Religion can be a tough subject to follow. However, when you mix it with a surreal War of the Worlds theme, it is tougher, still. Consequently, it’ll divide its audience, or alienate them altogether. Last Days of Lazarus tackles these problems in its odd blend of sci-fi, religion, and politics.
Developed by Darkania Works and GrimTalin, and published by the latter, this is a first-person adventure title. What’s more, there are some puzzle elements and classic jump scares. As such, it delivers a diverse blend of mechanics that’ll either pique your interest or turn you off immediately. If you’ve played Gray Dawn, you’ll enjoy a familiar style and equally overbearing reliance on religious content. If you haven’t, though, it matters not! This standalone title can be “enjoyed” because of its excellent aesthetics and wonderful storytelling.
Last Days of Lazarus pushes a clichéd image.
Set in post-soviet Eastern Europe, the game relies heavily on clichéd imagery. As such, there are moments that lack originality and feel tired. However, when this isn’t the case, the gameplay delivers sinister and disturbing action that captures your attention. Moreover, the cleverly paced plot flows nicely from one drama to the next. Accordingly, each small chapter demands you explore your surroundings multiple times as new opportunities arise and different paths open. Now, this back-and-forth may frustrate some players, but I enjoyed it. Had the developers taken a more linear approach, then each puzzle and chapter would have been completed with ease.
The action follows a man who returns to his family home. Sadly, his mother has committed suicide, and his sister isn’t coping. Subsequently, he must offer his help to protect his sibling. Yet, when he opens the front door, things are already awry. His sister is missing, and the dilapidated flat is rundown and grim to explore. Furthermore, there are rumours that strange events are unfolding and the end of the world is nigh. Consequently, your life and its surroundings are crumbling! As such, you must undertake a journey to discover the cause and your family’s darkest secrets.
Confusing puzzles and eerie environments.
For all intents and purposes, Last Days of Lazarus utilises standard first-person mechanics. Accordingly, much of the gameplay is well-trodden and easy to grasp. Yet, the unusual blend of themes makes it stand out from the crowd. Moreover, this makes many of the puzzles strange and confusing. The aforementioned back-and-forth exploration doesn’t help matters, either. Furthermore, the lack of a hint system leaves you scratching your head, and not in a good way. Sadly, this leads to plenty of trial and error and mindless running around. In theory, this shouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen. However, in reality, I wanted to use a logical thought process and not blind luck to solve the problems I faced.
Fortunately, though, much of this exploration is accompanied by some excellent narrative moments. Subsequently, the almost inane impact of covering old ground was somewhat mitigated. On top of this, the excellent and eerie environments are fantastic to explore. With many nooks and crannies, and uncomfortable sights to see, it never becomes tiresome. This is one of the elements where Last Days of Lazarus excels. It does a wonderful job of delivering its story subliminally. Yes, there is a plot to follow, but hand-scrawled notes and collectables pad out the skin-crawling lore.
Last Days of Lazarus looks incredible.
Though I’m not one for an overly religious approach, it somehow worked. What was bizarre as well, was how it was balanced with the melancholy surroundings. The grim nature of a post-soviet was stark and unnerving. Yet, the colourful and overbearing images of Jesus and crosses juxtaposed it perfectly. What’s more, the incredible details and varied landscapes were intriguing. Furthermore, there were limited bugs and glitches, and this improved the final product somewhat.
The audio enhances the thrilling and rich story. With excellent acting, creepy music, and haunting sound effects, it’s easy to fall for its charms. Alongside this, the environmental sounds are great. I adored the crunching footsteps, the howling of the wind, and the noise of shrouded creatures. In short, the audio creates an ominous, yet captivating atmosphere that is fantastic.
I can imagine that this plays extremely well on a PC or laptop. However, on console, it doesn’t work so well. Sadly, the controls are a little clumsy and finding each item can be troublesome. Unfortunately, this impacts the immersive nature of the game and is somewhat frustrating. This aside, I enjoyed the excellent UI and the easy-to-manage items in your inventory. As such, you didn’t have to waste time searching for relevant objects. No, instead, the game automatically picks the right one for each task. This was excellent, as it removed an otherwise annoying layer.
Replay value and longevity are Last Days of Lazarus’ weak points. Annoyingly, the main story is painfully short. Consequently, around 5 hours of your time will have this fully explored and dusted off. This wasn’t nearly enough time to take in the surreal nature of the gameplay. Subsequently, I was left wanting, and this frustrated me. Furthermore, once the game is finished, there are no reasons to return. Again, this was disappointing, and I expected more.
Last Days of Lazarus was excellent but short.
There is much to love about Last Days of Lazarus. Its theme is eccentric, bizarre, and captivating. Moreover, the story is enthralling and unusual. However, bugs and a short game length undermine its true potential. Yes, aesthetically it is stunning, but like me, you’ll want so much more. That being said, I still loved it and I recommend you buy it here! Will you discover your family’s dark past? Explore a grim world, and keep it together as all around you falls apart.