The Last Kids on Earth and The Staff of Doom has a tonne of potential. Our hands on experience with the game from OG Unwrapped.
When you think about the best aspects of The Last Kids on Earth TV show, a few things stand out. The witty dialogue between the main cast of characters. The irreverent and unique take on a post apocalyptic world. The action scenes. Creative monster/zombie/mutant designs. The art style in general. During a recent preview session at Outright Games Unwrapped with the first half an hour of the upcoming tie in game – The Last Kids on Earth and The Staff of Doom – it was clear that all of the elements synonymous with the TV show had made it into the project.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to presume that you’re an existing fan of The Last Kids on Earth. The Staff of Doom sure does. A short intro to the world, main protagonists and the new villain Malondre and it’s straight into the action. Thankfully Jack, Quint and company are favourites with my kids on Netflix so I’ve managed to catch quite a few episodes myself. Without this primer, I imagine I might have been a little lost to begin with.
The Last Kids on Earth and The Staff of Doom is a 1 to 4 player action adventure game. Malondre (jokingly referred to as “My laundry?” by the gang) is looking to obtain the four pieces of Bardle’s magic amulet in order to craft the Staff of Doom. With it, she hopes to summon Rezzoch the Ancient, Destructor of Worlds. Malondre has summoned slime monsters and destructive purple roots, alongside the usual zombies and mutants, which are wreaking havoc all across Wakefield. It’s up to Jack, Quint, June and Dirk to repel the usual zombie foes and stop Malondre’s plan.
The trailers for The Staff of Doom don’t really do the game play justice. It is instantly familiar to anyone who’s played games in this genre but there are a tonne of nice little touches. The most immediate is how the zombie and monster foes all require different tactics to defeat. There’s plenty of grunt zombies that can be battered with a combo of quick attacks but some bigger enemies will shrug these off. Instead you can use chargeable heavy attacks to knock them back to then get you hits in or they’ll do you some damage.
There’s stamina limits which limit your dodge roles which can make moments of the game quite exciting, especially when a horde of zombies rises from the ground around you. Defeat foes or trash environmental objects and they drop scrap which can be used to buy and upgrade weaponry and armour. This encouraged exploration as chests containing a veritable horde of scrap can be found off the beaten track – but some are surrounded by dangers.
It’s also impressive how much of the personality of The Last Kids on Earth comes through during play. Each of the 4 playable characters has a different play style. While Jack and Dirk focus on melee attacks, Quint and June are exclusively ranged. Each characters have throwable weapons which have different effects too. Dirk’s all about those heavy handed blows while Quint’s gadgets are fast firing but do less damage. When you do a dodge roll and you’ll occasionally get a little soundbite in the characters voice. In that first half an hour of play time, we meet many supporting characters around the tree house and Joe’s pizza, each of which reflect a facet of the game play and ways to improve a character’s proficiency at it.
What also stood out to me about The Last Kids on Earth and The Staff of Doom was the variety of game play types on offer within the first half an hour. There’s some very mild puzzle solving on display early on which, fingers crossed, gets more challenging as the game progresses. After initially reaching the town centre, the game reveals a tower defence, Plants vs Zombies-esque section too. Here, the gang set up turrets to defend the treehouse from an incoming horde of zombies. While the turrets are firing basket balls and rolls of toilet paper at the incoming threats, it’s the players job to mop up any stragglers that manage to get through the barrage. Again, this section hints at depth awaiting later in the game.
Not content with having just top-down brawler action and tower defence style game play, The Last Kids on Earth and The Staff of Doom also includes driving. Yup. You get to drive Big Moma around Wakefield, smashing up the environment and running down zombies. It’s a nice little addition I didn’t see coming.
Half an hour isn’t exactly long enough to get a feeling for whether a game is going to be truly great or not. What I can say though is that the first 30 minutes of The Last Kids on Earth and The Staff of Doom shows a lot of potential. I know the game isn’t designed for me or my age demographic but even I was having a blast with it. I knew by the end of the demo that my kids would be really into it. Having spent a number of hours playing 4 player co-op on the Jumanji game with my brood, I could certainly see us spending many an afternoon tucking into The Last Kids on Earth and The Staff of Doom. If you’re a fan of the books and TV show, this is one to look out for when it launches next month.