Quick Review: Door Kickers Alpha (Lite)
I’ve never funded a Kickstarter campaign for a video game before, but I nearly did for some. KillHouse Game’s Door Kickers had my wallet out, but the nature of the game turned me off. They, like all the other campaigns I was interested in, desired to restore the elements found in the heyday of tactical shooters to a modern gaming platform. In this case, it would be a 2D top-down tactical planning sim inspired by Rainbow Six and SWAT. Although this isn’t a game I would play regularly (for certain reasons), I felt obligated as a RS/SWAT veteran to at least check out the free alpha.
Note: The Alpha 3 “Lite” version was released well before the early access version on Steam. I hadn’t played this version found on their website until recently. Because of obvious reasons, I’ll only be talking about the core portions of the game that are clearly shared across all versions.
Door Kickers is both a real time and – well, I guess you could say “turn based” – game. You start each level by planning the route and actions of your SWAT troopers. This ranges from navigating through a simple room and eliminating targets on the way or breaching rooms from multiple angles, tossing in a flashbang, and letting one trooper sweep the room as the other provides cover. All of this is conveyed through a planning interface that is available throughout the mission. When you’re ready to execute the plan, you press play and watch your decisions unfold.
Of course, you don’t have to do it that way. Routes can be changed mid-mission and you can even control the current direction that a trooper is looking at as they’re moving. For more complex levels with multiple rooms and more enemies, each room can have its own plan as you move through the building, adapting to changing situations. It carry its title if there were no doors to kick, and there are plenty. In addition, you can place breaching charges, look under the door with a snake cam, and much more later on, I’m sure. Don’t forget about tossing flashbangs to disorient enemies in a room and breaking your orders up into a series of steps to activate on the fly.
At this point, you could almost go as far to say that Door Kickers is simply a SWAT RTS of some sort, much like SWAT 2. But this feeling quickly goes away as you realize that missions are graded on a simple three star scale. The time it takes to complete the mission carries the most, if not all, of the weight towards your final score. This is not at all a bad thing. Quick and efficient planning was always a staple of tactical shooters of the late 90’s. But the structure of replaying missions for a better time and score seems to mirror that of a mobile or tablet game than a tactical shooter tribute.
Regardless, that is the folly of the “modern gaming platform”, which is what Door Kicker‘s is trying to latch onto with a both beloved and dying genre. It’s a novel and very entertaining attempt, as far as Alpha 3 “Lite” sits. What lies on the other side? Trooper customization, inventories, more tools, levels, a tutorial, maybe even a campaign story. Multiplayer came to mind while playing, it could work, possibly. Door Kickers is fun and surely seems easy to build on in the future.