The Last Door: Season Two review - page 2

The Last Door: Season Two review
The Last Door: Season Two review
The Good:
  • Chunky pixel art backgrounds gorgeously bring Victorian England to life
  • Effective music and engrossing sound effects
  • Memorable characters
  • Good variety of puzzles
  • Both endings offer a satisfying conclusion to the story.
The Bad:
  • Confusing maze
  • Smaller objects are hard to identify with such pixelated graphics
  • Lack of voice acting will be a turn-off for some.
Our Verdict:

The Last Door opens up another suspenseful, extremely retro-styled exploration of Victorian England and the occult with a second season even better than the first.

The biggest improvement between seasons is that the variety of puzzles has vastly increased. There are still plenty of inventory obstacles, some of which involve multiple steps to complete, like getting the lighthouse lamp on the island lit again. And these puzzles make sense in context, like not having any change to buy a newspaper. (Of course a successful therapist would have enough money to buy one, but not having change is an organic way to facilitate a puzzle.) But this time around, there are far more challenges to contend with. Other puzzles include opening a safe using external clues, changing portraits to fit the personal descriptions, and playing a piano piece. The latter thankfully does not require any musical knowledge, as Dr. Wakefield will comment on the name of the notes on both the sheet music and piano keys.

Riddles are also used a lot in Season Two, and correct answers often reward you with a key to open a previously blocked-off area. Some riddles have clues in short book passages, like figuring out which birds to interact with in the aviary, while others are vaguely worded. You’ll have to figure out for yourself what “look into your soul in the heat of passion” might reference. One of the riddles is a word puzzle that tells the route taken by a famous explorer, which you must then duplicate on a globe. This particular puzzle gave me temporary trouble of a different sort, as I didn’t realize at first that the mouse had to be held down while drawing a path on the globe. Besides this purely mechanical confusion, however, the riddles all make sense and are fun to solve.

The game also includes two mazes. That thought may turn off many players, myself included, but the first one is actually enjoyable and relies solely on text and no visuals. Dr. Wakefield uses hypnotic regression on someone, and tries to talk the person through the location inside their head. It makes sense that the doctor, and by extension the player, cannot see what the person describes. The patient details what he is seeing in that area and if he can go farther north, south, east, or west. The object is just to explore, and landmarks help differentiate the different areas. There are few enough areas that you can backtrack and not easily get lost. The second maze, unfortunately, has you personally wandering a forest with many different paths to take, and this is much more frustrating, at least for me. Each path has a symbol nearby which corresponds with a clue that indicates which paths you should take, but what makes it frustrating is that the forest and the paths all look the same. It was very easy for me to get turned around and forget exactly where I was.

If you’d hoped never to see the low-res graphics of the late ‘80s again, The Last Door is certainly not for you, but they are beautiful in their own heavily pixelated way. The aesthetic is much the same here as it was in the first game, with blocky textures that still manage to convey a lot of detail in the larger scenes, and diverse background colors ranging from the murky blue ocean to heavy red in the opium den and the green hills on the island of Eilis Mor. This season has some really breathtaking scenes that blew me away, such as the two main characters moving amongst dead trees and tombstones shown totally in silhouette against the backdrop of a gorgeous golden sunset. Another provocative scene shows the flashback of a soldier wading his way through a deep fog that obscures the people around him, which really highlights the isolation he felt. Most screens have some kind of ambient animation, from carriages rolling past in the foreground to crows circling overhead. The scenes are also brought to life by different types of weather effects; one day snow might be falling while another is dreary with rain.

Smaller details such as facial expressions or a medal on a mantelpiece are too small to be seen with this type of display. Blank faces show no expression, which adds a bit of creepiness to the atmosphere and leaves it to the dialogue to help convey how the characters are feeling. To distinguish between people, the outfits are generally different enough to be noticeable; there’s no mistaking Dr. Wakefield’s blue outer cloak from Dr. Kaufmann’s red one. The hotspots are usually a distinctly different color than the backgrounds, like a piece of white paper on the ground. This makes it easier to find the smaller objects, and I didn’t have any trouble locating them like I did in the first game. While you might not be able to tell what a smaller hotspot is supposed to be at first glance, once you pick it up a close-up of the object is provided, and these are very detailed. Some close-ups, like a swinging pendulum or a moving candle, are used to create a dramatic tone, with the rest of the environment fading away so the focus is solely on that object.

Although the game does not have any voice acting, which I quickly got used to and didn’t find detracted from the experience, the music and sound effects really shine. The main theme is back, a very upbeat tune with a violin, in contrast to a sad string piece that plays elsewhere. Organ music accompanies one scene, and a thrilling piano and violin score adds tension to another. The sound effects are authentic and integrated well into the world. Dr. Wakefield’s footsteps change to suit the type of material he is walking on, such as snow, gravel, wood, or marble. Crows squawk and dogs bark in the distance, and in the more tense scenes in underground rooms, the silence is only broken by the whistling of wind and the thumping emanating from deep caverns.

The game autosaves when exiting, and individual chapters can be replayed. This helps to see both endings, with a single choice in the last chapter affecting which ending you get. The Last Door: Season Two took me around seven hours to finish the first time through, which is a bit shorter than the first game. It was all time well spent, capped off with a nice sense of closure to the overall story about The Veil and the characters we’ve come to know. Its combination of graphics, sound, and plot create a wonderful sense of atmosphere throughout. And best of all, the developers have fixed my main gripes with the first game, like difficult-to-see-hotspots, no puzzle variety, and a lack of memorable characters. I really enjoyed these four new episodes, and anyone who liked the first game should definitely pick up the sequel as well. Newcomers can pick this game up without any prior knowledge of the first game, though they may not understand all of the references in the last chapter. Either way, it’s a must-play for those who enjoy stories about the occult, so long as you have the imagination to perceive the horror behind the pixels.  

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