REVIEW / Last Stitch Goodnight (PC)

 

Way back in the day, Super Metroid and Castlevania Symphony of the Night forged a rule book for their 2D games that went on to create its own genre; Metroidvania. At its heart, Last Stitch Goodnight from Well bred Rhino is a Metroidvania-type of game that sets out to deliver a 2D map on a grand scale with plenty of opportunities for the player to return to familiar areas after learning new skills to find hidden secrets, while also delivering a comedic experience. However, Last Stitch Goodnight’s attempt to follow the tried and true Metroidvania formula is often beset by a litany of issues that hamstring the game into a boring and often frustrating trek through a generic mansion.

 

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Immediately from the outset of Last Stitch Goodnight, you assume control of a yellow ball that is the physical manifestation of human life. In this state, you go back to your body and give it a shock back to life and start the game proper. This is the first of your character’s unique powers that will gradually unlock as you progress through the game; similar to Samus’ ball form in Metroid.

Eventually, you will unlock more powers that are all different traversal methods such as flying, dashing, phasing through walls, and freezing water to walk over. While a set of traversal powers would be all well and good, Last Stitch Goodnight doesn’t provide an experience that will make you want to search the mansion for secrets, as just following the critical path alone can feel like a chore.

 

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The combat of Last Stitch Goodnight is incredibly stiff and unsatisfying, making enemy encounters frustrating. The player character will find new tools throughout the game, such as lead pipes, bonesaws, and cleavers; these double as weapons and context sensitive key items for puzzle situations. Finding the tools and figuring out which ones to use on certain items to solve puzzling areas was a genuine piece of the game that I enjoyed.

However, the combat element of the tools felt like an afterthought as none of them truly felt good to use. Some are arbitrarily stronger than others, such as a shovel hitting harder than a lead pipe. Ultimately, the game is very heavily animation based so it’s best to just use the weapon that hits fastest. For example, I found that a security guard character will have a window to attack and I could get four swipes with a cleaver, but only two strikes with the slightly stronger shovel.

 

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This method of patient pattern memorization and weapon optimization isn’t particularly anything new since games like Dark Souls pushed it into the limelight, but the animations in Last Stitch Goodnight are just so ugly that it becomes a distraction that goes beyond just combat. The platforming segments become incredibly frustrating as well because of stiff jumping and odd climbing mechanics, which just dissuades further exploration. To put it bluntly, the game looks and feels like it was made in a flash program ten years ago. In fact, I noticed that there were a lot of directly copied assets from the developer’s previous game in 2011, All the Bad Parts, used throughout this game. It just feels lazy and dated all at the same time.

However, while the gameplay side of things felt anywhere from underwhelming to frustrating, I found the most positives to be in the story of the game. Last Stitch Goodnight really operates on a very interesting concept about the creation of life and what that means as it pertains to an afterlife. There is serious potential here for the game to delve into these issues, but it never quite gets there. For some reason or another, Last Stitch Goodnight feels obligated to shoehorn in very, very dry humor that rarely, if ever, lands in any way. These attempts at humor undercut what could be a solidly written narrative.

 

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It should be mentioned that Last Stitch Goodnight was a game that was funded through the Kickstarter crowd funding website. The creator of the game was very open with the fact that the money was spent primarily on the soundtrack, which was done by a duo of composers that go by Fat Bard who have worked on games such as Crashlands. The soundtrack is very solid in Last Stitch Goodnight and compliments the setting and the set piece moments of the game. Fat Bard provides one of the most consistent elements of the game and it greatly benefits the overall experience.

Last Stitch Goodnight just feels like it wasn’t fully cooked before going finishing development. Some parts of Last Stitch Goodnight really felt like I was playing an alpha build or a proof of concept. There is a skeleton of a decent game underneath it all, but the game makes some questionable decisions in the use of tone, gameplay, and animations that ultimately sink the experience.

 

 

 

This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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