The Last Door Review

The Last Door exhibits a few frustrating relics of adventure game design, but it also weaves an unsettling tale of insanity and psychological horror.

You have no choice. His mind is made up. When you begin The Last Door, each click of your mouse brings a tortured soul one step closer to taking his own life. There's little you can do but reluctantly click forward, knowing that each click will bring poor Beechworth one step closer to the end, as he gets the chair in position, and the noose, and then himself. Your participation in this tragic and desperate act makes for a harrowing opening to this point-and-click adventure, and though pixel hunts and antiquated puzzle designs sometimes pull you out of the moment, The Last Door largely manages to sustain an unsettling atmosphere of psychological disturbance throughout its currently available first two chapters.

Jeremiah Devitt has a relatively nondescript appearance.

With Beechworth promptly out of the picture, you play as his old boarding school chum Jeremiah Devitt, who visits his late friend's estate after receiving a mysterious letter from him. The letter references the science and philosophy group Beechworth and Devitt were members of in their school years, and Devitt immediately suspects that something terrible has happened. Beechworth's mansion, like every environment in The Last Door, is low-resolution to the point where picture frames on a table are represented by a few squiggles of pixels and faces on large paintings are monochromatic squares.

Given the game's focus on psychological horror, this visual style is often quite effective; your imagination, aided by some chilling sound effects, fills in the gaps, turning some slightly animated black shapes into a menacing murder of crows. But with such a lack of detail comes a need for the game to communicate certain things clearly, such as the locations of objects you need, and here, it sometimes stumbles. In one case, for instance, a necessary item sitting on a table is indicated by just a few pixels that are a slightly different color than the table beneath them. Your cursor lights up when you hover over anything you can examine or interact with, but in cases like this one, the cursor also glows in response to adjacent objects and there's no indication when you move from one object to the next. As a result, you might walk into and out of rooms containing things you need several times before you stumble upon the existence of these objects.

Go ahead, take the dying crow. You never know when one of those will come in handy.

What you're expected to do with those things also sometimes defies understanding. At one point, you end up carrying a dying crow around, and although what you ultimately do with that crow has a sort of old-fashioned adventure game logic, it makes no sense that your character would do it, since he couldn't possibly foresee the beneficial result that it brings about. It's unfortunate that the puzzles you encounter aren't always more believably grounded in the game's haunting narrative.

That narrative, however, and the foreboding feeling the game conjures as you delve into its mysteries, entice you to persevere past these foibles and venture into the encroaching gloom. In Beechworth's mansion, the setting of the first chapter, there's an immediate, slightly unnerving sense that things aren't quite right, and as you find letters scrawled by servants and work your way deeper into the estate's secluded chambers, a chilling sense of the affliction that drove Beechworth to take his own life starts to form in your mind. Watching your pixelated hero hold aloft a lantern as he steps down shadowy hallways is a reminder that games don't need state-of-the-art graphics to make you hold your breath, that sometimes the things we imagine might be lurking in the dark are more unsettling than the things we see.

Is Devitt simply haunted by memories of the past, or is it something more sinister that troubles him?

The Last Door's second chapter has Devitt's investigation taking him to the boarding school he and Beechworth attended as boys, and as he starts digging in the events of the past, the vaguely ominous feeling that permeates the first chapter escalates into something closer to dread. Flashbacks begin to suggest that Devitt has repressed certain memories of the past, and that his psyche is straining as a result of the horrors he witnessed. The storytelling starts taking detours into the hallucinatory, making you share in Devitt's fear and confusion as he struggles to uncover and confront the truth that haunts him and that drove Beechworth over the edge. Throughout it all, excellent sound effects--the rapid, shallow breathing of a terrified man, the unmistakable sound of nails being hammered into a coffin--complement the visuals, lending the events and locations of this chapter a vivid immediacy that's in no way hindered by the lack of visual detail.

Thus far, only the first two chapters of The Last Door are available, and it remains to be seen just where Devitt's attempts to uncover the past and excavate his own buried memories will lead. But this web-based adventure game is off to a promisingly frightening start. The Last Door is all the more engrossing for the ways in which its visuals encourage your own imagination to play a part in creating its horrors.

The Good
Story creates a building feeling of dread
Some excellent use of sound effects
Engages your imagination with its low-resolution psychological horror
The Bad
Necessary items can sometimes be hard to spot
The game-y logic of some puzzles contrasts with the narrative
7
Good
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73 comments
snugglebear
snugglebear

Didn't expect to see a review for this. There are so many adventure games like this one that I'd more think to see this article on Jay Is Games or Nordinho. Either way, I played the first chapter for free and I had a lot of fun with it. There was only one annoying moment where the muddiness of the graphics made my objective hard, and it involved a ladder. 

icewindy
icewindy

what the crappy graphic.

emerin76
emerin76

I love those graphics!  People thinking these aren't better than the 80s...just look at the amount of colours.  What did the C64 have?  16 colours?  The pallete they've used is alot more that 16 colours...whatever. 

Gamingtrevor
Gamingtrevor

It seems everyone here cares so much about something I could give so little sh*t about; graphics.  If you're playing games for graphics, go watch a big dumb Hollywood movie.  Games are about pulling you into an environment, and don't have to look photo-realistic.  I play StarFox, I don't care that I'm not really a fox.  I don't care that the world they're in is void of curved lines.  If the gameplay is solid, I become emerged, regardless of the art style.  Not every game has to meet your expectations on how it should look, and if they did, you'd be disappointed by every title that isn't A++.  If you don't like the look of of, don't play it.  I'll probably be picking this up.

jonnybutler11
jonnybutler11

I played the first chapter for free and hey I love it so far, I won't be pledging anything on kickstarter because these chaps aren't exactly bringing anything new to the table but I'm very looking forward to the next chapters, because the story and setting/atmosphere have great potential. Great review as always Carolyn!

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

Being biased towards indie games no matter how crappy is doing a great disservice to whole indie community. (here I'm commenting on graphics, haven't played it, but graphics got put into "the good" here too which is simply insane) This kind of graphics wouldn't get positive reviews even in 80' of past century. There is one thing for nostalgia and art another is for laziness. Also, giving indie games higher score (and much higher at that) must stop. Sooner or later ppl will realize that as much as it might seem noble and Indie games deserve our support, this just makes the whole idea giving games score void. If a game with shitty music, graphics, gameplay, whatever, gets high score, or a big higher score just because it's indie, then it's only confusing instead of providing a comparison.

Bottom line, you can make beautiful indie game on budget if you really WANT to. Or you can keep making crappy titles hoping to get away because it's a fad to praise indie games these years (wonder why wasn't it like this few years back, huh? MAYBE because back then, games like this wouldn't even qualify for 3.0... just a guess here).

Necrotron
Necrotron

Love it when GameSpot finds the time for  the staff to review the unsung indie titles. :)

blueinheaven
blueinheaven

If people really want to play games that look like someone shat on their screen why don't they just buy a NES and be done with it. I really don't know why anyone would bother reviewing this shit either.

There are excellent adventure games out there that don't look like they were drawn by a five year old. I really don't get this crap about forgiving absymal graphics just because the game is 'indie'.

If a big publisher released a game that looked that bad the score would be 1 regardless of how good the game is. Hypocrites.

raiden-94
raiden-94

Can someone tell me why there are still idiots making these games when we're in 2013?

Barazon
Barazon

If you're going to review a game, could you maybe indicate what platform it is being published on, or at least the one on which you reviewed it?

Taoran_Prince
Taoran_Prince

It's FREE. Did you forget to mention that? Or did I miss it?

Aphyosemion
Aphyosemion

I can see making a retro-style game, but I am not quite getting why they made the graphics THIS bad.  It looks like frigging Colecovision.  Anyone remember those?  I mean, at least give me SuperNintendo!  Sheesh!

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@emerin76 Oh, please? So what is that you're trying to sell here? That C64 is all there was in the 80s? NES and Amiga had more colours than that. Still, as much as you'd like to split hair here, let's face it, here they had all the current tech and none of the legacy limitations and all they could do is making crappy graphics.
Even in monochrome the games from that time had more style. Now, coming back to today, it's 2013, and this game is getting 7 and is praised for graphics, this is ridiculous.
But remember, Denial is just a river in Egypt :<.

blueinheaven
blueinheaven

@shenhua1337 Some of the wilful denial on display in this particular review is mind-boggling almost to the point of making the review as much a laughing stock as the game. For instance in the 'bad' section: 'Necessary items can sometimes be hard to spot' lol no shit Sherlock a videogame with hilariously bad graphics lacks any kind of visual detail wow who'd 've thunk it.

emerin76
emerin76

@blueinheaven maybe some people just want to live a new adventure and not repeat the old...just a guess

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@blueinheaven I guess many ppl want to be hip so badly they get delusional. Since when bad graphics equals style? To me it's not about the money put into the engine, you can make fine graphics in 3D, 2D and not always on a AAA budget. I've seen some games with simple YET artistically pleasing graphics. Making a game with outlines of mosaic is just lazy. It's 2013 and there are plenty of ways to make a decent looking game even for indie devs.

tektrader
tektrader

@blueinheaven I posted a reply very similar to your own a few months ago about a game very much like this one. I was BLASTED for thinking that, in 2013, games shouldn't look like they're from 1990. Like you, I do NOT understand this "craze" at all. 

At the very least, they should have two review sections: "Games" and "Indie Games". Giving Indie games the same rating as a truly great game from this century irritates me beyond belief. 

Pacer8888
Pacer8888

@raiden-94 Because people like them and enjoy them, not every game has to be graphic card busting, scripted as fuck, narrow blockbuster you know.

red666devil
red666devil

@raiden-94 A game is bigger than just the graphics used. Idiots like you will never understand the process, work and effort behind making a game.

Killermonkey97
Killermonkey97

@Barazon She DOES mention how it's web-based in her review. While I'm sure there's a lot of technology these days that have interwebs, I'd think that would hint at PC availability.

ESB
ESB

@Barazon On the top of the page there's a header and the platform (PC) is ticked there. I agree that it should be indicated more obviously (like in the title of the article) though.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@Barazon Second line of the review: "each click of your mouse..."

I think that is a hint!

Killermonkey97
Killermonkey97

@Taoran_Prince She mentions how there's "two chapters available." I guess you could imply that they are free until the next few chapters, if it's how this kind of free game works.

jj2112
jj2112

@Aphyosemion Colecovision! I loved how you had to insert the appropriate card for each game into the controller.

penpusher
penpusher

@Aphyosemion The graphics are fine, there's good reason for the choice. The game is a psychological horror, as well as a throwback ,and more basic graphics leave more to your imagination. I imagine there's also the practical side of it to, since basic graphics mean they can churn out new content quickly, but without risking the quality of the end product.

emerin76
emerin76

@shenhua1337 Hi,

Selling nothing.  Just that the highest selling home computer of the 80s, the C64, would not have been capable of replicating these graphics.  While the NES did have something like 48 colours, that too would struggle to recreate this.  Just check out the lighting.  The Amiga, well we know that was in a league of it's own and more than capable. ( I love the Amiga)

I'll have to disagree with you on the monochrome games having more style.  But we're kind of debating art here.  Some people like classical music, others don't.  Fair enough.

The reason one would create in this style would be personal preference.  Why use oil paints when you can use acrylics? *shrugg* Personal preference.

Nowhere in the article are the graphics praised or mentioned that they're 'good'. 
Somehow I feel you're personally insulted by this article.  Sorry to hear that, and I hope you get over it.

blueinheaven
blueinheaven

@tektrader @blueinheaven I honestly don't know how this all started. Indie games like these have always been around yet it seems they are now treated by gaming sites as exalted gems of the videogames scene and of course in true 'monkey see monkey do' fashion the readers latch on to it and it all gets out of control.

I'm going to make a text adventure and send it to Gamespot and IGN for review. If it doesn't get a 9 I'm going to be really pissed off.

blueinheaven
blueinheaven

@TomMcShea @blueinheaven I'm not as blown away by Crysis as half the modern world seems to be in fact I'm not a big FPS fan. Just saying it's weird how indie devs get away with graphics that look like a sort of random splat on the screen just because they're indie.

And, er... I totally didn't have to google Cevat Yerli to find out who he is. Nope. *cough*.

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@Pacer8888 @raiden-94 Good graphics is about aesthetics not about how taxing it is on the system. And all the same, you can make beautiful graphics with low sys reqs if you are not lazy. Look at how things looked in the past. Fuck, even the original Contra or Mario Bros not to mention Dyna Blaster look tons better than this pixel mosaic crap... This game would score low graphic rating back then and should today too.

blueinheaven
blueinheaven

@red666devil @raiden-94 Newsflash: it's possible to have a brilliant game with great graphics the two aren't mutually exclusive. You don't have to put up with horrible graphics unless you want to appear 'cool and indie' to people you don't know on the internet.

fakharakhtar362
fakharakhtar362

@red666devil All the PC gamers on X1 and PS4 articles say otherwise

emerin76
emerin76

@shenhua1337 @emerin76 I do remember when games were rated on each feature seperately in magazines...maybe they still are, but I haven't bought a magazine since 1998...rating graphiics, sounds, gameplay, replayability etc etc which formed the overall score.  Should bring that back.  ONE number for the whole doesn't reflect accurately.

emerin76
emerin76

@shenhua1337 @emerin76 oooh oohho ohhh, Another World! now that game was great! Yeah that guy did a standout job! A true artist.

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@emerin76 And one final comparison. This vs Another World (aka Out of this World) which was a revolutionary, Adventure/Platformer made in 1990 by one person. Has 8.8 on metacritics... and this game gets 7.0 on gamespot in 2013. This is unfair.

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@emerin76 Remember back in the days, it was innovative to "cheat" out of the limitations. Limited number of colors? Let's make a custom palette. Too taxing to make nice 3d enviroment to be rendered? Let's make a video playing together with 3D geometry to overcome this (like in Megarace 2). We can't really make 3D enviroment? Let's make it work differently (like in Catacombs and later Wolfenstein 3D...)... Back then it took effort to overcome difficulties. Not playing a little picasso and telling everyone "Look at my splotches, it's art!".

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@emerin76 @shenhua1337 I think that this isn't fair to those that make stylish good looking indie games. In my opinion it's unfair to those that work hard to make their games look good by giving a purposely pixelated game high praise. I don't see any reason why this game couldn't look better with graphics of say Hearth of China or Alone in the Dark, Prince of Persia (Classic) or some other new indie games that didn't skimp on style or effort.

I do understand what someone mentioned below in the anwer to my other post. That maybe devs didn't have artistic skills or couldn't hire a person... that's all fine. But please, let's stop this nonsense of praising this and bashing anyone who likes playing good looking games.

How far can this go? When they will start releasing indie games that will be the resurrection of the ancient text based, input a command adventure games like Zork... and Gamespot will be all in awe of the "stylish nostalgic graphics and sharp controls!"... will nobody wake up that we've past that and such text based game you can make now in a weekend for a school project?

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@emerin76@shenhua1337 Thanks for getting back to me Emerin, nice to hear from you. And no need to be concerned, I'm not insulted ^_^.

Debating taste, I know. And your points about C64 are valid. Still there are many young ppl here in the audience so I just wanted to clarify on that (alas, with poor choice of words given my mood at that time).

As far as taste goes, I'd still say that FTL or even Tomas was Alone, both games that I own and played have much better style than this. But then again, to each his own.

The review put the graphics in good:
"
Engages your imagination with its low-resolution psychological horror."
It is also implied that having a score of 7 graphics, a vital part of a game as a whole, not from how much it taxes the system, but how good it represents the game world is part of the mark.

If you look at the comments and check other indie games reviews (again, where was gamespot when indie games were produced in the past? When it wasn't so trendy?) you'll see that graphics is always raised as a topic. And the worse graphically the game is constructed the more praise it gets from the fans and those who criticise are called to look at graphics and the technology used in them as everything that matters. (continue in next post)

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@red666devil @shenhua1337 @Pacer8888 @raiden-94 Yes, those poor suffering devs... you're so apologetic for them it shows that past excuses they can't be of any other value. Let's just all pity them with all our hearts and who cares about those who actually put some work in the product... it's better to have an army of fanboys to whitewash every shortcoming.

red666devil
red666devil

@shenhua1337 @Pacer8888 @raiden-94 Some people still play original Prince of Persia. 

Cause its fun. Some games are there for fun, and cost cheap. Probably they couldnt get the good graphics artist or something, and probably the dev was the only one doing the art side.

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@red666devil@blueinheaven@raiden-94
"

A game can not be bashed because it has bad graphics solely. " <- quite the opposite. Everyone is free to bash whatever they want. What is ridiculous and shouldn't be condoned is an outlet like Gamespot, trying to be objective giving such unfair score to shitty looking games just because they are indie (Or because they love them like the CIV which is another overrated example). If it's only a matter of their opinion... why bother with score at all? This is simply laughable.

red666devil
red666devil

@blueinheaven @red666devil @raiden-94 Sometimes, you have an idea in your head. Which you want to convert into a game. But dont have the assets to make it look awesome. Thats why somegames have backwards graphics.
And sometimes its the other way around. 

A game can not be bashed because it has bad graphics solely. 

Its like a product. If you pay 3-5$ for a game, with bad gfx but good funtime, you get the worth back.

But if you shed around 60$ for a game, with good gfx and bad gameplay, or anything bad, you will definitely complain. Its all about the product.

You dont buy a 5k$ car and complain about no ABS or AirBags, but you will if you shed 120k$ for any car.

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@blueinheaven @red666devil @raiden-94 I guess most gamers have no idea that it isn't that hard to make aesthetically pleasing games in 2013 even when you're just one man dev team :<

This pro pixel-indie craze is like the iPhone craze, "We are superior, we play games where graphics don't matter!" - Well, you can keep playing your half done games with lazy made graphics. I prefer to play titles where someone actually put some heart into designing it instead of saying "well I'm indie so they will understand it looks like crap" or "Well I know how to make games, but I have no talent for graphics"... all of that is fine, but PRAISING it is simply stupid.

omar_q
omar_q

@abdoalwaer @fakharakhtar362 Sometimes devs just want to pay homage to the times when they first started coding games, and believe me I was a DOS gamer and they looked quite a bit like this.

abdoalwaer
abdoalwaer

@fakharakhtar362 , there's a difference because these games are considered Indie which means that they're made by 3 people from a small and unknown studio and most of their games are great, but when game has bad graphics and it was made by some major studio with a team of developing veterans, that's when you can complain, Indie games barely cost more than 6-10 bucks but those games cost like 50 dollars and still don't provide good quality games?We want an explaination to that.


The Last Door: Chapter 1 - The Letter

  • PC
  • iPhone/iPod
The Last Door is a horror adventure game where you must unravel the terrible situation in which the manor's inhabitants are living as well as the truth about his owner.
Average Score See all 8 Player Reviews
6.8
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