There aren’t enough superlatives to use with this Doors of Insanity Early Access review – I’m borderline obsessed with this game from OneShark and Another Indie, and find myself returning to a ‘quick run’ at every opportunity.
A deck-building dungeon crawler with rogue-like properties, this is insanely addictive, featuring intuitive gameplay, wicked character designs and a diverse selection of cards to play with.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg as you’ll kit your adventurer out with apparel, equipment and artefacts to take your progress one step further than the last adventure. Is Doors of Insanity any good though? Really? I thought I made it clear from the opener.
Doors of Insanity Early Access Review
Your path to insanity begins with creating an avatar. There’s a fair amount to choose from, but the customisable options are choosing a male or female character, their face, plus their hair and skin colour.
Compared to the characters you go up against, the initial selection was unremarkable, but as you progress through the game, you unlock loads more faces that you can’t help but experiment with for each run. Then again, you’re going to sporting various equipment; you probably won’t see it all anyway.
When you’re good to go, you pick a room to enter. These range from a standard battle, Elite enemy to tackle, a well to replenish health, a merchant for, well, ‘stuff’, a witch to sacrifice a card to and receive a random one in return, then a multitude of random doors that could take you anywhere.
The motivation in Doors of Insanity is being so many doors away from the boss. Once you beat the first one, the distance to the subsequent increases and so on. Standard battles are straightforward enough, but the random ones can bypass a fight if low on health. Then again, you may end up losing health that way too.
Let The Battles Commence
The core Doors of Insanity gameplay is about the battles leading up to the boss. Health is scarce, so you’ll need to equip artefacts or cards to replenish it, but these are random too, unless you find a well, or locate or purchase health cards.
Each character has a base attack and defence stats and critical attacks that can double the damage you do – all improved by the gear you equip. While they don’t function as health, you also receive die that you can play as a defensive technique or an attack on the enemy, albeit a small one.
But the magic comes from your deck. You have a mana pool of six, and each card shows the cost in the top right. Once the mana is up, you end your turn. Cards in Doors of Insanity are won after battles, through random encounters, and purchased from the merchant.
There are offensive and defensive cards, each depicting its specific power. When you use a card, it gets shuffled back into the deck unless it’s a consumable card, it which case once used, you have to wait until the next battle.
To survive in Doors of Insanity Early Access, you need to make the most of your defensive strategy due to the lack of health. Other than a high defence stat to take off the edge, you play cards that absorb damage, and these stack. When an enemy attacks, it deduct the absorb amount first, but it resets to zero after each turn.
As you’d expect, there are buffs and debuffs that apply to both you and the enemy, and you can have passive ones too. In this case, it’s the artefacts that you carry into battle. Perhaps you’ll start each match with 20 absorb or heal 5HP at the end of every fight.
There’s a vast range of equipment you can use. These are awarded at the end of battles, or purchased at a merchant and are random. Often your style sense in Doors of Insanity Early Access is dictated by the best stats, choosing from clothing that applies to head, body, legs and hands, then either a one-handed weapon with a shield or a two-hander.
Alas, each death means you lose everything except one card you can take with you. But each run raises your XP, and you can permanently level up your character with improved attack and defence, as well as a discount from the merchant, among others.
It Plays Like A Cartoon!
The Doors of Insanity art style has a 1930s ish aesthetic like the old Disney films mixed in with what Cuphead was able to achieve. Without a doubt, these enemy characters are superb, and depending on your loadout, your character looks like the mutts nuts.
With the incremental progression, each time and the sheer randomness of it all, Doors of Insanity Early Access never feels unfair when you die. With the permanent stat increases, you’ll note the difference in early levels, wiping out many of the baddies with a few hits.
But if it gets too easy, and that’s not going to happen any time soon, you can increase the difficulty and recruit alternative bosses to continually make it a challenge. There’s also PvP, but I haven’t dabbled in that. Even though this is Early Access, I anticipate that I’ll be playing this for an age.
Aside from the brilliant artwork, the soundtrack is fantastic and varied. It did get a little samey at one point, but that’s most likely down to me binging it. Doors of Insanity has firmly placed deck building games on my radar now. It was Watch Me Stream My Mental Breakdown, then Neoverse, and now Door of Insanity Early Access.
As it stands, I don’t think I’ll tire of playing this. As long as I have my Summon Lil Jimmy cards, Eazy Slash cards and Meat Loaf, that both cost zero mana, I may finally destroy God. Don’t read into that; just play the bloody game.