Reviewing the second season of a story-based adventure game is interesting, especially since Season 1 of The Last Door ended in such an intriguing way. Episode 1 of Season 2, titled The Playwright, carries on the pixel-based horror story. You now play from the perspective of John Wakefield, the psychiatrist of Season 1’s hero. Jeremiah has gone missing, and Dr. Wakefield has taken it upon himself to try to track down his patient and friend.
Episode 1 takes a slightly more open approach to exploration than the 4 episodes that made up Season 1. Set in the streets of London in the very late 1800s, The Playwright introduces a rudimentary world map where you can go back and forth between various locations as you hunt for items, speak with NPCs, and try to uncover clues to Jeremiah’s whereabouts. The rest of the item-hunting-driven point and click mechanics remain intact, and I found their uses all logical.
Considering the game’s small size, I was surprised to encounter a number of annoying bugs. Occasionally, an NPC would vanish from the screen for a second, or after quitting the game didn’t remember what dialogue I had already read. In one memorable instance, I’d spoken to a man about some artwork and he’d said I could take the paper sitting next to him. I saved, quit, and came back later only for him to discuss the papers even though they were no longer there. None of these issues were game-breaking, but they did break the immersion — an important aspect of any horror game.
I praised Season 1 of The Last Door for its pixel artwork, even though it’s a trend I am not particularly fond of. Season 2 delivers the same excellent 2D art and creates a distinct sense of horror through jumbled shapes that leave the worst to your imagination. There is only 1 notable jump scare, but it’s a good one, while the rest of the episode teases just enough horrible happenings to keep your mind speculating the worst. The sound effects are expertly timed to drill home feelings of horror and dread, though the background music is somewhat less memorable.
At only an hour or so in length, there’s not much character development for Wakefield in Episode 1. Still, he’s a likable enough fellow, and it will be interesting to see what strange, supernatural adventures he will have across whatever episodes are to follow. The writing is solid, and its use of language lends an authentic feel to the set period. The Playwright is an easy recommendation for any fan of Season 1 of The Last Door, but make sure you’re up to date on the story, as there’s no “last time” recap. And don’t forget: you can play it in your browser or by download — for free, if you’re willing to wait long enough.