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August 2022

The Last Worker

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Wired Productions
Developer: Oiffy, Wolf & Wood
Release Date: 2022


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Switch/PS5/XSX/PC Preview - 'The Last Worker'

by Cody Medellin on June 13, 2022 @ 10:00 a.m. PDT

The Last Worker is a first-person narrative adventure centered around our struggle in an increasingly automated world.

For some stories and games, timing is everything. That is especially true of The Last Worker, a game that comes at a time when ideas about workers' rights and monolithic corporations and automation are familiar but relevant. We got a hold of an alpha build ahead of the demo release, and we came away intrigued.

The Last Worker takes place in an unknown future. Players take on the role of an employee of J√ľngle, a not-so-subtle analog to Amazon. Just like everyone else, you go to work at the monolithic warehouse and grab boxes that are shipped out to waiting customers. As time goes on, employees who make mistakes get sent away, while others try to make their daring escape from the company until you are the final human employee left.

All of this is told through an opening cinematic displayed in your pod. When the gameplay begins, you are in a mechanical chair while a malfunctioning robot guides you through a tutorial of driving your chair and using basic functions of a grabbing gun. Afterward, you are whisked to the second chapter, where you are recruited by a flying mechanical bird to join the resistance. The bird wants you to see some of the horrors that the company doesn't want others to know about.

The vibe that you get from the opening chapter feels like Portal with a bit of an edge. The malfunctioning robots are charming, and the facility has a dystopian happy future in its aesthetics. The edge comes from your character, who is by no means a silent protagonist. Throwaway lines about how he's the last human and how Manhattan is most likely at the bottom of the ocean provide a grim depiction of the future, and the desire for the resistance to show you the inner workings of the company will likely make the picture even grimmer. There's still an element of intrigue about whether the story will contain any surprises.

Despite the trailer and Steam page showing some puzzles, the demo build shows none of that. Get out of the tutorial, and the game throws you straight into a stealth section, where you must identify the best object to block the robot's sentry beams.

The demo shows off the basics well enough, from grabbing a decent number of objects, twisting them around, and tossing them where they need to go. You need to tap on the trigger to pull an object and then hold and release the same trigger to perform a throw. You can't simply hold on to the trigger when you grab an object because the game only registers that as a grabbing motion. This is fine during slow moments, but when you start to get chased by drones and need to chuck them to disable them, those who aren't practiced in this move will get stuck in easily escapable situations. Practice will make perfect, but it is a slightly frustrating mechanic to learn.

The demo takes less than 15 minutes to complete, and each chapter stops just as something intriguing is about to occur. It makes sense to do this since the narrative is so important to the title, and there's a desire to reel in the player while also making sure that not too much is revealed. Still, we wish that there was more to see and do before we reached the screen asking to add the title on our Wishlist.

The story and dialogue look to be the main factors for The Last Worker. What's present provides some thought-provoking ideas that are interlaced with dark humor. The stealth looks basic enough, while the controls for the grabbing gun aren't intuitive in a high-pressure situation. There's a decent amount of time left before the game's theoretical release later this year, so we hope to see more as The Last Worker progresses in its development cycle.

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