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The Last Door pixelates gothic horror


This is a Snapshot, a quick, un-scored review of a game we think you should know about.

Pixelated horror seems to be all the rage these days. Lone Survivor, Home and now The Last Door – none of them need high tech visuals to give you goosebumps. I spent yesterday morning playing the first chapter of The Last Door, a recently Kickstarted browser-based adventure game, and I experienced a handful of genuine chills. That's especially impressive given just how pixelated the game really is.

Characters look like they strolled right out of the first King's Quest, so blocky that basic human features are barely discernible. Head, hair, body, arms and legs. Environments are just detailed enough to make out the important parts. Spooky mansion, fireplace, sofa, foreboding murder of crows. The fact that the crows are only vaguely crow-shaped does nothing to diminish their presence.

As most horror fans will tell you, fear is often about what you can't see. For The Last Door, a little obfuscation goes a long way.

The similarity to King's Quest may be intentional, as The Last Door shares its point-and-click adventure roots. Set in England in 1891, the story has you guide the (initially) unnamed protagonist to the home of one Anthony Beechworth. A recent letter hinted at something awful befalling your old friend Anthony, and it's your job to enter his family mansion and unravel the mystery.

The puzzles are simple enough in this first episode, and most of them avoid bizarre adventure game logic. Just as in real life, a crowbar makes the perfect tool to remove wooden boards from a blocked door. You don't, for example, need to use a stiff, week-old piece of beef jerky. Some adventurers may decry The Last Door's easy puzzles, but I found them just interesting enough to keep the story moving along.

The Last Door pixelates gothic horror
The story is told mostly through text, picked up via letters and scattered diary pages. There isn't much resolved by the end of the episode, as it serves mostly to introduce some characters and to make it clear that something has gone horribly wrong. The Game Kitchen is a Spanish developer, and the translation is a bit spotty in parts, but the message gets through. I'm already suspending my disbelief enough to be frightened by chunky pixels, so I can forgive some occasionally awkward grammar.

As for those genuine chills, I won't spoil them here. Don't get me wrong, The Last Door isn't the next Amnesia, but the brief opening episode is effective. The entire episode only takes about an hour, and the pay-what-you-want price is as low as a single Euro. For a dollar and change, you might as well experience it yourself. If you're willing to pay a bit more, you can unlock special rewards, like a download of the game's soundtrack (which is quite good) and access to future episodes.

Speaking of which, sales of the first episode go toward financing the next. The Game Kitchen has already raised just over €2,000 of its €7,500 goal for the second episode. I have to admit that writing this article and promoting The Last Door is a bit selfish because, frankly, I'd really like to see what happens next.

You can learn more about The Last Door, and even try a free teaser, right here.

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