They say never judge a book by its cover – and that’s especially true of Last Days of Lazarus, an indie game by Darkania Works, a small Romanian development studio (and published by GrimTalin).

The 3D models look quite vacant and stiff on the cover art, but the game itself is actually an involving and narratively strong first person adventure title that’s well worth seeking out.

Set in post-Soviet Eastern Europe at the end of the 20th Century, Last Days of Lazarus sees a troubled man – the eponymous Lazarus – returning to his childhood home after his mother meets a tragic end. Looking to spend some time with his sister, Lazarus finds much more than he bargained for in his mother’s apartment; such that reality itself seems to warp and tear around him, leading him on a horrific journey to uncover the secrets of his family’s past.

Gameplay in Last Days of Lazarus is extremely straightforward; it does at times feel like a walking simulator, albeit one with light puzzles that won’t tax the brain too much – you’re often restricted to a small area to investigate and it’ll be fairly obvious which object you’re looking for in order to open the next section of the game.

The visuals are surprisingly rich and detailed; for an indie game, Last Days of Lazarus really impresses with its art design and general aesthetic. The opening stage in the childhood home of Lazarus in particular is brilliantly oppressive; laden with religious imagery and unsettling details. Even a cat that you encounter is very impressively modelled and animated given the game’s indie origins.

The story takes a surprising supernatural turn during the opening stage; to say more about that or anything that follows would spoil the narrative far too much in my opinion.

I was very impressed with the story and the way it unfolds with some nicely done, deliberately disorienting visual effects, however – that much I will say. Also, props to the developers for including the option to read all in-game notes in plain text for accessibility purposes; if you can read them as they appear in game, it is immersive to do so – but the accessibility options are welcome nonetheless.

One thing I did notice is that the dialogue can be a little melodramatic and overwrought, but the narrative does survive the occasionally clumsy script.

Overall, Last Days of Lazarus is a surprisingly dark and disturbing adventure with a really strong narrative that may not last long – with a game length of around five hours – but there are definitely moments throughout the game’s oppressively atmospheric story that’ll stay with you long after the credits roll.

Last Days of Lazarus is available now on Steam, PS5 and Xbox Series S/X. Many thanks to GrimTalin for providing me with a game key for review purposes.

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