The Last Door –

$3.21

SKU: 95292708c98e Categories: ,

Description

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Complete Review & Description

Choice can be an engaging aspect of interactive narratives, but in the opening scene of The Last Door, Spanish developers The Game Kitchen succinctly demonstrate that a lack of choice can be equally as interesting. “After all the things I’ve seen” reads the opening line of a suicide note as an attic scene in a stately 19th century mansion fades into view, and control of Anthony Beechworth is handed over to you. You can search his draws, look for an exit, but the only real decision you get to make here is how long you delay approaching the only obvious exit in the room and hang that rope slumped in the middle of the floor from the rafters.
Both currently available chapters of The Last Door are accented by a few moments like this – shocking and morbid instances that help sustain the unnerving sense of foreboding that permeates every facet of this pixelated love letter to the literature of HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe. But their presence often gives way to more traditional Point and Click adventuring, solidly constructed on the foundations of games like King’s Quest and Beneath a Steel Sky, but bearing the rough edges of decade’s old game design.
Puzzle’s mostly boil down to the classic find item, use it in the appropriate environmental location, gain more items, gameplay loop. And like the early genre progenitors The Last Door is built upon, missing one crucially interactive environmental detail can spin out these sub-hour long chapters into exercises of left mouse button scene scouring, as you systematically search for any pixel that suggests interactivity.

Such design could easily have descended into tedium, but The Game Kitchen’s puzzles are simple one or two step affairs, with a mostly sound internal logic – morphine can be used to subdue someone in great pain, paint thinner combined with a cloth to reveal the secret of a fresh painting, but why a broken shard of glass can’t be used to cut a cloth drape shall forever remain a misleading mystery.
Of the two currently available chapters, the first one, titled The Letter, suffers least from such frustrations. It’s a half hour jaunt through Beechworth’s eerily quiet mansion as his old school friend, Jeremiah Devitt, slowly unravels a tightly constructed, suspenseful slice of storytelling. Each solved puzzle reveals artefacts that subtly hint at Beechworth’s affliction, whilst suggesting a deeper, sinister overture.
The Last Door’s low-fi, blocky visual style is used to excellent effect here, as the simple, slightly unclear art design invites your mind to concoct a plethora of potential horrors. A splotch of black and red blocks intended to represent a murder of scavenging crows, writhing on the lawn of Beechworth’s mansion, for example, is a disturbingly unceremonious reveal when you first saunter into the scene as the top hat donned Devitt. It’s only later when the crows have abandoned their meal that you can make out their prey – a cannibalised crow.

Chapter two, Memories, set in the remote Scottish boarding school where Beechworth and Devitt became friends, is more ambitious than the first, introducing conversations with NPC’s and a few more complex forms of interaction. But this greater ambition leads to slower storytelling, weakening the most appealing aspect of The Last Door as a thrilling, nightmarish end sequence very effectively reminds, once again extoling the narrative power of withholding agency in well thought out circumstances.
The only real decision that The Last Door gives you is whether or not you wish to contribute a small sum to its continued development. Chapter one is currently free, having been developed on the back of a modest and successful Kickstarter, and it’s a succinct, effective, if sometimes frustratingly old-fashioned taster of what you can expect in the paid second episode. How much you want to pay for that second episode is left up to you, but perhaps the highest praise The Last Door can be given is that this humble, focussed vignette of classic videogame design is worth more than many games with loftier, misguided ambitions.

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