First Impressions: Door Kickers

Door Kickers

It’s time to lay down our fists for just a brief moment, give those punching bones a rest and raise our boots and thrust those femurs through some doors. Don’t worry, fists; I haven’t forgotten about you. I know it may seem that way, especially as I’ve dedicated the last 24 hours to kicking down door after door after door, but we’ll be united once again, so don’t you worry. It’s all Door Kickers‘ fault. I didn’t think an action-strategy game would honestly have so much pull over me, and at first, it seemed I might have been right. But then, oh, my, but then I started saving hostages and pulling off ten murders in as many seconds, and this game had well and truly kicked down my door and entered my love sphere.

There’s a Lite version, you see? Basically a demo. It can’t be helped. I only have a handful of levels to play with, but you can be damn sure that I’ve aced every single one of them and am continuing to do so. I don’t know what it is about this new lover of mine, but they’re just so slick and easy to get on with; would it be criminal of me to say that I find it to be more enjoyable than Frozen Synapse? Don’t get me wrong; they’re both great games, but Door Kickers control systems have been simplified to such an extent that you literally only need to use a mouse to control the game. That’s probably the biggest pull.

Door KickersI’m going to do something unusual right now. I think that Killhouse Games deserve it. I’m going to sit here for a full five minutes and just applaud their control system and how they’ve managed to concentrate a deep strategy system into a mouse. Be back in five…

(Thunderous booms shook from his fists with a merry rhythm. The slapping of palms fetched out of the window and bounced off the brick on the other side of the street. People came rushing out of their houses.)


“No turns, no hexes, no action points or awkward interfaces”


…aaaaaand done.

You need to understand! In Door Kickers you are controlling every movement of a four-man SWAT team as they move into various sized buildings in a shoot-to-kill mission, usually with a hostage or two to save along the way. When things start off, you can only see the basic layout of the area and have to move your team in view to reveal parts of the level. And even if you do reveal the whole level, you can only see the areas that your team members can, so you’re encouraged to have them in vital positions to cover certain choke points to restrict enemy movement.

But what’s important is that you control where they’ll move, which direction they’ll face, whether they’ll set a charge on a door or use a spy camera on it or just kick through. You can instruct them exactly where to throw a flashbang. Somehow, you can co-ordinate a four-man spread across a huge building and take out every hostile inside within a matter of seconds.

ALL WITH YOUR MOUSE!

Door Kickers

There are a couple of hiccups, being that it’s an alpha version and not even the most up-to-date build (the Lite version, that is), but it’s mostly completely smooth flowing, and being able to pause the action and plan the movements and actions of your team every second allows time for your brain to catch up to the situation, so it feels like your team are proper SWAT and have those reactions and know-how to deal with practically any scenario. Of course, you still get some jackass who’s more than happy to blow the head off a hostage before you can intervene, and you still need to replay some of the levels over and over again to figure out the best routes and tactics. And even then, the enemies start in different positions and move about on their own free, and will therefore catching you off guard.

You’ll never quite match the satisfaction of blowing up a door into a large room with two guys flying in from one side to take out those they stunned, while two other guys rush in to flank them during the distraction. I think the most satisfying part of planning out the strategy is that breach and entry; when you get the element of surprise, in a couple of seconds, there are a couple of chalk outlines where a person used to stand.

Door Kickers

It’s a thing of beauty and manages to capture the planning and satisfying execution of more complex strategy games, as well as the gung-ho and the popping-off of growly man in military shooters. Door Kickers is a thing of beauty in that regard. It’s probably the best man-shootery game I’ve played in years. That’s probably not saying a lot, considering the competition. Oh, here’s a better one: it’s the military “tango down,” tactical strategy version of Hotline Miami. Imagine if you took some of the colorful screen-popping out of Miami and replaced it with thoughtful pause-play and blokes in wifebeaters.

I’ve just cursed my future by finding out that there will be a mission editor, mods and a mission/campaign generator. I’m not even kidding when I say I could probably play Door Kickers forever, so long as there were some new missions to do every now and again, so there you have it. I’m doomed! So easy-to-play and just so satisfying. What a lethal concoction.

You should absolutely go and play the Lite version, probably purchase the full game and then vote it up over on Greenlight too.