The Last Worker Review (PS5) – Prime(ish) Delivery
Whether you like it or not, the state of England and by proxy the world is changing. Depending on who you ask, this could be met with a positive or negative response. Without getting too into the weeds of the good, bad and ugly of it, everything is seemingly moving fast. AI is the contemporaneous buzzword of 2023, with the rising fear of automation taking over the work of humans and headlines of corporations treating staff like cattle. The Last Worker explores the consequences when all of these elements go too far.
The in-game mega-corporation Jüngle can easily be compared to the popular real-life online retailer that can deliver almost anything on the day of ordering; And whilst this may be one big rinse of the powers that be, there’s also a personal story to experience from this first-person narrative adventure. However, I don’t quite know if the bigger picture got delivered to the wrong address, let’s get into it.
The Last Worker is set in a dystopian future inside a Jüngle warehouse facility, where we meet our protagonist Kurt. Kurt’s day-to-day revolves around sorting and sending packages from orders that come through, with a focus on making no mistakes. If an employee does mess up, they seemingly meet a fate worse than death; this was almost the case for Kurt when he drops a package, only for it to be caught by Rosa, a fellow employee.
This sparks a relationship between the two, who as Rihanna would say “find love in a hopeless place”. This is all delivered in an opening cutscene in an almost monotone art style. Time passes, their relationship blossoms and Rosa is seemingly pregnant. Human employee numbers dwindle as they are steadily replaced by machines, ultimately rendering Rosa redundant, making Kurt the last living worker.
Fast forward 25 years, Kurt – played brilliantly by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson with his gruff, apathetic delivery – is still at Jüngle, though not quite by himself as he has a friend in robot colleague Skew (played by Jason Isaacs). Isaac’s Liverpudlian foul-mouthed banter paired with Ólafsson’s straight shooting personality does a lot of the heavy lifting. The dialogue has more F-bombs than a season of The Sopranos, which could come off as amateurish but there is a charm to the relationship that unfolds throughout the course of the story.
It’s all seemingly business as usual for the pair until a bird-like robot comes into contact with Kurt. The robot is from S.P.E.A.R, a movement that wishes to topple Jüngle for their evil practices, and Kurt is the only one that can do it. The game takes multiple stances of bad situations and exaggerates them, maximising their dystopian tendencies in such a way that if you are already opposed to the idea – shock – you’ll still be opposed and possibly laugh at the absurdity.
Whether it’s cattle being brutally churned into meat dust or life saving medicine being sold at a high price, it’s all very much on the nose. I don’t begrudge that aspect, it’s territory that I feel needs to be discussed and in the method of entertaining media is always effective. However, The Last Worker doesn’t have anything beyond pointing out and taking the mick. It’s a missed opportunity, and when there are multiple endings – some in favour in revolution, others in favour of capitalism – it muddles the messaging.
Despite my gripes, I did overall have fun with the story. I’ll bring it back to Kurt and Skew having great back and forth and even a touching relationship; as well as some of the environmental story telling of the items you deliver. From a punching bag of a certain “democratically” elected Russian President, to a Proud Boi training potty, I had a good chuckle during my playtime.
These ingenious items are a big part of the structured segments of the main gameplay loop, which is picking and delivering and trying not to get fired in the process. Skew’s walk you through of your ‘first day at work’ is your tutorial. From the first person perspective, you’ll be sat in your hover-cart (your mode of transport) as you learn about the process.
You have a Jünglegun which is your one stop shop for everything pack and delivering. With this equipped you’ll explore the vast warehouse halls with an uncountable amount of shelf space to find your requested item. Navigation is made easy by the press of R3 to bring up a navigational line as well as a map to find your footing. Once you’ve found your boxed item you’ll fire your gun bringing the box towards you. They’ll be marked with stickers of it’s size and weight which you can determine by placing in front of your cart that has scales. If the stickers match, you’re good to find the delivery tube and shoot it on it’s merry way.
If the stickers are wrong, or you can see damage to the box, you hold triangle tap left and cycle through the stickers that you can shoot on the item to say if it’s damaged, wrong weight/size and more then shoot it at the recycling tube. It’s quite cumbersome on a controller and one of the first signs that The Last Worker could play better in PSVR2; but this ebb and flow of finding the item, checking if it’s alright then delivering was a fun digestible loop I couldn’t get enough of. The loop coupled with the hilarious items makes me wish this was the game that it expanded on, but it gets deeper.
As you’ve been contacted by S.P.E.A.R to disrupt Jüngle, you go on various saboteur missions. The warehouse is crawling with robots just waiting for anything to step out of line to cut them down immediately, so stealth is key. As you progress you’ll gain new disruptive devices such as a hacking tool for doors and even an EMP blast. The hacking tool is a neat 3×3 cubic tile puzzle where you have to match the image on screen by flicking to the right 1 of 6 images on each cube.
The EMP comes in much later as it’s under utilised then quickly knee capped by becoming usable once per checkpoint. These elements coincide with the stealth elements which started out just fine but ended on being on the more frustrating side. With the controls being a little clunky and the enemy AI having strange detection ranges whilst being visually outlined made for some over bearing puzzles.
The sections are of course to further the narrative but they just made me wish I was back doing my 9 to 5 delivery job, as that had an oddly satisfying flow compared to the underbaked story. There is a decent sense of the world in The Last Worker, one I wish was more fleshed out. However, the art style that Wolf & Wood Oiffy went for is worth highlighting.
ChatGPT Headline For Optimal SEO (The Last of The Last Worker)
The visual style is a blend of handcrafted 3D and 2D art from British comic artist Mick McMahon – the man behind the iconic Judge Dredd and other 2000AD properties. It feels like a match made in heaven. The type of commentary and setting that The Last Worker goes for would fit right in as a 2000AD comic series.
It may not be the most intricate of art directions, but the cel-shaded composition mixed in with a unique style really does set this game apart. It’s reminiscent of 2019’s Void Bastards whilst still maintaining it’s own flair; and when there’s over 100 items to deliver all satirically designed, it was these reasons I kept replaying scenes to collect them all for the platinum trophy.
I had a decent time with The Last Worker overall. As a VR title this may be an even better experience as the gameplay and controls are certainly designed with that in mind; maybe to a disservice for those playing with a controller. I saw the story beats from a mile off and I wasn’t wowed by the conclusion, but I enjoyed my stay alongside Kurt and Skew. Although the controls are clunky, I had a fun and distinctive time delivering packages to the masses.
All the elements from the actors, writers, artists feels like this should be a defining game, but the chemistry just isn’t completely there. It’s a shame, I think if the writing dug a little bit deeper and what the game tried to convey was stronger I’d have loved the game, but it was just good.
With a bit more to say The Last Worker could’ve been a great game, but the paper thin plot and clunky controls hold back what is otherwise a stylish and unique time with or without VR. Hopefully there’ll be more to come from this world as it’s an interesting premise, but for right now it’s a decent couple of evenings spent.
The Last Worker is out now on PlayStation 5 (review platform), Xbox Series S|X, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.
Developer: Wolf & Wood Interactive Limited, Oiffy
Publisher: Wired Productions
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here. If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.
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