I found The Last Door on accident.
I was browsing through the r/horror subreddit, looking for something Lovecraft-themed to scratch a particular itch I’d been having lately. As a proud horror junkie I saw a lot of familiar names on the lists of recommendations but kept looking just in case there was something I had missed and found recommended a free to play game that, as one commenter put it, left him “thoroughly heebie-jeebied.”
Well, if it was Lovecraftian and free-to-play, so I figured “what the heck?” and clicked the link. What transpired after that, dear readers, was a night and a half of some of the best examples of atmospheric horror I’ve ever seen in gaming, and that’s some damned fine praise for a point-and-click adventure with pixelated graphics straight out of the 90’s.
behold, the graphics of terror!
The game’s graphics are pretty basic but effective with a lot of help from the game’s absolutely awesome soundtrack. Before playing the game, a screen advises you to play it in the dark and wearing headphones and I whole-heartedly agree. From the jump scares with their sudden strike of chords to the background noises and eerie soundtrack, the game’s music and effectively used imagery will suck you into the game’s world and leave you wondering just what god-forsaken horror is waiting for you at the end of story. Tension is always high and the end of each episode offers no release, only tantalizing clues of the horrible truth lying in wait behind the scenes, forcing players to keep playing and keep feeling the tension rise higher and higher.
even when you meet other characters, you will always feel alone
Unfortunately, this brings us to the game’s two weak points. The first is the gameplay and the second is the story itself.
Like I said, the game is a point-and-click style adventure in a series of episodes, each episode taking place at a different level and with different puzzles to solve to advance the story. The game may have great atmosphere but it suffers from the common “Moon Logic” problem when it comes to puzzle-solving and it can be quite frustrating.
Players will navigate through the levels and miss plot-important items due to the pixelated graphics, or at least I did. One example was in the first episode where I needed a key to pass through a locked door. I searched through the entire abandoned mansion maybe three times only to realize (after cheating and checking a walkthrough) I had passed by the key, an item maybe three pixels large, several times without realizing.
Other times, it will take a while for players to read the developer’s mind on what solutions are supposed to work. I figure a lot of other players will break down and use a walkthrough like me and realize why games like these died out in the first place!
The second problem isn’t really a whole problem, maybe half of one, at least this far into the game’s development and that’s the story.
The game’s story is told through a series of episodes which are further organized into seasons. Each episode offers tantalizing hints of what horrible evil is lurking behind the events of the game but so far, with one season concluded and the next in development, the game’s story leaves more questions than answers. Each episode adds a new clue but doesn’t resolve much and the actual season finale just feels like another episode instead of the conclusion of some part of the story. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it does leave the impression that the developers want to drag out the mystery as long as possible. This can be a good thing if properly executed but its easy to bungle with an unsatisfactory ending that doesn’t live up to the hype. See the finale of Lost.
i don’t know what’s behind that mist, but i know its not great
The characters are also pretty thin, with only the barest motivations or development. If I had to name a favorite character, I’d say it’s the games setting. A creepy, corrupted Great Britain in full 1890’s gothic mode with decayed slums, abandoned mansions of horror, and boy’s schools converted into hospitals for the dead and dying.
All in all, the game may have its weaknesses but the haunting atmosphere and awesome scenes of horror more than make up for any short comings. After all, how many times can players get to play out their character’s own suicide?
that wasn’t a joke, you play out a man’s suicide. See why I love this game?
The Last Door is free to play for the first three episodes of season one, with the season finale behind a paywall so far. Season two is in developement. Please, anybody who reads this, support these awesome developers!