Every story has a beginning. A seed, often planted inadvertently, can trigger a series of events that will spiral out of control without warning. And in The Last Door – Chapter 2: Memories, we get to return to the scene in which the game’s overriding narrative was first set into motion, as well as shed a little more light on the shocking events of the opening chapter (reviewed here).
In said first chapter of Spanish indie developer The Game Kitchen’s The Last Door, we were introduced to Devitt, a well-to-do English chap, as he received an alarming letter from Anthony, an old school friend. After paying a visit to Anthony’s mansion, Devitt discovered that all was seriously not well with his old pal, and so set about uncovering the mystery of exactly what happened. And it is that very quest for knowledge that prompts him in this second chapter to return to the old boarding school in Scotland that he and Anthony attended as children. Only the school is no more, and has been replaced with a sinister “care” home for the mentally unstable that is run by a group of nuns, who seem rather perturbed with Devitt’s presence and his wishes to dig up the past…
Once again, the rich narrative is without question the main attraction here. The themes of madness, religion and the occult combine beautifully to create a classically unsettling tone, and things can feel genuinely disturbing at times. The setting too, if slightly contrived, suits the subject matter perfectly. Even with the returning 8-bit graphics, the whole thing is still absolutely dripping in atmosphere. The story is really what drives the experience; it’s what keeps you playing until the bitter end, as well as tantalizingly setting things up for the imminent third chapter.
Chapter 2 does unfortunately bring with it a couple of worrying issues that weren’t present in the first instalment. Firstly, the English translation seems to have been extremely shoddily done this time around. Spelling and grammatical errors are far too regular an occurrence. This might be forgivable when the game’s humble, Kickstarter-funded origins are taken into account, but after a stellar script in the first chapter with hardly a mistake in sight, a lacklustre job stands out all the more here. And with such an emphasis on story-telling, these errors can frustratingly pull you out of the moment. Here’s hoping The Game Kitchen can rectify this problem with an update soon, and that it won’t pop up in Chapter 3 either.
The fundamentals of the gameplay remain the same. Exploration, talking and puzzle-solving are the order of the day here. But with a slightly longer run-time than the first chapter (about an hour and a half) there seem to be more puzzles this time around. Now, this wouldn’t be an issue if they were in the mould of the first episode’s challenges, in that they remained resolutely logical and fair. But infuriatingly, the age-old problem of impenetrably complex conundrums in point ‘n’ click games has reared its ugly head here. There are a couple of puzzles in this chapter that may well drive you mad, which really is near-unforgivable, given that these moments totally pull you out of the story. Indeed, it’s only because of the high-quality story that you’ll likely persevere with the game. Admittedly, there are only a couple of times this issue occurs, so it doesn’t ruin the experience completely, rather it’s a nasty blemish on an otherwise excellent canvas.
Apart from these couple of niggles, it’s pretty much business as usual for TLD: Ch2. That is to say that the retro visuals are still as charming and distinctive as ever, the original musical score and ambient sound effects are still so good that they put many games with a hundred times the budget to shame, and the user interface is still simple and welcoming. The jump-inducing scares aren’t quite as prevalent as in Chapter 1, but the horror this time seems to focus on psychological side of things, putting the player in very uncomfortable situations and watching them squirm.
The game is certainly more structurally inventive with how it tells its story in Chapter 2. After opening with a surreal dream sequence, flashbacks and unnerving “is this really happening?” moments feature heavily. These really help keep the narrative flowing and feeling fresh, and suggest a very much warranted increase in confidence from The Game Kitchen in terms of the way in which they present the tale they weave.
Ultimately we’re left in a bit of an odd situation with The Last Door – Chapter 2: Memories. The game continues the excellent work of the first chapter, but a couple of missteps regarding the poor translation and one or two badly designed puzzles result in a less immersive and enjoyable experience. Chapter 2 still comes highly recommended though, especially if you enjoyed the first and are eager to see where the story goes next.
With Chapter 3 currently in development and nearing its Kickstarter goal, The Game Kitchen’s future is looking bright, unlike poor Devitt, whose murky past is threatening to consume him. A trip down Memory Lane might be nice once in a while, but you won’t always like what you find…
This review is based upon a review copy of the PC version of The Last Door – Chapter 2: Memories, available to play at http://www.thelastdoor.com. A Kickstarter-funded project developed by The Game Kitchen.
- Excellent Story
- Sublime Presentation
- Poor Translation
- Puzzles Can Frustrate