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Video Game / A House of Many Doors

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Rig an election. Seduce an oil rig. Sacrifice your companions to appease ancient and terrible gods.

A House of Many Doors is a 2D exploration RPG created by Pixeltrickery and released for PC through Steam in 2017.

You play as a poet-captain exploring a parasite dimension called the House, which steals things, people, and entire places from other dimensions. You travel in a kinetopede, a mechanical train on legs, accompanied by an eclectic crew of humans, sharkmen, fungi, and zombies, hunting for profit and looking for new experiences to write into your latest poems. What begins as the hunt for some of your stolen brain matter balloons out into a massive adventure through the myriad modular empires spread across giant rooms, all in pursuit of the most secure room in the House, once said to hold the greatest treasure of all time...

The game was funded on Kickstarter in 2015 and received support from Failbetter Games during its development. It takes inspiration from games like Sunless Sea and Planescape: Torment, as well as China Miéville and Italo Calvino's literature.

This game provides examples of:

  • Alien Geometries:
    • Among the Sanctioned gods, Anglecrab rules over impossible angles and such like things. A sort of subversion as well, as Anglecrab can (and is willing to) ease the madness caused by going too deep.
    • The Fractal Fortress is essentially made of this and heavily associated with Anglecrab.
  • And I Must Scream: Bodach's Gaze, which have been stuck staring at the same section of floor for thousands of years.
  • Arc Symbol: Several references are made to nine destroyed worlds and teeth descending from the sky.
  • Art Shift: During the dream of the House, after finding an Aspect of the Trickster.
  • Bad Boss: Potentially, you. Even presuming you don't get your upper deck crew members killed, you can certainly make them hate you with all their heart.
  • Beauty to Beast: The explicit goal in Harmony's companion quest, minus the Face–Heel Turn.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Every city in the Entomarch is home to a different one of these, used as mounts:
    • The mantises of Penitent's Bluff,
    • The spiders of Gossamer Smile,
    • The wasps of Scornvaunt,
    • The beetles of Carapas,
    • The mosquitoes of Grossfathom,
    • and the dragonflies of Bluesteel Court.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Several instances.
    • The Archives of Tenk, which has the power to record the secret sins of almost everyone in the House. While most of these are normal (murder, treason, greed), some are outright wacky, like eating too much salt, dressing in yellow, or drowning. They are also disturbingly forgiving of matricide, regicide, and public executions for the amusement of more than twenty people.
    • Carchar have a law against naming themselves, which is punishable by gruesome death.
    • Humans in the House, because they worship seven crazy gods that were triumphant in the house's holy wars. Graveddon is a murder god, with all the human sacrifices that entails, but legally worshiped and propitiated with murder. Cobblestone is a god of pain and masochism. Abjah is Mister Eaten in all but name. And Anglecrab... let's just say he makes art violently interesting. Along with the artists.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Your character's stats are Graft, Guts, Spirit, Grit, Esoterica, Vigilance, Insight and Guile. They can be raised by spending Apprehensions, which are gained like EXP.
  • Body Horror: Almost too many examples to list, but an honourable mention goes to being absorbed into the Heart of the House at the end of Peter McNally's companion quest.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: After killing Scorthidion at the end of A Night of Clocks, your kinetopede desperately scrambles towards the rapidly expanding breach in the House after having a dozen of its legs broken under the god's corpse. It's never said if you make it through at all, let alone if doing so spits you safely onto another world.
  • The Caligula: Chimer's Emperor is a textbook paranoid-schizophrenic, constantly executing subjects and changing his mind. Even his questline rewards are a Luck-Based Mission, as he will reward or punish you on a dice roll independent of your choices and results.
  • Church Militant: The priests of the Cathedral of Stolen Gods.
  • Companion-Specific Sidequest: Every recruitable upper deck officer sans one has their own, amounting to a total of 30 quests.
  • Crapsaccharine World:
    • The City of Keys, ruled by the Governor, has the Factory run by orphan labour and Kennedy Yard, a detention centre for new visitants to the House. Interestingly, people outside the Cities aren't always aware of the brutalities under the Governor's rule.
    • The City of Angels looks like a classical vision of Heaven, with golden spires, lush parks and wine flowing like water. Then one notices the non-divine citizens living in constant fear of the swarms of angels spying on them at every possible moment. Even taking a perfectly legal, sin-free picnic with your crew requires passing a Spirit challenge to ignore them.
    • The Confectorate probably also counts as a literal example of this.
    • The House itself: a living, extradimensional parasite world of endless wonder and horror. Mostly horror.
  • Crapsack World: Some of the locations arguably veer well into this, in particular the Chimeric and Threaded Empires.
  • Dead All Along: Persephone isn't just dead, her spirit passed on centuries ago. The "spirit" you've been talking to in your dreams is none other than the Governor, who has manipulated kinetopede captains to re-discover the Orchard for her.
  • Death is Cheap: Averted with a passion. Unlike Sunless Sea, the game is perfectly fine with killing all your officers if you're unlucky or stupid enough to run out of fuel and then attract attention of the pirate-priests.
  • Demonic Possession:
    • Spire, one of your Lookouts, suffers from this, though more precisely it's a case of divine possession.
    • Also a possible ending to Dr Mobius Vanch's companion quest.
  • Did You Just Romance Cthulhu?: Among the romance options in the game are a sentient murder of ten million crows and an oil rig.
  • Divine Conflict: The War of the Gods, waged a few millennia ago between two factions over whether or not humanity should be punished for its crimes.
  • Door to Before: Every location you're supposed to explore during the Oddwinter quest (Pannachak Oil Rig, Stupefaction Baths and the Founder) has a certain point where you can go back to the main location without losing your progress.
  • Eldritch Location: The House itself and most of the places you visit in it.
  • Eternal Recurrence: The entire House is implied to be stuck in a time loop, resetting every few thousand years. Confirmed if you follow the Night of Clocks storyline, in which you are told that the House needs to die because it's been stealing people and resources for millions of years.
  • Everyone Is Bi: The game never asks you to specify your character's gender, and romantic encounters use gender-neutral language.
  • Evil Mask: The Masked from the City of Masks. Removing and destroying the Mask is possible with extreme force but will leave the wearer an Empty Shell.
  • Fantastic Drug: Godsmoke, extracted from the remains of a dying deity in Vex, sends you into their deathbed delirium.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Some options are subtitled "This is not a good idea". This pretty much ensures the player will cave, especially when, as with "Drink Bottled Darkness", you see it every time you visit a city.
  • Foreshadowing: Panorama Volt's storyline gets creepy because her visions have given her disturbing revelations about the house.
    • The Maelstrom Room jolts human sacrifices with a fatal dose of foresight. One priest-sacrifice after electric crisping manages to shout to your character, who is a complete stranger to them, because they saw a REALLY important piece of information involving you.
    Priest: [Player Name]! DON'T FOLLOW THE STORYTELLER!!!
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Completing A Night of Clocks storyline will delete your save files, wipe the menu screen, quit the game, and make it permanently unplayable. Unless of course, you delete one file in the game directory. Then you can start a new game again without any issues.
  • Functional Magic: Technically, Magic isn't possible in the House - but it's possible in other worlds. Thus, occult rituals primarily involve convincing the House to follow the rules of one of those worlds.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation:
    • Witnessing unnerving events will drain your Sanity. Particularly distressing experiences will give you a Hideous Revelation or a Mind-Shattering Disruption, which limit your max Sanity.
    • If your Sanity drops to 0, the bar will simply say "smiling".
  • Hell Is That Noise: The game soundtrack while low on Sanity.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Governor's Men are magically and technologically augmented secret police who've had their identities completely rewritten to ensure unflinching loyalty. It isn't 100% effective, as Bishop Landman can be convinced to desert during his sidequest.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Cromlech develops this perspective when he has a vision of a giant human woman eating an entire world. This is an analogy for the crime The Governor committed by eating the Orchard's Fruit. Shifts to Humans Are Flawed if you show him the wonders that humanity has created in turn.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Inverted: an immortal can only die by their own hand (although it's possible to get creative with this).
  • Immortality Seeker:
    • The Governor and her original crew, sans Persephone. They succeeded.
    • In one possible ending, you and your crew.
  • Immortality Immorality: The only way to become immortal is to eat a fruit from the Orchard, which means destroying an entire world and its inhabitants.
  • Interface Screw: Happens to the game text while low on Sanity.
  • Interspecies Romance: Other than the more esoteric options mentioned above, crewmates available to romance include a vampire and a goatman. Averted with Penpusher, a carchar, who is interested enough for a single encounter but finds you are "biologically incompatible", and Jhang Ba Sho, a mushroom person, whose entire species reproduces asexually.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Averted with the mycenae (mushroom people), who are sexless and genderless, and prefer the pronoun 'it'.
  • Kill the God: Not only possible but required at the end of some quests. Hell, the city of Mergulus in the Threaded Empire has made a business out of slaughtering gods.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
    • The game's plot is kicked off by your character getting their memory stolen.
    • Those working for the Governor also routinely have parts of their memories extracted.
  • Lemony Narrator: Crops up occasionally, usually to comment on what a stupidly dangerous thing you're about to attempt.
    Who would willingly trespass inside a machine built to kill gods?
    [Enter the machine built to kill gods.]
  • Locked Door: The eponymous many doors of the House, which need a Key to be opened.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: During combat, your crew members who've lost enough of their Sanity begin acting irrationally, injuring themselves and nearby crew members.
  • Medium Awareness: Panorama Volt knows she's in a video game and has been forced to relive and die the same ancient miserable life over and over because she's a minion of the player. She makes every attempt to hinder or traumatize the player as her revenge.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: The Emperor of Chimer, hands down. He's suffering from extensive paranoid schizophrenia, and is constantly forgetting his own edicts which causes him to order executions for the crime of obediently following orders made by him a few weeks prior. Naturally, his empire is on the verge of rebellion.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The Patchwork soldiers of the Chimeric Empire.
  • Mobile Maze: Chimer.
  • Moral Event Horizon: You can perform a ritual that destroys an entire world, but Judith takes it even further and suggests that you mega-amplify the ritual to cosmic proportions and destroy ALL worlds outside the House.
  • Mortality Ensues: The only way an immortal can die is by their own hand. But nothing says that their own hands have to be moved by the immortal's choice.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: You get to choose your character's childhood, profession, and a hobby, all of which affect your starting stats and the story.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on who you trust with the Aspects of the Trickster.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: You can become a curator of your own Museum of Unnatural Curiosity.
  • Non-Human Head: Ten-A-Penny-Man with a giant candle for a head and Morbazar, the Clock-Faced god. There are also the Patchwork soldiers, though their condition is more man-made.
  • Organic Technology: Heartlights are a combination of massive lamp, Magitek enchantments and a still-living-person's still-beating-heart.
  • Organ Theft: There are reports of people getting their hearts stolen. Literally. Curiously, this isn't lethal to the victim.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Humanoid Abominations with wings and too many eyes. They act less like the servants of gods and instead live by leeching off power from them. They can even become gods in their own right, as in the case of Morbazar.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The Mycena 'Free' State is a colony under the rule of an insane emperor. Mycena are enslaved and worked to the bone to destroy their cultural heritage and use the scraps to build a giant statue of the emperor. Many of them are executed so their corpses can be used to create a popular human drug. It may have been based on the Congo Free State, which was a brutal dictatorship solely owned by King Leopold II that enslaved, tortured, and murdered 15 million people.
  • Physical Religion: How the worship of the Sanctioned gods mostly works.
  • Point of No Return: After finding an Aspect of the Trickster, you're asked to deliver it to one person of your choosing and will be unable to change your opinion later. The warning for choosing to support Morbazar over Persephone packs a bit more punch, though.
  • Punk Punk: The House, taken as a whole, is a bizarro mishmash of every punk setting sans Cyberpunk (actual instances of cyberpunk have been killed and buried), with one or two being heavily featured depending on your current location.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: It's a small house with a lot of desperate worship. Conflict with the highest-known powers is inevitable.
    • The northwest-dominant Roaming Pirate-Priests faction wants to collect every god in the house, by force primarily. They are exactly as corrupt as they sound and damn proud of it.
    • The southeast-dominant Threaded faction wants to kill every god in the house. Ironically, they basically worship a bunch of literal heart-worms that replace human souls and live like pompous assholes.
    • And the central Seven Cities faction worships seven gods and prompts its citizens to actively fight against all others with permission to be as brutal and merciless as humanly possible.
      • One guy imprisoned his god in Photebor Quinn, a city of bathhouses as revenge for betrayal. Of course, the bathhouse thing means he's had decades to relax and soothe of his rage, so he's no longer in the fight.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: It's cosmic horror; do the math. Of special note, however, is The Stormlands, in the far south and behind a locked Door. Reality is in constant flux due to being just a few rooms north of the breach covered by Scorthidion.
  • Redshirt Army: All lower deck crew members, although Word of God says Swabbies were intended to be particularly prone to this.
    • Delving into a dungeon with low stats usually gets your crew members killed, "He's dead Jim" style.
    • If you have a dangerous beast in captivity and it breaks loose, one of your guards is always the first one to go.
    • Using an arcane engine sometimes prompts it to wake up and demand worship. If you refuse, you're out one Junior Engineer.
    • You need someone in the gunner room to fire your weapons. Gunners have the highest accuracy of the crew. It is in the best interest of your enemy to disable your usage of guns (when you set the AI from 'stupid' to 'competent' in the options menu). Do the math.
    • Swabbies are usually the first to be offered for human sacrifices.
  • Relationship Values: Measured with your upper deck crew members. Having 5+ Relationship with a crew member allows you to re-recruit them for free in any of the Cities.
  • The Reveal: The House of Many Doors belongs to The Multiverse's Goddess of Death Herself. She was betrayed and locked out of her house by her steward, a giant sentient heart, and her stepson, who was a nobody that died from an erupting volcano but became an immortal thanks to Death's shenanigans (the boy still doesn't understand why Death would spare him of all people). Back then, the house was relatively small and empty, so the boy brought other immortals to the house to play with, but those immortals brought / made mortals to play with, whose presence (and deaths) gave Death enough influence to get back into her house. To survive, the boy and the steward turned the house into a giant wasteland / labyrinth of rooms and doors so they could run and hide in different locked rooms, always keeping Death guessing which door they hid behind.
  • Romance Sidequest: You can romance some of your crew as well as a few NPCs in certain locations.
  • Scare Chord: When your Sanity drops to Broken.
  • Scenery Porn: Catherine Unger's art for the game is nothing short of breathtaking.
  • Schizo Tech: Kinetopedes have steam-based engines but use electronic radios. There are also instances of modern technology (televisions and helicopters) dotted around the house alongside pulley-elevators and single-shot rifles. Justified as the Governor is regulating technology levels by imprisoning the more technologically advanced travelers to keep the House under their control.
  • Sharing a Body: Abbas, one of your Guard Captains, shares his body... with himself.
    • Spire is a photographer that unfortunately saw something he shouldn't have and now half his brain is replaced with the eye of a crippled god.
    • Dr. Mobius Vanch can infest himself with a sentient colony of black plague.
  • Shark Man: The Carchar are a species of this.
  • Soul Jar: The seven Aspects of the Trickster.
  • The Trickster: The only person who can command the House to do something.
  • Truce Zone: The Old Hallow Inn south of the City of Masks acts as one. All violence is prohibited here, making it place of sanctuary where people on the run can hide without fear of pursuit. Many of its guests are permanent residents.
  • Vampire Hunter: You can become one with help from Genevieve, one of your Lightbearers.
  • Vanishing Village: The City of Glass, although it's not unlocked at any particular time - instead, you have to collect enough clues and piece together its location. They vanished on purpose, and it's easy to see why. You can totally sell them out to the Governor for twenty grand.
    • The Orchard is the stolen paradise of Eden in all but name and the final objective required to beat the game, but its location changes by the whim of its owner AND for safety he always keeps it at least three locked rooms away from the nearest unlocked room (you don't have to worry about this part) AND the final door requires a unique key that is currently held by the Governor of the City of Keys. And all of this security is for a VERY good reason...
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can donate some of your fuel to help an ailing kinetopede, rescue stranded passengers, and help your crew members achieve their dreams...
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: ...Or you can attack the weakened travelers, take your passengers captive and strap them to the front of your kinetopede, and deliberately stab your crew members in the back.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Governor weathers being called out for mass murder, shot in the chest, and burned alive as if she were being poked by a marshmallow, but then you grab the spear she used to murder Persephone with, and with a horrified realization she loses her posture and desperately orders you to stop, just long enough for you to impale her and stick her helplessly into a tree, presumably for all eternity. Then to twist the blade further, you grab her shaking hand and use it to make her stab herself to death.
  • Warrior Poet: The Poet-Knights of Fargyle Keep.
  • Wham Episode: The Trickster portion of the game. Two out of three Arc Questions are answered here, in RPGMaker 2D-walking simulator form.
    You dream you are in an orchard -
    You dream you are in the house.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: If you choose to end the game by escaping the House, each of your crew members you took with you gets a slide detailing how their life continued after you parted ways.
  • Womb Level: Scars of Sheng is a city of living, cancer-stricken stone which frequently splits open in bloody chasms. Then you have Blad Raddock: A giant mountain of flesh that allows its inhabitants to "mine" organs from living people on other worlds.
  • World Tree: The Orchard and its fruit, each containing a different world.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Most of the Sanctioned gods, particularly Abjah (god of Nothingness) and Anglecrab (god of Alien Geometries).