The Last One is a decent social zombie game, but you’d better bring along some friends.
It all started when Allie, stricken as she was with glowing eyes that would put the Cheshire Cat to shame and arms that looked infected well past the point of hope, asked me for help with offing a nearby chap who had a mild case of zombie-itis. Apparently no one thought to tell the poor dear that she didn’t look so hot herself. And so began my adventures in yet another social zombie game, which I spent almost every moment of expecting Allie and her green limbs to turn on me.
To my regret, she never did. But even beyond such predictability and disappoinments, The Last One has its fun moments, although they’re interspersed among attempts at variety that push the whole concept towards silliness.
Take the first building that I had to restore on the map of the ruined city that serves as the setting. You’d think survivors of a zombie apocalypse would first think of restoring (and fortifying) clinics and groceries, but no, of all things, Allie has me restore a laundromat to earn more money. Maybe the zombies had actually gotten to her after all. There’s also a lingering sense that all the power’s off as you sneak amid the barricades you smash up for coins and XP—so much for the poor schmucks who must have built them—so it comes as a surprise that everyone’s smart phones still apparently work properly despite the assumed inoperation of nearby towers. It’s a cute usage of the concept, to be fair: you use it to dial up friends to help you (or, at least, their AI avatars), and it helps you keep track of missions.
And, of course, there’s plenty of zombie smashing to go around, which begins with the crowbar you used to save Allie. In time, you can graduate to guns and (for the particularly oddball) Thor’s hammer, Mjollnir. Most of the game, in fact, revolves around clobbering zombies for rewards and to meet the requirements for the daily quests, so it’s not terribly surprising to find that an energy system limits the fun. What is surprisng, however, is how quickly those thwacks eat up your energy. Each zombie beating subtracts 10 or more energy from your humble stash of 100, leaving you no recourse but to scuttle off the map if you happen to run out while beating back a swarm. The idea, of course, is to bring along more friends (which The Last One never ceases to remind you about) or, for the particularly desperate, to spend some premium currency.
Still, it’s more fun than many other zombie social games, and side projects such as the hunt for the pieces of fractured photographs detailing the story of the outbreak add some variety. The real draw, however, lies in the PVP arena combat mode against your friends who play, because if The Walking Dead taught us anything, it’s that human beings still like to squabble when the world around them is falling apart. The problem, perhaps inevitably, lies in its ease. Since you’re merely dealing with the same AI behind the zombies that mindlessly rush at you in the city-based missions, winning is just a case of taking a swing or shot at them and hoping they go down before you do.
But again, this is a game that never lets you forget that you’re meant to play it with friends, whether it’s in the boss fights that you’ll have a tough time defeating without other AI to join in or the resource missions that hinge on canned food deliveries from your buddies. (My favorite moment was when Allie asks, “You do have friends, don’t you?”) It reaches the point of nagging sometimes, such as when the tutorial directs your clicks in such a way that you might have the impression that you have no choice but to share items with your friends or inviting them in order to proceed. All this, for a zombie social game that’s merely above average. Still, it’s worth a look if you have enough friends to meet these requirements, but if you’d rather hold out for a better social zombie game, you can bet this won’t be the last one.