I play and review games to escape from the drudgery of working life. From developer(s) Oiffy and Wolf & Wood and published by Wired Productions comes the complete antithesis of what a game to unwind after work should be, The Last Worker.
“The Last Worker is an immersive narrative adventure centered around a lone worker’s last stand in an increasingly automated world. Kurt works for the world’s largest retailer and is forced to choose between capitalism or activism.”
You play as Kurt, the only human left working at a gargantuan (size of Manhattan) warehouse. Everything has been automated, except for Kurt who not only works at this (not at all inspired by Amazon… honest) warehouse but, he also lives there. The company he works for is called Jüngle, the world’s largest retailer (definitely not at all inspired by Amazon… honest) and is tasked with finding and sorting people’s orders for delivery.
The opening of the game has you being sent to a package in the warehouse, checking its quality, to then send it to be delivered. You know, rather much like working in a real warehouse. Kurt uses his (company-issued) JünglePod, a flying contraption to help him get around the warehouse and to the 1,000s upon 1,000s of goods that the company sells. Kurt also has a (company-issued) JüngleGun, a multi-purpose sorting tool. This is how the basics work, you are sent to pick up a parcel using your JünglePod. When you find it, you then have to check the box and the details on it. Is it the right size and weight as to what has been ordered? Is the box damaged? Are the goods in date (no selling Christmas products after Christmas). If everything is okay and the parcel that you have been sent to matches up with the order placed, then you can send it off to be delivered. However, if something is wrong, then you have to use your JüngleGun to put a specific sticker on it (not the correct size or weight, damaged, out-of-date goods, etc) and send the parcel to be recycled.
That’s about it really. You get bonuses for sorting and correctly sending the parcels to be delivered or recycled. After your shift, you are then assessed for your work and scored. Perform badly and get sacked, perform well and keep the big boss happy. Yup, The Last Worker is a game about that drudgery of work that you really want to escape from when playing games. On the surface, this game is exactly the type of title that you really don’t want to play… or is it?
While the basics of the game may be about sorting and sending parcels to be delivered (still not at all inspired by Amazon… honest), there is so much more going on once you do get past that opening. I tend not to do story spoilers in my reviews, unless I have a damn good reason to do so. I’ll not be delving into spoilers here but suffice it to say, The Last Worker is about so much more than sorting parcels. After that opening, the story really begins to kick in and the game itself changes. Using the skills that you pick up in the opening of sorting parcels, you’ll soon find yourself in a world of puzzle and stealth-based gameplay.
The skills that you learn in that opening soon become your main tools for solving some devilishly created puzzles, action set-pieces and even boss fights. There is quite a learning curve to get to grips with as some of the action can really throw a spanner in the works when you are not expecting it. Failing and restarting from checkpoints will be a regular occurrence. Not that this is a negative in any way. If anything, it just helps add to the satisfaction of when you do finally master and work out a particularly tricky part that has left you stumped for a while.
The Last Worker has a very strong narrative that helps push the game forwards and keep you interested, brilliantly overserved and Written by Jörg Tittel. The story is engaging, engrossing and very clever. There is subtle (and non-to-subtle) anti-establishment satire and more. Just that faux opening of the drudgery or working in a warehouse and sorting parcels is the tip of a carefully constructed iceberg.
Then there’s the voice cast. Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Kurt really helps to sell the character. Jason Isaacs plays Skew, Kurt’s ‘helpful’ companion. Zelda (daughter of Robin) Williams even has a role to play. Everything is just rounded off and polished as the cast does a great job of bringing the awesome story to life.
Priced at £16 and available now on everything, including VR. I know that it is only April, but I’m already going to say that The Last Worker is the best indie game that I have played this year. It is crammed with varying gameplay styles that will keep you on your toes. Switching from puzzles, to stealth, to action to… sorting out parcels. You really have no idea what to expect next and when you do think you have the measure of the game, something will happen that will completely throw you off. Some wonderful comic book-style visuals add to the fantastic story and the gameplay just works. A big recommendation from me.