The Last Door – Season One (Chapter 1-4) – Pixelated horror-mystery – Review

Gare – Thursday, February 20, 2014 8:33 PM
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It is not every day that a game begins with the player guiding his character through the slow but all the more depressing motions of suicide – and yet, The Last Door uses it to give a very clear message as to what sort of tale about the tell. The Game Kitchen’s pixelated horror-adventure – originally funded via Kickstarter – has recently finished off its first season of four episodes, giving us a good opportunity to do a collective review based on our experiences with this low-budget mystery.

Story, that will leave you hunger for more

The Last Door, the developers tell us, was heavily inspired by the works of classic authors such as Edgar Allan Poe or H.P. Lovecraft. The game places us in the role of Jeremiah Devitt, a 19th century gentleman going to visit his old friend after receiving a highly alarming letter from him – naturally, the player is already aware of the friend’s demise – for it is the man that committed suicide in the opening –, and as such, the mystery revolves more around figuring out what happened to the friend and why exactly he chose to die this way. And this is where I have to point out that, despite the intriguing premise, those longing for a clear-cut conclusion by the end of Season One might find themselves slightly disappointed by the end of journey. As the first four chapters of The Last Door merely make up the first of – hopefully many – seasons of the tale, these four short stories, even after playing them one after the other without stopping, feel as if they are merely the prologue to things to come. Even as I watched the credits of the fourth and currently latest episode, I had the strong feeling that everything I had played through up to this point was merely a buildup to second season, where the story will – hopefully – begin to take shape. The dark menace that overshadows the lives of the protagonist and his friends is only vaguely mentioned, and by the end of the season, the tale will leave you with more questions than answers – it did, however, make me crave the fifth episode with a passion, so there’s that. For those interested, let me also say that the entire season is roughly 4-5 hours in length (with each episode taking an hour on average), which is a satisfying length by indie point and click adventure standards, especially when we consider that the first three episodes are already available for free, with players only being required to donate in order to unlock the season finale.

Minimalistic visual style

Although the game, as evidenced by the screenshots, offers little in terms of visuals, this never truly bothered me all that much. Naturally, many of you may feel concerned that such a visual style might make it impossible to find all the necessary clues and items in the environment. Surprisingly enough, this doesn’t become much of an issue, at least in my experience: by diligently sliding the mouse over some of the more notable corners of each room, I was able to find all the necessary hotspots, and rarely did I ever miss out on a key item to be picked up. What also deserves praise is The Last Door’s atmosphere, bringing to life the moody and gloomy 19th century England, accompanied by a masterfully composed soundtrack from Carlos Viola, providing tunes reminiscent of Scratches or even the Gabriel Knight franchise. It happens rarely that a soundtrack would be such a powerful and dominant tool in really bringing the player into the game world – as such, I can only congratulate the composer of The Last Door for being so successful in breathing life into a world that, at the end of the day, is basically built from oversized pixels. I do also have to mention, however, that the game does include a number of jump scares – thankfully, these don’t happen often enough to truly become an annoyance, but those who do not favor this kind of method of scaring the player will have to brace themselves for a few sudden piano chords during the journey.

An odd puzzle here and there

On the puzzle front, The Last Door is a fairly balanced affair. The tasks to be solved are most definitely not dull to the point of inducing repeated yawns, and might even result in a few players getting stuck here and there; ultimately, however, I never felt that they would be cruelly difficult, either. Players that take the time to not rush through each location in the game will easily find the items needed to proceed and naturally piece together what exactly needs to be done with them and where. The puzzles are consequently satisfying without entering the realm of hopeless frustration. This, however, is not constantly the case: on a few occasions, I did find some of the puzzles oddly irrational, forcing players to do things that most would never even consider – for example, that one puzzle in Chapter 4 involving a dead deer in the forest. I’m sure at least a good portion of players went “What? Really?” at that point. Thankfully, this is not the general trend and I was overall happy with Season One’s puzzles both in terms of content and difficulty.

A story that hasn’t really finished yet…

In summary, The Last Door provides a pretty good point and click experience that I had a decent amount of fun with – although it is indeed difficult drawing any conclusions about a story that hasn’t really finished yet. Despite an odd puzzle here and there and the fact that the tale is currently incomplete, The Last Door is a solid indie title for horror/mystery fans that just oozes atmosphere – as such, I am very much looking forward to what The Game Kitchen will cook up next in Season Two, coming this summer.

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