns with another object that it is attached to. This continues until the end of the game by discovering every object and acquiring all of the keys.
Describing games that solely rely on perspective mechanics is challenging — it is inherently visual by design, where players are attempting to shift their own visual space to align with another to continue forwards. Vignettes does a great job at keeping the entire premise simple, as the only thing the game asks of players is to find the perspectives of all of the objects to fill out a themed picture frame. There is a screen that players are introduced to relatively quickly that outlines the paths and number of items the current one can be ‘perspectively morphed’ into. Not every item can become another, so making sure that you don’t accidentally get yourself stuck in a dead end item path is crucial to completing the game.
Vignettes simplistic take on perspective also bleeds over into the aesthetic, which is best described as cute and clean. Colours are stark and vibrant, with little to no attempt at realistic shading techniques at all. It was designed for all ages, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they had children in mind — it’s just so appealing to kids with how many colours and ‘A ha!’ moments that one can stumble into by accident. The music also is bubbly and upbeat, and changes depending on the ‘frame’ that you are in, or collection of objects that you have just transferred to. Funny enough, I found this to be a fantastic indicator that I had spilled into another frame when I hadn’t finished the previous one, since I didn’t want to bring up that map every time I succeeded at discovering a new item.
Similar to The White Door, Vignettes is a mind bender puzzle-lite game that is quite short. Apparently Vignettes can also be played on mobile, which was a fantastic decision choice: I spent nearly an hour just rotating an item around for fun seeing how many perspectives I would accidentally find, just imagine how many I could find if I was stuck somewhere with only my phone. It’s controls are also extremely simple, allowing for that mobile accessibility as well.
Vignettes is simple, short and sweet. It doesn’t claim to be profound or deep, it just wants you to rotate colourful mundane objects and become excited when the toaster becomes a pot. It can appease any age group, and is also a fantastic way of teaching people about how one’s perspective can alter their viewpoint of objects and situations alike. If you want to waste hours rotating a boot, then this is definitely a game you want to try out.
LINKS AND THINGS
The White Door
Robert Hill wakes up in a Mental Health facility and suffers from severe memory loss. Follow the facility's strict…