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Spring Thing 2023 version
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Red Door Yellow Door

by Charm Cochran profile


Web Site

(based on 12 ratings)
7 reviews

About the Story

Guide your sister through a game of visualization, adventure, and danger, and perhaps discover truths about each other along the way.

This was originally intended for SeedComp!, but winded up being a bigger project than anticipated. It was submitted to Spring Thing 2023.

Game Details


Entrant, Main Festival - Spring Thing 2023


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Number of Reviews: 7
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Hypnosis gone agley., May 4, 2023
by Rovarsson (Belgium)

(This review is based on the Spring Thing 2023 version.)

But… but… I only wanted to play a game. A childish little spooky sleepover game… And now… She’s just…

This game starts out innocently enough. The youngest of the girls must take a tour through her own subconscious, aided and guided by her big sister’s voice. Soon enough, things take a turn into creepy territory.

The map of this game is splendid. It enhances the hypnotised-disoriented feeling of the little sister wandering through her own dream-world by looping back on itself in unexpected passages. Some locations are obviously dream or nightmare stuff, while others seem like minimalist doubles of familiar rooms. I don’t know which is spookier…

The hypnosis-game setup invites the player to enter in a sometimes confusing web of player-PC-agent-narrator relations. The different girls’ voices add to the confusion as each responds in their own way to the traumas that gradually come forward out of the shadows of the dream-world.

There are a few gaps in the implementation, mostly a synonym unrecognised or a reasonable but unnecessary command not understood. Nothing too worrying or distracting.

Very moody, in places actively scary. There are happier endings to be found, but the one I got feels just right (in a horror-story wrong way…)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Like a David Lynch film in its most unsettling moments, September 3, 2023
by Jim Nelson (San Francisco)

Looking over my review of the last Charm Cochran game I played, You May Not Escape!, I now think I may have lowballed it: While I maintain that the maze navigation was a bit of a slog, as the months have passed I’ve found myself thinking back on the striking imagery found in the labyrinth. There’s the patronizing LED signs, for example, and the grim gravesite markers, not to mention the “off” dialogue between the player and the maze-keeper at the start.

So, I’m not surprised to have experienced a similar set of odd resonances and striking imagery in Red Door Yellow Door.

The game launches into the thick of things. You are teenager Emily, older sister to Claire, and joined on the living room floor with friends Jen and Tiffany. The sleepover centers on a game, something like Ouija but more invasive. After you’ve explained the “rules” to Claire, you rub her temples and send her into a lucid dream state. From there, the game places you in a liminal space between the reality of the suburban living room and the netherworld Claire explores at your behest.

From a narratological perspective, RDYD operates much like the superb Closure. In that game, the command parser acts as text messages between you and your friend. In RDYD, you are feeding instructions to sister Claire, who reports her dreamworld to you while bored Jen and Tiff look on and check their phones.

RDYD operates on a more symbolic and psychological level, though, approaching something like a David Lynch film in its most unsettling moments. Much like science fiction’s acts of defamiliarization, Lynch’s horrors often work by his characters mildly accepting something utterly unsettling to the viewer—or, his characters being devastated by an image otherwise plain and unremarkable to us.

RDYD has a number of these moments, including a character speaking in voices, moments of calm suddenly turning to terror, and—weirdest of all—activating a device in the dream world causing one of the real-world teenage onlookers to speak gibberish. The rules offered at the start are equally strange and Lynchian (“Avoid any room with clocks, because they can trap you”). And, of course, there’s the power dynamics of an older sister guiding her younger sibling down this rabbit hole. (There are moments when the other girls urge you to end the session. It was unsettling as I talked them out of it so I could keep playing.)

Part of me wishes the dreamworld was described in a voice more unique to Claire, but I admit, the matter-of-fact tone IF is so famous for (“A sturdy door is to the north, while the kitchen is to the east”) plays well against the heightened sense of terror that pops up at you. The hoary problem of dark rooms requiring a light source is here, but unlike Zork et al., bringing a light into those spaces is used to devastating effect.

I had to stick with this one; there were long stretches of exploration where I felt untethered from any sense of forward motion or purpose. I played through to two endings, one horrible (and a little sudden—I’m still unsure what happened), one mundane and happy, if unsatisfying. I’m certain there’s at least one more ending, but I ran out of time and need to move back to the Spring Thing list. Perhaps I’ll get back to finding that third path.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Eerie dream exploration, July 2, 2023
by Cerfeuil (*Teleports Behind You* Nothing Personnel, Kid)

I'm a bit biased in my rating here, since this game is based on one of the prompts I submitted to Seedcomp. More specifically, a list of my own dreams. There are few things cooler and trippier than playing through a game featuring your own dreams, where you get to travel through expanded versions of your own dreamworlds that have been incorporated into a larger story (and a delightfully creepy one to boot). There were so many moments where I said to myself "Hey, I recognize this place!" or "Pairing these dreams is a great idea, they work together so well". Really fun stuff.

Gameplay's pretty typical: explore, take everything that isn't nailed down, use it to open doors and solve puzzles. The puzzles are good, making use of the environment in interesting ways. Took me about an hour and a half to get the true/bad ending, since I spent half an hour stuck not finding the gloves. Though that's probably my fault for not thinking to (Spoiler - click to show)open the kitchen cabinets. Some kind of hint that you need to do that would be nice, but maybe I'm just dumb. Besides that it was smooth sailing. Was really obvious that you needed to (Spoiler - click to show)give the meat to the fly, I just had to find the gloves, and then riding the fly up to the top of the tower is really fun. Good game.

Tiny quibbles: some of the things you can do could be better signposted—e.g. (Spoiler - click to show)entering the two cars involved in the car accident, and the schoolbus on Error Avenue—it'd help if it was made more obvious that you can go inside. Also, (Spoiler - click to show)Tiff and Jen can have the argument about whether or not to free the dad even after you've freed him. Happened for me when I freed him and then went to the living room.

I found three endings: (Spoiler - click to show)the one where you wake up before you free the dad, the one where Claire dies, and the one where you wake up after. There might be more endings, but I'm not sure how to get them. There were definitely events and things that I found and couldn't figure out how to do anything with. A list:
(Spoiler - click to show)
- The cool schoolbus mannequin sequence. Really trippy, loved that bit.
- I never figured out the point of tying things (though untying is necessary to free the dad) or crawling under things, two verbs the guide says are important.
- You can take the uncanny pillow and uncanny blanket, but I never figured out if they had a purpose, either.
- Taking photos is fun, but I'm not sure what it does? (Would be nice to have a list of all the things you photographed after ending the game, or something.)
- The entire point of the bicycle? Thought it might be needed for an escape sequence, but never ended up doing anything with it.
- Why can you pet the fly but if you try to hug it Claire tells you it's gross? This is an atrocity against flyhood, giant fly friend is cute please let the player hug it. If Claire can ride the fly to the top of the tower she should be able to hug it. Feed it treats. Give it a name. You know, Pokemon style.

But again, these are tiny quibbles. The overall experience was great, and I'd recommend this game to anyone who likes bizarre and unsettling dream adventures.

Random side note: The concept seriously reminds me of the Paths from the Pactverse setting. In short, Paths are game-like dream realms you can explore and get rewarded for upon completion, while failure leads to horrible death or worse. There's a bunch of TTRPG documents about them, including a list of canonical and fanmade Paths that's fun reading if you have some time to spare. I've always thought they were perfect game material and this game is what I've always wanted in terms of a Path-like text adventure.

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