Have You Played… Door Kickers

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I don’t know when I’ll ever get another first-person experience like SWAT 4, but Door Kickers [official site] is pretty close. It’s played from above, but you command a squad of well-trained soldiers to breach and clear rooms full of criminals, and it’s every bit as smart, tactical and exciting as its inspirations.

It can feel like a puzzle game at times: do you leave a man to watch this corridor, or do you take him with you because you’re stronger when your squad sticks together? Do you take smoke grenades to block off that angle, or do you leave it clear so your off-screen sniper can take a shot? You’ll die and die and try again, but the game becomes more compelling the harder it becomes. There’s slight randomisation to enemy movements and starting positions too, which means it’s never a simple case of rote learning. You need tactics if you’re to survive.

Since release, developers KillHouse Games have continued to update it with new maps on which to play, but the initial offering was hardly small. If you yearn for a tactics game you can play in a lunch break and have fun with, then here it is.


  1. LennyLeonardo says:

    Door Kickers Swallowed me whole. So fun. Also frustrating. Then fun again.

  2. Richard_from_Winnipeg says:

    This was a welcomed shot of tactical fun!

  3. Anthile says:

    Yeah, I actually reached 100% the other day safe for some of the grindy achievements. It’s a fun game with some really annoying flaws.
    -The game is worryingly random. You can set up a complex plan into motio
    n ten times and you can end up with ten very different results since accuracy, armor penetration and enemy placement are largely random. It was a huge issue and often frustrating because it lacks meaningful feedback.
    -Getting new gear is really grindy, especially getting the key weapons like the P90 or the silenced shotgun is a real pain. The vast majority of weapons is obsolete anyways, just like in the real Rainbow Six.
    -Difficulty is all over the place and some campaigns are real rollercoasters. The drug bust campaign is probably the most infamous example with the second and penultimate mission being borderline luck-based and some of the hardest missions in the game while the rest of the campaign is nothing special. The other ones were the Fire Station North from the single missions and the hostage rescue in the embassy. These four missions took me multiple hours each, and a lot of yelling.
    -Stealth is poorly explained and it’s rarely useful, just like the shields.
    -The interface has some weaknesses. You have only four different Go codes to coordinate strategies and that’s not a whole lot. You can’t tether two units or even a squad together to move in sync which is the main reason shield-units are struggling to be of any use. You also can’t automate breach+flashbang, you always have to do it manually.
    Another nuisance is that you can’t plan for other floors on the same map. It’s a bizarre oversight and thankfully this type of map is rare.

    So, uh, it’s a pretty fun game otherwise but I hope they make a sequel that fixes some of the design flaws.

    • Philopoemen says:

      Yup, and we’ve used it as a training tool too. Well, more an awareness tool in relation to active shooter situations – mandatory active shooter training involves watching a video before practical scenarios; found that making coppers use Door Kickers to demonstrate their thinking first is more effective, and makes for better scenario results, especially amongst the junior guys.

      That said, my old tactical team and I tried to recreate one of our jobs where nothing went wrong, and we all died every time lol.

      • Philopoemen says:

        damn you RPS and your comment structure…

      • Richard_from_Winnipeg says:

        One of the really interesting things coming from playing this game was how I approached the problem of breaching rooms.

        I’ve always seen in the movies and some training clips on youtube that a room would be flashed and the first guy through would clear the immediate corners to his side as he entered the door and wouldn’t worry about the far corners. This always bothered me.

        I realized that I needed to check the far corners from outside first – from breaching side – and then peek in to the near side corners as a pair.

        From playing paintball competitively I knew that this was all about controlling angles and slicing the pie and I came across an awesome training site called tactical preschool: link to tgace.com

        (I have no idea if that’ll work, and since there’s no edit function, here’s hoping!)

        Also, no more puns off my puny second comment? I’m working my way through the whole backlog here on RPS (Currently on page 2005), and I love all the puns that people make on games.

        • Richard_from_Winnipeg says:

          Flood method vs Slice the Pie

          link to tgace.com

        • Neoprofin says:

          I wouldn’t say either of these methods accurately describe what the US Army teaches for breaching in urban operations although the more interesting caveat to that would be that every unit and every NCO has their own twist on the right way to breach and the biggest component to the success of the operation is that the teams who perform operations like this spend a ludicrous amount of time practicing together until regardless of whether the 3rd man is the breacher and the 4th is rear guard or the 4th is the breacher etc. everyone knows exactly what they’re doing. I can say from experience the first time you try to put some of this stuff into practice it’s a monumental effort not to trip over your own two feet. I’d be cautious about standing outside the doors though, a lot of interior walls won’t do much to stop returning fire and once the door goes down it’s not hard to guess where you’re standing.

          • Philopoemen says:

            But it is very similar to LEO ops – where it’s about the 8 hours of prep followed by 30 secs of action.

            Milspec ops are a lot more fluid and with worse intelligence. That said, ROE are a lot looser too.

          • Neoprofin says:

            It really depends on the situation. In most cases military RoE follows a very strict escalation of force (Shout, Show, Shove, Shoot) and more often than not service members aren’t allowed to fire until fired upon. Part of this is adaptation to trying to patrol countries where the average farmer walks around casually with his AK. I think in that sense a lot of police departments have considerably more freedom to use force than the military. Of course if we’re talking Doorkickers, both forces come in fast and make apologies later.

  4. Catchcart says:

    Not yet but that’s some pretty good timing seeing as it’s on sale (75% off) over at the humble bundle store.

  5. Henas says:

    The game is available on the fondle bricks too, which feels like a natural home for it.

    It reminds me a lot of SWAT 2, which I adored.

  6. Banyan says:

    Having a scenario run perfectly with only the rare checkpoint key press to nudge it along combines the satisfaction of solving a fiendish puzzle with the delighted bemusement of an intricate Rube Goldberg machine. The 30 minutes getting to that point is pretty fun too.

  7. Hyena Grin says:

    I used to be a huge fan of real-time tactical games, so I grabbed this today, and seriously lost the entire day to this game. I didn’t even notice it happening.

    They did a good job of walking the line between giving the players a ton of control, and not making it too finnicky to enjoy playing. It is a rare thing when a game like this doesn’t make you feel like the game’s quirks are killing you rather than your own mistakes. Though these do happen (like when a stinger grenade somehow fails to make it around a door frame and kills you instead), and often enough to make me want to stay away from the Iron Man mode, it’s still 95% my own stupidity getting my guys killed. Which is nice. I guess.

    I do wish that they bothered to distinguish the ‘class’ models more. The only ones that really stand out are the shield (because shield) and stealth (for some reason it has orange?) classes. I found it tough to tell my characters apart.

    And finally, I was super disappointed when I discovered that my little team made up four female cops didn’t, like, have female voices. I guess I appreciate that there are even female portraits, but if you’re gonna go halfway there, you may as well get a few lines read by a lady.

    Anyway, thanks for the recommendation, this was a gem.

  8. Pizzzahut says:

    Looks like a Frozen Synapse ripoff?

    • Cederic says:

      Nah, it plays like a more fluid version of Laser Squad more than Frozen Synapse.

      In fact, other than being top down and involving guns, I’m struggling to really relate it to Frozen Synapse.

  9. baozi says:

    I’ve only been playing the single missions. I wish they’d made different choices when it comes to some of the controls. It’s easy to lose track of things when you want to move two characters that are standing close to each other and whose paths you want to diverge at one point – the lines should be color-coded or something like that. Or maybe I’m missing something. Other things should be made visually clearer too, IMO. Wonder why they didn’t modify standard RTS controls where you draw a selection and can easily move two people. It can be fun but I’m bad at it lol.

  10. Cederic says:

    I’m waiting for co-op so that I can buy a copy for my friend and properly screw up by expecting each other to cover that corner and occasionally fragging each other with a grenade.

    I mean, it was obvious I was going to sprint down that corridor, why would you grenade it?!