On The Last Door: Season 1

the last door

The Last Door is a strange little point and click horror game that is (I believe) going to stretch over two seasons. It has a lot to love in it, and it has a familiar aesthetic for anyone who has played any of my almost-adventure game stuff.

I had played the first episode a couple years ago, but after pressuring a friend into playing the whole thing last year, I thought that I would give the whole thing a shot in one day (I was also coming off of Broken Age, a game almost 100% not what I want in a contemporary adventure, so maybe I was looking for some redemption?).

The Last Door is playing with the 19th century in a lot of different ways, and from its advertising (and some of its content) you would think that it was 100% in the Lovecrafting camp of eldritch horrors from beyond time and space. Surprisingly, the game is much more concerned with hitting an aesthetic space that’s a little more Henry James. Epistolary conversations litter the world, and the horrors that get presented to us are less of the mind-bendingly evil (although they exist) and more of the apparatuses of that time period in Britain.

The church fails to help. Science does not deliver us, but rather runs us aground on new bad things. The urban modern is marked by oil slicks and butcher houses. It is a world that is thoroughly unpleasant, and in the “old weird” tradition that would be because there’s something rotten in things. Although there’s no shortage of ruins and things beyond the pale, I don’t get the sense that The Last Door is really painting the rotten nature of this 19th universe on those things. They just sort of happen to be existing–this would all be gross and disgusting if the evil existed or not.

I’ve spent more than one day of Twitter-time lamenting that we don’t have a game that gets close to Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate. That film is long, boring, purposefully fails to give anything, omits any gratification, etc etc etc. It is a punishment. But my god, does that cohere into something shocking. A man falls into a labyrinth of deals with the devil, and despite seeing the worst of what that could entail, chooses to make one himself. It is a document that attests to the banality of evil, and in that way its honestly a very 19th-century text.

The Last Door sells itself as a vehicle for Lovecraftianism, but it hits something very close to the feeling of The Ninth Gate. It’s wonderful, and if you like that, you should check it out.

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