The Last Door Season 2 Review
So first, a disclaimer. Because of the episodic nature of the game, and because this is The Last Door: Season 2, I strongly suggest you go to either the website or Kongregate and play The Last Door: Season 1. It's not the most necessary thing in the world, but it'll fill in the blanks as to Devitt, the weird eye motif, the Four Witnesses, and the secret society known as The Playwright. While the prologue chapter can answer one or two of the questions, a lot of them will be answered by just playing season 1.
With that said, if you're looking for a surreal horror game with a ton of atmosphere and a lo-fi aesthetic that manages to play perfectly with the player's imagination and delivers old-school adventure without all the pointless death, you need look no further.
The Last Door: Season 2 follows Dr. Wakefield, whose patient, Jeremiah Devitt, vanished under mysterious circumstances. With his mentor and colleague Doctor Kaufmann, Wakefield investigates the disappearance, which leads him through an upsetting mental asylum, a strange mansion filled with puzzles, and into the heart of a deep conspiracy involving an otherworldly presence trapped behind a "curtain" between our world and the next. As Wakefield is drawn further and further into dealings with the sinister masked cabal that call themselves The Playwright, he will be called upon to make a choice, one that will change the course of his world forever.
The Last Door is a game that trades mainly on an all-encompassing atmosphere brought together by the pixelated visuals, mind-screwy plot, and excellent sound design. As you explore the various levels, the ambient noise creeps in slowly, cluing you in to a variety of goings-on just out of sight, be they cats bricked up in the walls or a vaguely unsettling room full off birds. The pixel graphics are good enough you can usually discern what's going on, but obscure enough that your imagination will easily fill in the blanks. And then the plot, which includes an entire level in a space between worlds, and a surrealistic homage to The Wicker Man, keeps the player convincingly unnerved.
The episodic length also helps immensely. I took a break after each chapter and played one a day, personally, because doing so allowed for a break and the chapters stayed fresh. Had I just played straight through, I'd imagine I'd have been more fatigued, but as it was, the puzzles were less aggravating when I played the game one chapter at a time instead of taking it in as a full story.
About those puzzles: They're frustrating. It was frequently difficult to tell where I was supposed to go, and at least two puzzles relied heavily on backtracking, memory, and constant trial and error. I actually put the game down for a while after Episode 2, because the puzzles in that section were much more traditional and thus involved an incredibly frustrating bit of trial and error where you have to move from a series of switches indoors to the outdoor garden, either utilizing an attic window or having to go outside the house entire. A memory/note-taking puzzle also occurs in the last part, where you have to find your way through a forest. Neither is particularly a lot of fun.
But despite the few puzzles, the game is a masterpiece. There are some genuinely scary scenes, and despite the trial and error, the puzzles are mostly logical and aid with the atmosphere. There's an awesome moment in the last chapter that I don't dare spoil where others games have definitely stumbled, but The Last Door manages to knock it out of the park.
As one final note, I cannot suggest enough that you play this game through headphones. A huge chunk of the game is sound design, and it has to be experienced to be believed. It plays just fine anyway, but there's just something about dampening the extraneous noise and immersing yourself in The Last Door's soundscape that makes it so much better.
If you're in the mood for a deep, atmospheric, episodic adventure game, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. The first season is free, so not being caught up isn't even a good excuse. It may take you a few nights, but the visuals will stay with you forever.
Full disclosure: The author of this review received the collector's edition of The Last Door Season 2 for this review. They had previously played season one online.
Final score: 4/5