Malum in se note
The Last Door is a horror/Puzzle Game
hybrid set in 1890s Great Britain that puts the player in the shoes of Jeremiah Devitt, a man who's just received a strange and urgent letter from his old school pal, Anthony. When he reaches his friend's house, he finds everything in a very weird way: the house is seemingly deserted, spooky notes are scattered on the floor, and there's a murder of crows devouring... something in a very enthusiastically bloody way in the backyard. Obviously, Jeremiah has some questions and sets out to get to the bottom of this mystery. Using a traditional Point-and-Click Game
layout very much akin to any given LucasArts Adventure Game
, you'll guide Jeremiah as he unravels the mystery of what's occurred and why.
The game is played in chapters and takes Jeremiah from Anthony's estate to their old school and deep into the frightening past they shared. A great deal of attention is paid to the thoroughly unsettling atmosphere of the game, particularly in regards to the music and the basic quality of the graphics. The game's developer, The Game Kitchen
, has indicated that two of their leading inspirations were H.P. Lovecraft
and Edgar Allan Poe
. It shows.
Can be played here.
Three chapters are available to play for free, while the fourth will require a donation until the next chapter is released. In addition, a novella taking place as a distant prologue to the story (and some coupons) is available for free by filling out a small form on the main page here. It covers an Amazonian expedition by Anthony in 1886, which goes Very, Very wrong.
- Ambiguously Evil: The nuns. We never find out enough to know if they were in on Father Ernest's use of the patients or if he did it all under their noses.
- Anachronism Stew: The "Impossible Love" segment is done in the style of an early silent film melodrama, complete with intertitles and piano music. But the games take place in 1891, before films were ever long enough to warrant intertitle exposition and when such short moving pictures were still enough of a novelty in and of themselves that piano music had yet to be introduced to accompany the images.
- Animal Motifs: To an extent. Crows (or ravens) appear to be a symbol for whatever strange malevolent force the schoolboys and Father Ernest awoke when they "parted the veil."
- There's also the parable about a rabbit tricking its predators that alludes to something not quite explained yet.
- Behind the Black: There are two instances (namely, the crows tapping on the glass before breaking into the attic in Chapter 1, the circle of rabbits in Chapter 2) where Devitt ought to have been able to see the scary things approaching but apparently didn't react because they were concealed from the player by text boxes. The latter is somewhat justified by it being in a Nightmare Sequence.
- Cat Scare: Just once, so far. And unlike most examples of this, it was meaningfully connected with the plot. See Eye Scream.
- Christianity is Catholic: Father Ernest and Mother Elizabeth are two prominent examples. It also appears that Jeremiah and Anthony's school was run by the Catholic church.
- Creepy Crows: Crows, particularly aggressive ones at that, are a recurring presence.
- Driven to Suicide: Anthony at the start of Chapter One, Monsignor Father Ernest at the end of chapter two.
- Down the Rabbit Hole: The climax of Chapter 2 invokes this motif heavily.
- Eldritch Abomination: This is what the Eye of the Bird appears to be.
- Empty Piles of Clothing: After comforting the nun at the window and watching her leave the room in Chapter 2, Devitt can find her abandoned clothes laying on the beach.
- Eye Scream: Quite a few times now.
- The first, and most memorable so far, is when Devitt breaks open a weak wall of fresh concrete in Anthony's basement and discovers a live cat trapped behind it. It's eyes have been torn out, presumably by a crow.
- There's also the recurring allusions to the Eye of the Bird in both Devitt's nightmares and in Father Ernest's ravings. And Father Ernest burned out his own eyes.
- Four Is Death: Certainly seems to be! The Four Witnesses do not appear to be faring well.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom/Hellish Pupils/Black Eyes of Evil: All very good descriptions of The Eye of the Bird.
- Guide Dang It: The one and only use for the rolled-up music score in Chapter 3 isn't easily discerned: you have to make Devitt blow through it at the feather in the cage.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: The Mr. Rabbit story takes this approach with its Sudden Downer Ending. It serves as a microcosm of the overall plot of the series.
- I Love the Dead: The "Impossible Love" film in Episode 2.
- Jump Scare: The game's usual M.O. These are particularly effective when punctuating the eerie, spooky atmosphere that the games very effectively cultivate. Special mention goes to the one at the keyhole in Chapter 3. Even though you're expecting it, it doesn't actually happen until the third time you check the keyhole. The stress of knowing something is coming but now having no idea when makes its appearance all the worse.
- Malevolent Masked Men: As-yet-unidentified people in yellow robes and white masks appear at the end of Chapter 3. They're apparently part of some cabal that worships the Bird/Eye of the Bird/King of Birds. They also offer Jeremiah a mask of his own, which he apparently accepts.
- Man Child: Cattie, an elderly woman who still dresses and acts as she did back when she was a child prodigy stage singer in the 1840s.
- Mind Screw: Plenty, and there's little explanation for any of it so far. Particularly near the end of chapter 3.
- Posthumous Character: Anthony Beechworth. While he does show up alive in the first game long enough to kill himself, we mostly learn of him and how he drives the plot after he dies. Especially since The Five Arches short story prologue is from his point of view.
- Retraux: In two ways, primarily:
- River of Insanity: Downplayed in The Five Arches, as they don't spend much time on the river; most of the story deals with them confronting Far, Far worse things.
- Room Full of Crazy: There's more than a few.
- Starts with a Suicide: The opening of Chapter 1 has the player guiding Anthony to pick up a rope, sling it over a rafter, climb up onto a chair...
- Secret Circle of Secrets: Shows up at the end of chapter 3, but there's hints of it in chapter 4 And may be related to the bunny scene in chapter 2. It doesn't help that this overlaps with the Mind Screw stuff that's going on.
- Sinister Minister: Father Ernest, though it eventually gets revealed that he became that way because of some pitiable circumstances.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: While the music's generally on-tone with lots of dramatic strings and eerie laments, there are three instances of dissonance that deserve mention:
- While in Anthony's manor house, you can turn on a gramophone that plays a cheerful, jaunty song, although it's in need of tuning.
- While wandering the sewers in London, you can hear the pleasant hummed tune of "Hush Little Baby." It's creepy in context, but it still sounds nice.
- The "Impossible Love" film depicts a man romancing a corpse and scores it with a very sweet, treacly song.
- Sudden Downer Ending: The Mr. Rabbit story in Chapter 2. It starts off as a lighthearted story in the tradition of Br'er Rabbit, with Mr. Rabbit tricking a wolf, a vulture, and a snake in order to keep them from eating him. Then, in the middle of his getaway, Mr. Rabbit is abruptly killed by a human hunter. It mirrors how the interaction between Eldritch Abomination(s) and humans marks a sudden shift in the nature of human affairs.
- Surreal Horror: There are numerous scenes that don't seem related to the main plot and feel like something out of a David Lynch film. Particularly the Rabbit Scene. This and the fact that they don't have any explanation makes them even more haunting and disturbing.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted; Devitt visits a therapist in Episode 2 in an attempt to get over seeing Anthony's dead body and all of the terrifying visions since.