The Last Door Review: Point, Click, Scare
A pervasive, oppressive atmosphere is the hallmark of horror title The Last Door, and the way through which the game manages to create and maintain that atmosphere so completely is its best feature.
As a point-and-click adventure game, The Last Door lacks some of the basic elements that action-adventure horror titles enjoy. The player character is never really in any danger; you’ll never find yourself being eaten by a zombie with a gory “You Died!” message drifting over the screen in a game that’s about clicking around the screen to find interactive elements.
But to its credit, The Last Door uses its low-res graphical style, powerful sound design and ever-present atmospheric dread to be just as scary as those other games. It’s a title that understands how to do horror, even if the supernatural mystery it builds through its first four chapters — which constitute the first “season” of The Last Door — leaves something to be desired.
The Last Door
Platform: PC (Reviewed)
Developer: The Game Kitchen
Publisher: Phoenix Online Publishing
Release Date: May 20, 2014 (Steam release)
MSRP: $9.99 (Collector’s Edition)
Available: GoG.com, Official website, Steam
Wearing clear literary influences like Lovecraft and Poe, The Last Door tells the story of Jeremiah Devitt, who receives a letter from a childhood friend in Victorian England. The letter is coded with a message Devitt remembers from the secret fraternity the men formed while in school. Sensing some kind of need in his friend, Devitt sets out for the man’s home — and finds the place seemingly abandoned and empty.
The rest of the story has players working to solve the mystery of what happened in Devitt’s past, some of which he can’t seem to remember. What he discovers in the manor in the first episode of The Last Door sends him back to the school, now a convent, to uncover his memories and more information about what he and the other boys discovered there. Throughout the story, as Devitt is led deeper and deeper into strange supernatural happenings, he seems hunted more and more by a sinister force.
The Last Door is presented in episodes, and that serves the game in keeping it short and easy to parse, much like other solid adventure offerings like The Walking Dead. Playing the game in short bursts helps keep everything manageable, and helps to prevent puzzles from becoming unwieldy. The drawback is that it can be tough to remember exactly what’s going on after leaving The Last Door for a while, and I found it easier to go through the entire title in one burst than try to remember everything I’d already done.
Throughout the game, players go through the normal adventure-style mechanics. You’ll click on everything to get information about it, pick up various items whose uses are not immediately obvious, and then combine those items with other interactive elements to solve puzzles and move on. Mostly the puzzles make sense, and it’s only once in a while that The Last Door slips into the esoteric weirdness that seems to permeate this genre.