The Last Door

Spain

The Last Door is an intriguing point & click mystery game that I first discovered while still working for Rely on Horror. It had a tumultuous development history, as it started as a crowdfunded, episodic series until that business model could no longer sustain the developers. Season 2 dropped crowdfunding and went into early access, and like with so many other EA games, I just kind of lost track of it after that. Now that the games are complete and formally released, I was eager to rediscover the series and head back into 19th century England.

The eye sees all

The story follows Jeremiah Devitt, a young man living in late 19th century England who once attended a boarding school in Scotland. There he made friends with a group of curious individuals, who started a bit of a secret society. Years later, after the school has long since closed, Jeremiah is regularly attending a psychiatrist to deal with bizarre dreams. That is, until he receives a worrying letter from his old friend Anthony, a fellow member of his old society.

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As Jeremiah sets out to find out what happened to his friend, he soon finds himself faced with the occult as his actions back in his school days now haunt him. Mysterious forces are watching over him, guiding him to an unknown and frightening destiny. While he set out to help an old friend, it soon becomes apparent that perhaps not all friends should be trusted.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah’s psychiatrist Dr. Wakefield is investigating his patient’s worrying state and, through a German friend, learns about the occult entities that are trying to harm Jeremiah. As our protagonist sets out on his travels, Dr. Wakefield takes over as the main character for much of season 2.

The mystery and characters of The Last Door are plenty intriguing early on and I completed all of season 1 in a single session. However, the game doesn’t maintain its momentum very well and I found myself losing interest as I started on season 2. Episodes began feeling overly long and I began to experience any puzzle hampering my progress as an annoyance rather than a challenge. I still wanted answers to the mystery, but it felt like I was asked to do too much work for too little reward.

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In the meantime, a lot of scenes felt like they were cheapening the experience. When the story has you meet curious individuals and creates a dense mystery that includes references to real-world events like the Boer Wars, that is when the story is at its strongest. Despite these excellent qualities, however, they also felt tempted to include a sidekick character that speaks in gratuitous German, and lengthy scenes that feel like story sequences, but actually only serve to set up a jumpscare.

Story score: 5.5/10

People should lock their doors

The game is a point & click puzzle game in which each episode poses some challenge to overcome. One episode, for example, will have Jeremiah arrive at his old school only to find it turned into a hospital where many patients are dying. You then start solving puzzles to slowly unlock parts of the hospital and gain allies, eventually permitting him to meet somebody in charge that can help him and unravel the truth behind the deaths.

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The puzzle solving in this game is quite agreeable. You have an inventory at the bottom of the screen where you can click an item to make it active, then use it on the environment or characters to proceed. All items are useful and interactive elements are easy to spot as your cursor lights up when hovering over them. There is a bit of combining to be done in the inventory, but the game, in my experience, always avoids the dreaded moon logic that haunts many other games in the genre. Just ask Stian for his opinions on that.

It’s rarely too difficult to figure out how to proceed. Instead, the challenge often lies in actually having all the prerequisites for it. While items are highlighted, some are super tiny or hidden within other items. A good example is a set of gloves hidden within a coat. You find coat racks all over the game and can always ignore them, but here you have to click on it twice to find an item that is essential to your quest. I definitely had moments where I would have to run circles around the level in a desperate bid to find something I missed.

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Season 2 makes this process even more obnoxious, as it takes the game away from the secluded environments of the first season. You have to explore even larger places, but also get a map from which you travel to different parts of the city, all of which demand exploration and have mandatory items to gather. The traveling can be frustrating and is compounded by the slow movement speed. You can double-click on a room to immediately warp to the next room, but doorways aren’t always immediately visible and you aren’t always allowed to use this feature anyway.

The puzzles can be great when properly contextualized. There is one I enjoyed where you are trying to dress up a mannequin like a woman to help a struggling musician, those kind of puzzles are great. On the flipside, the game does fall back on glorified fetch quests in some cases and especially so in season 2. You find an item, bring it to 1 person, you get something that helps you talk to somebody else, that opens up a door somewhere. Or how about puzzles where items and secret passages just kind of “appear” somewhere in odd parts of the level.

Gameplay score: 5/10

Questionable pixels

The art-style for The Last Door is an elegant one. Using a pixelated aesthetic, the team at The Game Kitchen has managed to create a beautiful interpretation of old-timey England, but it does come at some cost. The retro look is put to good use and especially large objects like trees look beautiful and enjoy a lot of details like shading and color transitions. Smaller objects, however, are hard to distinguish and can, at times, blend into the backgrounds due to clutter or darkness.

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Because this is a considerably dark game. A lot of areas are just hard to distinguish and oftentimes the game forces you to move through spaces with a candle, lantern, or other light sources to proceed, which vastly limit how much you can see. Characters can also be hard to keep apart in this limited art-style, though I will admit they manage to pull off some impressive cutscenes and the game features excellent animations and ambiance.

The sountrack was provided by one Carlos Viola and he created the perfect music to fit the eerie setting. Sound-design as a whole is a major victory for The Last Door, especially when it’s setting up a scare.

Presentation score: 7/10

Verdict

The Good:

  • A strong first season that draws you in with its mystery.
  • The art-style works well for cutscenes and larger objects.
  • Great music and sound.

The Bad:

  • The mystery peters out quickly once season 2 starts.
  • Lots of moving back-and-forth with slow movement.
  • Items that are hard to see and puzzles vary in quality.
  • Characters aren’t very memorable.

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