‘Tis the season of spooky and creepy games. This year has already been loaded with some amazing titles for horror fans, and while this game may not necessarily be a horror game, it still passes the creepy vibe check in my opinion. Last Days of Lazarus is already available on the PC but will be coming to the Xbox Series X|S on October 28th and later to the PlayStation 5. I was able to get my hands on the Series X|S edition and while this game may not be a long one, clocking in at just under four and a half hours, it’s still a good one to add to your collection.
Last Days of Lazarus is a first-person adventure that takes place in a post-Soviet Eastern European city in December. Snow blankets the ground and people are putting up their holiday decor. The holiday spirit is in the air, that is until our titular character, Lazarus, gets a phone call from his sister Lyudmila about their mother suddenly passing away, having taken her own life. Lazarus returns home a few weeks later, which is where our story truly begins. The world as Lazarus knew it is about to be torn apart even further when he discovers the dark and twisted past of his family.
While I did say this game isn’t necessarily a horror game, it does have some horror elements to it with the occasional jump scare and doom-and-gloom atmosphere. The game instills a sense of helplessness at times; I often questioned how the game could possibly move forward. You spend much of your time in the apartment Lazarus’ mother and sister lived in, but it’s slowly being overcome by this gruesome blight of rotten flesh and disgusting looking creatures, which does seem to parallel the outside world’s looming darkness.
Your main objective is to rid the apartment of this blight and find out why terrible things are happening all around you. You’ll not only spend your time in the family apartment, you will also be taken to graveyards, forests, a goldmine, and many other locations displaying the influence of the developer’s Romanian roots. The game is very well designed and I loved exploring each new area I visited. There are hidden items to find, including Some Toy that very much resembles a certain handheld gaming device.
The story of Last Days of Lazarus has themes of death, suffering, spirituality, and politics. Initially the game starts off with a series of seemingly unconnected events that somewhat address each of these themes. Right away it may be hard to see how these things could possibly be related, but as you progress through the story, you start to see how it all ties together.
Gameplay is a combination of exploring and solving different puzzles, which are pretty simple. Puzzles mostly involve trying to collect different ingredients and objects to complete some sort of arcane ritual. There is a lot of fetching things in order to do other things. Last Days of Lazarus focuses more on the narrative side than on the actual gameplay, though I did find the puzzles fun. I love uncovering secrets and many of the ritual puzzles had intricate little parts that were fun to interact with.
Unfortunately where the game did falter was the voice acting. With a game that is very narratively driven, I felt like there wasn’t enough emotion and passion in the voices, particularly in response to something that should’ve evoked a big reaction. Most of the time the voices sounded calm and collected, which is the last thing I would be if I saw monsters and the level of terror Lazarus had to endure.
I was very pleased, on the other hand, to see something I feel even the big AAA games take for granted and that is mirror reflections. With The power of the Xbox Series X|S, I’m surprised that many developers are still overlooking this small detail, especially with how much this feature was talked up before these consoles launched, however Darkania Works put in a fully detailed reflection, letting us see Lazarus instead of just murky glass. Maybe this is insignificant to some people, but I was genuinely excited to see it.
Last Days of Lazarus
Last Days of Lazarus is a fun indie (almost) horror game with a lot to puzzle over. The game is well designed, taking much inspiration from the developer’s Romanian roots. The voice acting does leave much to be desired but the gameplay and exploration were a good offset.
- Puzzles are fun to solve
- Beautiful Romanian influence
- Voice acting lacks emotion during big moments