tue 18/06/2019

The Last Door - Collector's Edition | reviews, news & interviews

The Last Door - Collector's Edition

The Last Door - Collector's Edition

A retro adventure that plays with your imagination

Pseudo-8-bit graphics best suited to a small screen

The Last Door is a game out of time. Its point 'n' click adventuring has a retro feel matched by deceptively simple, pseudo-8-bit graphics and an almost total lack of handholding. You are instantly dropped into the game's prologue with no tutorial and no indication as to what you need to do. It's just your blocky avatar in a room with some objects. What now?

The way that intro plays out is disturbing, even given the faux-primitive presentation and goes a long way to establishing the gloomy atmosphere that envelops the game. Prologue complete, you play Jeremiah Devitt, a young Victorian gentleman who is investigating the disappearance of a childhood friend. As you uncover more details about your friend’s fate and the events that lead him to it, you embark on a journey full of peril and encroaching dread.

The Last DoorIf you have played any of the classic point ‘n’ click games like Monkey Island, Sam & Max Hit The Road or Broken Sword, then the manner of your investigations will be very familiar. You move around pre-drawn backgrounds by tapping the screen to make your avatar walk to a location and tapping objects and characters to interact with them. Some objects can be collected and combined with others or used in various ways to solve puzzles and gain entry to new areas. All of this is rendered in charmingly chunky low-resolution graphics which are ironically even more primitive looking than the classic games The Last Door is riffing on.

The typical indie game fan might be forgiven for rolling her eyes at the prospect of playing another game with fake ‘retro’ graphics but, in this case, 8-bit visuals are an inspired choice. The Last Door is heavily influenced, like many horror games, by the works of HP Lovecraft. Unlike many of their peers however, the makers of The Last Door understand that Lovecraft is all about the suggestion of horror and the way your imagination will fill in the gaps to conjure something much worse than the author - or the programmer - can produce themselves. By boiling the visuals down to a handful of coloured pixels and the odd bit of descriptive text there are plenty of gaps that need filling but the game’s heavy atmospherics and excellent sound design give your imagination a helping hand.

There are some genuine shocks and jump scares in The Last Door. They don’t hold up at all seen out of context but in the moment... let’s just say that after a certain point in the first episode you might be a little more wary around crows. The game is very good at conjuring a sense of unease through clever lighting and sound cues and you can never quite escape the feeling that something awful is just around the next corner.

It’s not all good news. The puzzles are quite simple and barring a few notable exceptions tend towards fetch and carry tasks with only one solution. Non-player characters are mostly sketches with a few lines and exist only in their designated location as gatekeepers or things to be manipulated. You can talk to some of them but dialogue is very basic and closer to a Choose Your Own Adventure title than the rich, story-shaping conversations of something like Tell Tale’s The Walking Dead.

The Last DoorThe low-fi visuals are better suited to a small screen. Playing on a mobile is mostly fine but on a tablet everything is blown up to the point of near illegibility. Even on a smaller screen some objects are just coloured blobs, which makes finding and using them more of a challenge than you suspect the developers had in mind.

If you can ignore these flaws then The Last Door is an enjoyable adventure with a strong story and lots of atmosphere that is well worth the sub-£3 asking price. As the first episode is downloadable for free there really is no excuse not to give it a try. Go on. Don’t be afraid.

 


...you can never quite escape the feeling that something awful is just around the next corner

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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