The Last One review
The Last One is a new zombie survival RPG on Facebook from Russian developer Progrestar. At the time of writing, the game is enjoying a feature spot in the “New Games” section of Facebook’s App Center.
The Last One casts players in the role of a customizable zombie apocalypse survivor, and tasks them with completing a variety of different tasks in order to ensure they continue to survive in this dark future. These tasks include rebuilding businesses to provide income of money and food, clearing out infected areas of zombies and hidden items, and taking down powerful “cadaver” bosses in cooperation with other players. There is also a PvP component to the game, allowing players to battle against each other.
A lot of the player’s time in The Last One is spent exploring ruined areas of the city, hitting zombies with various blunt instruments and searching caches for hidden items. These parts of the game resemble an isometric-perspective action RPG as the player character walks around and engages in combat. Zombies follow the player around and will attack if they get close, but suffering an attack appears to carry absolutely no penalty whatsoever — attacking a zombie, however, costs a varying amount of energy, as does searching caches or destroying barricades. The fact that you can simply stand still while a zombie apparently repeatedly tears chunks off you while remaining completely unaffected doesn’t do much for the atmosphere and sense of tension created by the game — without any risk of failure, you might as well be harvesting crops in a farming sim or collecting taxes from businesses in a citybuilder.
Cadaver battles fare a little better in that it is possible to fail them. The player character squares off against a powerful opponent, and the two combatants take it in turns to attack each other in an attempt to deplete each other’s life bars. The player character is able to invite friends to participate in the battle live, and is able to chat in real-time with them if they show up. It’s also possible to make use of two different types of healing item and grenades to turn the tide of battle in one’s favor — curiously, using the more powerful healing item actually heals the player well beyond their normal maximum health level, making it something of an essential purchase for most cadaver battles if fighting solo.
Between missions, the player may restore the structures in and around their base by expending a canned food currency — exactly how canned food is used to fix a fence isn’t made particularly clear — and rebuild businesses around the city in order to provide them with an income of food and soft currency. Most businesses require special items obtained from cadaver battles to rebuild or upgrade, though some items may be acquired by playing the in-game slot machine.
Players may also attend the Arena to battle against others, but this is an underdeveloped component that simply consists of clicking repeatedly on the avatar of another player that is just standing there until one or the other of you falls over. Players may also be attacked from their profile page in the same way. Those wishing for a more cooperative experience may form a clan with other players — the game makes use of Facebook’s Groups feature to set this up rather than anything within the game itself.
The Last One’s main problem, besides its total lack of tension in gameplay and its rather patronizing tutorial popups, is its inconsistent aesthetic. It doesn’t seem to know what its audience is. The title screen’s excellent graphic novel-style artwork (above) suggests a gritty, adult sort of game, but the in-game graphics (seen at the top of this article) are of the childish, big-headed Zynga-style variety, albeit with rather more brains being smashed out of skulls than usual. Couple the juvenile presentation with the rather dull, tension-free gameplay and you have an experience that simply isn’t very much fun to play. There are some great ideas evident in the game — the live cooperative boss battles are the clear highlight — but the poor execution and lack of focus on a clear target audience makes this tough to recommend.
The Last One is currently in the 100,000+ MAU tier (rank 662) and the 10,000+ DAU tier (rank 1,022). Further information on Facebook’s new tier-and-rank system for application data reporting may be found here, and you can continue to follow the game’s progress with AppData, our tracking service for social games and developers.
Some great ideas on display, but the game is spoiled by being patronizing and tension-free, and by sporting a completely inappropriate art style.