The Last Door
In years to come, it's very possible that Spain will be remembered for leading a resurgence of point and click adventure games. Spearheading the charge we have The Game Kitchen and their Lovecraftian graphic adventure The Last Door. I stepped into the 19th Century shoes of fearless philosopher Jeremiah Devitt, and got to some spooky investigating!
In stark contrast to the majority of graphic adventures that focus on humour, The Last Door kicks off with a suicide. This untimely death not only sets the wheels in motion for an occult investigation, but also sets the tone for the entire game. Darkness pervades from the outset, and things generally don't get any better for our luckless protragonist.
The recently deceased happens to be an old schoolfriend of Jeremiah, and his last act before shuffling off this mortal coil is to send a letter summoning Jeremiah to his house. Upon his arrival and grisly discovery, Jeremiah sets out to determine exactly why his friend took his own life, and this journey leads him to the edge of murder, madness and mind-numbing terror.
Ranging across four chapters, the investigation moves from Scottish boarding schools, Aberdeen, the back streets of London and country mansions. The sense of dread is palpable throughout and although there are a couple of jump-scare moments, the whole game really hangs on understated atmosphere. Walking through a seemingly abandoned house while eerie laughter echoes, or investigating a sewer that rings with a ghostly lullaby are just a couple of the thoroughly creepy situations that Jeremiah finds himself in. While not out-and-out terrifying, the story causes a low level feeling of nervousness that starts to take its toll after a while.
The tale is well told, spinning a yarn of four intelligent and adventurous boarding school friends meddling with things beyond their ken, and the consequences in their later lives. The pacing is good, and the story contains just about the right balance weirdness to keep the player interested without overdoing it.
Graphically speaking, the game shows how minimalist pixel art should be done. The characters and backgrounds are very lo-fi, but still manage to convey a huge amount of personality and detail. Each location feels distinct and interesting, be it a foggy London alley or a nun's chamber. The soundtrack by Carlos Viola also contributes greatly to the atmosphere of the game, lending an understated menace to the proceedings, lightened with some beautiful but melancholy piano pieces.
The puzzles are more or less straightforward if you pay attention to the environment and read the copious amounts of notes and diary entries left around the place. Some people may say that the puzzles are too easy, but I personally found that they hit the sweet spot of making me think, but not go running for a walkthrough out of frustration. This common sense approach to puzzle design also allows the story to proceed at a fair clip, meaning that I never got bored. Total runtime is quite short; I finished in 3 hours give or take but that three hours was all killer. I'd rather a short and punchy experience over a drawn out affair any day.
In short then, The Last Door is a creepy, understated point and click adventure that will leave you wishing that there was more, not less. You can play for free here, but I really recommend that you get the Special Edition here.