ReviewsReview: Behind Closed Doors: A Developer's Tale

Review: Behind Closed Doors: A Developer’s Tale

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Life can often be mundane and repetitive. However, these are the crosses we must bear if we are to survive. Unfortunately, not all of us can be rich and famous and therefore, we must do what we have to do. This is the reality for the protagonist in Behind Closed Doors: A Developer’s Tale. It is a slow and tedious game that has an unexpected and bizarre twist. It also has an unusual concept of a game within a game and this just adds to the madness.

Developed by Polygonal Wolf and published by Sometimes You, this is a pixelated adventure title that merges various genres. It utilises 8-Bit sound, garish colours, and basic imagery as it tells its weird story. You will test both platforming and shooting abilities as you complete your day job and fight for your life. As I said, it throws a few curveballs and keeps you guessing, right to the very end.

Behind Closed Doors: A Developer’s Tale is a game of two halves.

I’m not usually a fan of super slow-paced titles, as I want my attention to be grabbed from the off. However, I’m glad I gave Behind Closed Doors: A Developer’s Tale the time it deserves. You control Ethan, a program developer who has a pregnant wife and a wicked sense of humour. He is good at his job, but he is merely a “normal” man. Consequently, he must grind away at his work, no matter how much it displeases him.

His life follows a simple pattern of waking up, speaking to his wife, preparing for work, and writing new computer games. As his day unfolds, he must reply to emails, test new assets, and return home. I think we can all agree that Ethan’s life is as dull as dishwater. Yet, this quickly changes when he enters a mysterious land and must find a way to return to his loved ones. This adventure has you battling fiery skulls, bats, slimes, and bosses. You will shoot weapons, avoid spikes, leap onto platforms, and collect coins. Subsequently, it has many well-trodden platforming elements, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Behind Closed Doors: A Developer's Tale revisits the same bedroom scene throughout.
This feels like deja vu.

It doesn’t really test you.

Whenever a game focuses on old-school elements, I expect to be tested throughout. However, this wasn’t the case in Behind Closed Doors: A Developer’s Tale. Sadly, most of the action is simple and obvious. Therefore, it won’t test you and will frustrate veteran gamers of the genre. Yet, though, the ideas are straightforward, you will still die a lot. Disappointingly, the controls are loose and ill-conceived and this impacts movement and moments of accuracy. This was gut-wrenchingly annoying, and there were many times when I just wanted to scream.

Yes, there are snippets of difficulty, but with minimal practice, these are easily overcome. This basic approach sadly leaches into each boss fight and this was unfortunate. You’ll steamroller your way through each chapter with little thought or concern. Sadly, matters are made worse as there are no secret areas, the checkpoints are too generous, and most of the landscape is too easy to navigate. In short, there are many areas of the gameplay that will leave you wanting.

Behind Closed Doors: A Developer's Tale has the same easy boss to overcome.
Not this boss again.

Behind Closed Doors: A Developer’s Tale is old-school.

From the bright colours to the simple animation, Behind Closed Doors: A Developer’s Tale is distinctly old-school. I adored strolling around the different locations and the combination of genres. The action seamlessly flits between side-scrolling gameplay and top-down shooting. Alongside this, you are treated to simple but varied locations that break down the monotony.

Unsurprisingly, there is a basic soundtrack that combines high-energy songs with some sombre moments. As well as this, there are some interesting, yet dated, sound effects that match the bizarre fantasy segments. However, though I enjoyed its eclectic style, I wish there were more songs to listen to. I quickly tired of what I heard, especially when you listen to the same track for the nth time.

Behind Closed Doors: A Developer's Tale has an eclectic mix of locations to explore.
Brrrrr, I bet you wish you wore more than just your pyjamas!

Obvious tasks but terrible controls.

The UI is noticeably good, and this was a key reason for the game’s simple style. Whenever a task was to be completed, a clear label or text instructions keep you on the straight and narrow. Furthermore, unlike some of its peers, you’ll discover that your weaponry is very easy to access and use. There is no doubt that this understated approach undermines the overall potential, but it was essential when the controls were so woeful. Because of the inaccurate and slippery controls, you will fall to your death and walk into your foes. For a modern game, the execution of its control system was disappointing.

Unfortunately, the low replay value and limited longevity affect its potential as well. There are only a handful of levels, a few bosses, and minimal challenges as you complete this title. Furthermore, Behind Closed Doors: A Developer’s Tale will only take between 1 to 2 hours. This is painfully short even for an indie game, but perfect for completionists. 

Behind Closed Doors: A Developer’s Tale left me wanting. 

Even though I found the slow opening to be tedious, I enjoyed the twist that followed. It tied together some of the weird ideas and gave the game an unexpected conclusion. However, it could and should have been much better. The controls were woeful, and the story wasn’t long enough. What’s more, the lack of difficulty undermines everything. If you want to try an unusual title, then I recommend you buy it here! Alternatively, there are better examples of indie adventure games to sink your teeth into. Can you overcome the monsters and traps and defeat this bizarre title? Jump, shoot, and climb your way to victory. 

SUMMARY

Behind Closed Doors: A Developer's Tale is a story of two halves. You open with a slow and monotonous day-to-day life that will confuse you and put you off. This then evolves and you experience some weird and whacky gameplay about a game within a game. It had the potential to be fantastic, but its simplicity undermines it from the off.


+ Simple retro graphics.
+ The second half of the action is unusual and interesting.
+ A great game for completionists.
+ Plenty of potential.

- It is too easy.
- The controls aren't good enough.
- The audio is too repetitive.
- It isn't long enough.

(Rating: PEGI 7 Mild Violence, Fear Release date: 18/05/2022 Price: £4.19)


(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.)


Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com

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Review: Behind Closed Doors: A Developer's Tale<p class="has-text-align-justify" style="font-size:14px"><em>Behind Closed Doors: A Developer's Tale</em> is a story of two halves. You open with a slow and monotonous day-to-day life that will confuse you and put you off. This then evolves and you experience some weird and whacky gameplay about a game within a game. It had the potential to be fantastic, but its simplicity undermines it from the off.</p><br/> + Simple retro graphics.<br/> + The second half of the action is unusual and interesting.<br/> + A great game for completionists.<br/> + Plenty of potential.<br/> <br/> - It is too easy.<br/> - The controls aren't good enough.<br/> - The audio is too repetitive.<br/> - It isn't long enough.<br/> <br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(<b>Rating:</b> PEGI 7 Mild Violence, Fear <b>Release date:</b> 18/05/2022 <b>Price:</b> £4.19)</p><br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.)</p><br/>