The Last Stitch Goodnight, reviewed by Maurice Collum.
You awake in a hospital bed following a near death experience, but you are not a patient. Instead, you are a prisoner at the mercy of Dr. Dooley (seriously?). The once loyal nurse Lon releases you from your shackles allowing you to escape. From here you must navigate an expansive mansion/asylum confronting security and patients from failed experiments, before facing off against Dr. Dooley himself. Welcome to Last Stitch Goodnight from developer Well Bred Rhino.
The story of Last Stitch Goodnight seems promising at first, incorporating a mad scientist’s desire to create the very essence of life, but you soon realise that it is in fact shallow and dull. Your character lacks any history or depth so you care little about them or their predicament. As you progress the story attempts to convey a sense of purpose as a means to carry on, leading to an anti-climatic twist and unsatisfying conclusion, serving as a reminder that narrative can often be the stumbling block of indie games. It’s further dragged through the ditch using god-awful voice acting to support character dialogue. Vocal contribution can be best described as one day in the studio recording incomprehensible mumblings.
I’m aware this was deliberate to fit with the style of the game, and to its credit, it does fit. But when you hear nurse Lon mutter “batter…batter…batter” for every new piece of written dialogue, it wears extremely thin, very quickly. I’ll admit I chuckled at first, but soon it grated. Further attempts at humour in the writing often fell flat. Luckily the rest of the game has plenty of strengths to warrant a purchase.
Graphically Last Stitch Goodnight is nice to look at, blending 2D cartoon-style characters in the foreground with a 3D backdrop. It feels like you are looking directly into the side of a shoebox diorama with a bright colour palette. Many aspects of the environment seem stiff and not to scale but this can be overlooked, so it doesn’t detract too much from the overall presentation.
Sound design is solid, provided you ignore the terrible voice dialogue. The soundtrack features a collection of comical haunted house style tracks which vary depending on where you are in the mansion. I even found myself recalling a particular track in my head long after completing the game.
Gameplay is where Last Stitch Goodnight really shines. Essentially, it’s a side-scrolling beat ’em up, but with a layer of strategy, with new enemies being introduced periodically. Combat is primarily melee (grenades offering a ranged attack) but variety helps to reduce repetition. Each enemy has a unique attack style, range, speed, or pattern, requiring you to either jump, crouch, or dodge in order to fight effectively. It sounds simple, but each of your weapons also has varying range and attack styles so it helps to mix things up a bit. Combat is further improved by well-designed hit detection, attacking at the appropriate range resulting in critical hits.
Weapons are also incorporated into puzzle solving. How a game as crazy in design manages to remain somewhat grounded by conforming to logic is another huge strength. For example, starting with a screwdriver, you can dismantle a bed to then obtain a lead pipe as a new weapon. Another example is a candle used to increase visibility in darkened areas. It’s a system that works well throughout the game allowing puzzles to be solved with logic, rather than trial and error.
Aside from weapons, you have a host of abilities at your disposal, ranging from a simple dash, freezing water, and even transforming into a ball of pure energy to navigate tight spaces or restore power to control panels. Weapon/ability skills are tested in the various boss battles which are simple at first, becoming more complex when more abilities are introduced. The “rinse and repeat” system of gaining an ability, learning how to use it, followed by a boss battle test may seem tedious for some. However each boss battle feels unique, requiring you to exploit their weakness before commencing your assault, and ultimately feel satisfying.
Enemies can only be knocked unconscious, bosses being the exception. They have the ability to revive at any given time once you have left the room. This system is great for collecting item drops, such as health and grenades, but also alludes to a weakness in design. Many times I noticed enemies could be downed or revived by simply leaving the room and returning immediately. It may only occur if you have previously downed the enemies, but it ruined the immersion slightly, feeling more like a random function in the code rather than my need to fight.
Aside from the main quest, optional secondary quests are found through interactions with characters or the environment as you explore. These secondary quests serve to uncover the mysteries of the mansion/asylum but the real reward is receiving new items or weapon upgrades. Navigating the primary quest can be a little vague at times, but later you can buy some very handy glasses from a merchant, showing you exactly where to go.
All things considered, I really enjoyed my time with Last Stitch Goodnight. There’s variety to be had in the combat and quests in this 4-5 hour experience. It currently retails in US for just $12.99 and £9.99 in the UK, so it’s worth a purchase for any indie fan looking something unique. Aside from the lacklustre story and terrible dialogue, there’s a solid game here that breeds new life into 2D indie games.
- Combat variety
- Logical puzzle solving
- Satisfying boss battles
- Dull story throughout
- Did I mention the terrible dialogue?
- Enemy consciousness random at times
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed) | PC
Developers: Well Bred Rhino
Publishers: Well Bred Rhino
Written by Maurice Collum