Last Stitch Goodnight is a game with ambitions far grander than its execution. This side-scrolling Metroidvania title starts from an intriguing premise, but is so cheap in its presentation and so boring to play that staying engaged with it becomes a huge chore.
You play an unnamed protagonist who awakens in a hospital bed, only to find out you are a prisoner of Dr. Dooley, a mad scientist who might as well be Dr. Frankenstein. While trying to escape, you discover the bizarre experiments Dr. Dooley has been running in his mansion, and soon you find yourself fighting for your life. Credit where credit is due: Last Stitch Goodnight has a compelling story and explores some very deep, esoteric themes. Philosophical explorations of concepts like the nature of self, creation, and metaphysics are woven into an effectively creepy homage to early sci-fi and body horror tales. I’m not exaggerating when I say the story aims for the same lofty heights as the likes of Frankenstein and Blade Runner.
The problem is everything else is so at odds with this admittedly engaging premise, and so poorly executed, that it’s a real struggle to persevere with the game. Despite its dark, heady, narrative, Last Stitch Goodnight’s writing is at times ingratiatingly juvenile. Unfunny jokes (including some eye-rolling fourth-wall breaking moments), weak dialogue and even grammatical errors are in abundance, and these really dampen the impact of the story and themes. Even characters that in one moment have a great deal of nuance suddenly become tacky caricatures the next.
Gameplay is rough, repetitive and boring. Combat involves little more than running up to and hitting an enemy until they die, with no need for any real skill or variation in approach despite there being a wide variety of enemy types. This is combat that would be tough to praise even in a mobile game, let alone a PC and PS4 release. The only exceptions are the admittedly well-designed boss fights, some of which even require puzzle solving to identify weak spots. But these are few-and-far between, and in some cases the puzzles are so obscure the battles become a case of trial-and-error.
When you’re not bludgeoning waves of enemies to death, you’re exploring the mansion for whatever item you need to unlock more areas and complete more quests. And collecting coins. So many coins. While they do serve a purpose as a form of in-game currency, they feel like they belong in a cute children’s game, not a creepy horror title. It wouldn’t have been difficult to come up with some kind of in-game currency more consistent with the game’s world.
None of this is helped by the fact Last Stitch Goodnight looks and sounds cheap and tacky. Its vibrant, cartoonish art style reminiscent of browser-based Flash games from the early 2000s is extremely at odds with its dark narrative and themes. It’s really difficult to be horrified by “monstrosities” that look like Clip Art. It’s even more of a stretch to suspend disbelief and immerse oneself what is meant to be a nightmarish world when environments and animations actually elicit giggles at times because they look so basic.
Furthermore, the music sounds like stock assets, and the sound effects are low quality. And the “voice acting.” Dear God, the voice acting. Silly mumbled gibberish that plays whenever a speech bubble appears with dialogue in it. It would have been more effective to just have no sound for dialogue at all.
It’s hard saying so many negative things about Last Stitch Goodnight because it clearly tries very hard, and it starts from a very promising place. This isn’t a half-arsed, carelessly made game: It’s evidently a labour of love, it’s just not very good. If you can persevere despite the lacklustre gameplay and presentation, there is an interesting and engaging story to be experienced here, you’ll just need a lot of patience.
Last Stitch Goodnight (Reviewed on Windows)
Minor enjoyable interactions, but on the whole is underwhelming.
A game with lofty ambitions but none of the polish to reach them