You wake up to a series of missed messages on your phone. Shit, today’s going to be horrible.
Today is taking place in Open the Door and Smile, an entry in the 33rd Ludum Dare game jam, and it does indeed look like it’s shaping up to be horrible. There are messages on the phone from your partner, saying that the police are on the way. You worry that he’s going to take your daughter.
The walls and blinds of your room look jagged. As you turn, they take on the appearance of razor blades. The walls are closing in on you. The ambient noise—it’s probably just a light breeze—is working its way into your head. It won’t stop. It keeps getting louder. You can’t get it to go away.
You run around your flat looking for your pills, something to calm your nerves. Where on earth are they? They must be here somewhere. Granted it would be easier to find them if your world wasn’t tessellating. But at this very moment you don’t have that luxury. Your world is collapsing around you—and, where in the name of all things holy, are those pills?
Open the Door and Smile fits into the broad category of anxiety games, but it is interested in the source of your avatar’s anxiety more than the anxiety itself. While the latter is admittedly more conducive to gameplay, it is not necessarily the most interesting part of a story. Throughout its brief playing time, Open the Door and Smile hints at this underlying story. It would be mean-spirited to spoil that story here. Suffice it to say Open the Door and Smile contains quite the emotional payoff. If Open the Door and Smile’s pieces only make sense to you in hindsight, then you have learned a measure of empathy for the plight of others in the process.