Developer Kenny Sun is best known for his unique puzzle games involving geometric shapes. Each of those games picks a shape and builds a puzzle experience around it that tends to differ entirely from the developer's previous games. There are some common points, of course. The games usually have a ton of levels, each one introduced with a card stating that it was made by Kenny Sun. They're also typically audiovisual treats, albeit abstract ones. A Hollow Doorway [Free] follows in the footsteps of games like Yankai's Triangle [$2.99] and Yankai's Peak [$2.99] in some ways, but it's different in that this is more of a game of reflexes than considered thought. It has this developer's usual flourishes, but in terms of mechanics, it's closer to something like Super Hexagon [$2.99] than the positional puzzles seen in the last couple of Sun games.

You control a hollow doorway. Some may call this a rectangle, but I assure you that it is a hollow doorway. Sliding your finger left or right will spin the doorway, and that's about all you can do with it. Luckily, that's all you have to do with it. What you need to do is to position the doorway such that it lines up with the outer doorways closing in on it. You can be off by a little bit, but if you're too far in one direction or the other, the doors will crash into each other and you'll get a game over. Line things up right and you'll earn some hollow points and move a little bit closer to the end of the stage. A percentage counts upwards as you pass through doors, and when you reach 100%, the level is cleared and you can move on to the next one.

The levels are randomized to an extent, so you probably won't run into the exact same arrangement of doorways too often. While the game does pull out a few tricks like pausing or turning doorways at the last second, most of the challenge comes from trying to keep up with the regular onslaught of doorways. Things get faster as you go along, so you're going to have to push your reflexes if you want to get very far. Should you fail partway through a stage, you can continue once and only once. Odds are pretty good you'll just die immediately after continuing anyway, once you're off the proverbial bunny slope, anyway. The cost of that continue depends on how much you've paid, and I guess this is as good a time as any to talk about that.

Sun's previous efforts have been paid games upfront. Much as I personally love that model, it's a tough road to take on mobile, particularly with puzzle games. A Hollow Doorway switches over to a free-to-play model with ad support and something resembling loot boxes. There are frequent mandatory ads and some incentivized ones that offer extra goodies, like the aforementioned continue. For their part, the loot boxes aren't for much other than cosmetic items you can equip to change how your doorway looks. You can buy them with in-game currency that you'll slowly gather as you play.

If all of that sounds dreadful to you, I have some good news. The game includes a couple of IAPs that make all of that go away. One $0.99 IAP strips out the ads, while another $0.99 IAP basically takes out all of the free-to-play systems, including the loot boxes and the somewhat slow gain of the hollow points used for buying and leveling up the cosmetic equipment. It's so cheap to buy out that it's barely a decision at all provided you have a means of paying.

Anyway, that's that. Whether or not you choose to buy the IAPs, A Hollow Doorway remains a fun, challenging romp in the Super Hexagon vein. The movement of the doorways as they close in is almost hypnotic, and the music is excellent. There are a bunch of leaderboards and achievements through Game Center for those who enjoy that sort of thing as well. The game is essentially endless as far as I can tell. Upon clearing the ninth level, you'll be taken "back" to level one, but this time it has an added plus mark after its number. Looping around adds more pluses, and the game naturally gets more difficult as you go. Unlike some games of this sort, A Hollow Doorway doesn't kick you back to the start of the game when you fail. Instead, you can continue from the beginning of the highest level you've reached. It does keep track of your streaks, however, so there's an incentive for avoiding mistakes.

That's probably all I can really say about A Hollow Doorway. It's simple in structure but quite enjoyable. It lacks some of the cleverness of the last couple of Kenny Sun games, and its more active nature means that not every fan of those games will be able to get into this one. On the other hand, its focus on twitch reflex action rather than head-scratching puzzles should help this game appeal to those who enjoy a solid arcade experience. The attractive visuals and fantastic tunes are just the icing on the cake.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • callmesteam

    DAT TITLE 😍😍😍 Give Shaun a raise

A Hollow Doorway Reviewed by Shaun Musgrave on . Rating: 4