Remember the days when the horror genre was about suspense and atmosphere? About that ever-so-slight feeling that something horrible is going to happen at any moment, even though you have no idea what? The days when buckets of blood, guts and gore were the bread and butter of the cheesy b-movie, and not of the finely crafted horror story? The folks over at indie studio The Game Kitchen remember, and in their attempt to bring them back from beyond the veil of time, something even more terrifying and sinister crossed over. That thing is The Last Door.
The Last Door plays like a classic point-and-click game, but it is actually an interactive horror story inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It follows Jeremiah Devitt as he investigates the fate of his childhood friend – an investigation that leads him on the path to uncover dark secrets from the past. Being true to its Lovecraftian roots, the story does revolve around something horrible from beyond our reality, and unlike most modern horror games, it manages to be subtle about it, thus maintaining the fear of the unknown. Things can get a bit convoluted and a little too obscure as the story progresses, but The Last Door takes its time to build a dense atmosphere of dread and uncertainty that helps carry the game forward.
And that Atmosphere is really what makes this an unnerving and disturbing horror experience. It doesn’t rely on gore to shock the player, but instead walks the path set by classic survival horror titles and messes with the player’s head. The atmosphere is mostly established by the notes you find along the way; each note is expertly written to provide both narrative and unsettling imagery you can’t help but imagine. Of course, the very effective jump-scares the game throws at you from time to time do help as well, but by the end of the game you’ll probably learn to expect them; though that doesn’t mean they become any less disturbing.
The visuals and sound play an important role as well. The Last Door is what some will call “pixelated horror”, meaning the visuals are low-res and blocky, though still very effective. The game relies more on the player’s imagination than on the actual visuals. A crow is a black block of pixels vaguely shaped like a bird, that is detailed just enough to unmistakably be a crow that’s naturally pecking on something red and very dead. The Last Door doesn’t show you all the gory details, but it makes sure you know they are there. Add the chilling soundtrack and some very impressive sound effects, and you got yourself a few sleepless nights.
The Last Door is divided into four chapters, all included in the Collector’s Edition. Each chapter can stand on its own, while still maintaining the feeling of being a part of a bigger story. What connects the chapters is mostly the story, since Devitt starts each of them in a completely new environment, with none of the inventory items he had before. Still, the themes all chapters share bring the entire season together. The way the season is structured helps ease the player into the world of occult murders and strange entities from beyond the veil. The first episode seems like nothing more than a standard investigation, but by the second one, it is obvious that something unnatural is going on. The third chapter takes a sharp turn into the weird and surreal, making it the weakest of the bunch. By the time the season ends, you’ll be left with more questions than answers, leaving a lot of room for theories and speculations until season 2 comes along.
The game’s official PC release is titled The Last Door: Collector’s Edition. There isn’t much behind that title, since the game just includes the four chapters already released online, and a few bonus scenes. Yes, the game got a fresh coat of paint with slightly improved graphics and sound, but when you’re talking about pixelated horror, better graphics don’t mean all that much. The remastered sound is a nice touch, though. The bonus scenes are pretty short, but a couple of them are really interesting and shed more light about the events towards the end of the game, making them slightly less obscure. All in all, The Last Door is less of a collector’s item and more of a complete game, simple as that.
Considering that The Last Door: Collector’s Edition is a fairly short experience (you can get through all four chapters in about 3 hours), and most of it is already available online for free, it’s a bit hard to recommend. On the other hand, this is a great horror adventure game with some challenging puzzles, unique story and an amazing atmosphere few modern games offer. If you decided to play the game online, know that you’ll still need to pay to gain access to the final chapter, so why not just get the Collector’s Edition, enjoy some secrets and bonus scenes, and open the door for an indie game studio with a bright future?Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.