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The Last Worker Delivers An Immersive Story In A World Taken Over By Capitalism

Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PS VR2, Meta Quest 2, PC
Genre:  Adventure, First-person, Sci-Fi, Puzzles

Once in a while, it’s nice to be genuinely surprised and get immersed in a game’s story and characters. The Last Worker from developers Oiffy and Wolf & Wood Interactive is one of those games. It’s an immersive narrative adventure about a lone worker’s last stand in an increasingly automated world, with a unique blend of work simulation and other gameplay mechanics.

Welcome To The Jüngle

In The Last Worker, you are Kurt, an old man who works for the world’s largest retailer, Jüngle. Kurt is the last human worker whose job is to make sure the packages are correctly labelled and ready to be sent to customers or recycled. It’s sort of like working in an Amazon warehouse, but one that’s been super-sized in a world that’s controlled by capitalists. Players move around in a JünglePod, so you can move in all directions as if you’re on a floating chair. As Kurt, your main device is the JüngleGun. It works sort of like a kinesis module from Dead Space. In The Last Worker, it’s used to retrieve packages from shelves, label them if they’re damaged or incorrect, and send them into their proper chutes (either ready to be sent to customers or recycled instead).

That’s where the work simulation part of the game comes in. Basically, as Kurt, you’re doing this monotonous and dreary job of simply making sure the packages are labelled correctly and checking whether they’re damaged or incorrect. At the end of the work day (which is to say after several minutes of gameplay), you’ll get evaluated for your performance (how many packages you correctly label and send). If you get too many wrong, it’s game over, but really, the main focus of the game is its narrative, so it’s not that complicated.

Labelling packages aren’t the only thing you’ll be doing in The Last Worker so don’t worry. Once the story starts moving forward, there are a lot of puzzle-solving and simple stealth sections. The puzzles can involve JüngleGun’s additional attachments, including one that hacks devices and starts a simple puzzle minigame where you have to flip boxes and make sure they match. All of these gameplay mechanics, like the packages and boxes, are surely meant to be more immersive in virtual reality (VR), but playing it conventionally using a controller is still just as fun.

While the gameplay is fun, the highlight of The Last Worker is its narrative and characters. Kurt (voiced by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) is bolstered by an interesting supporting cast, including his robot companion, Skew (Jason Isaacs), and other characters played by Clare-Hope Ashitey, David Hewlett, Zelda Williams and Tommie Earl Jenkins. Everything else in The Last Worker just adds to its immersion, including the game’s cel-shaded comic book-like visual style. That’s because the art style of the characters and environments was designed by Mick McMahon, best known for his work on Judge Dredd and 2000 AD.

The narrative and writing in The Last Worker are satirical and thought-provoking. You’ll laugh and think about a lot of the themes presented in the game’s story.

The premise of “What would you do if you were the last human left working at a nightmarish version of an Amazon warehouse?” may sound depressing. However, the writers did a great job of turning it all into snarky satire, and there are still some emotional moments as well.

The developers know that the story is the main focus, so the game has been split into various chapters. However, it’s all still pretty short, as you can finish the game in around five hours. The Last Worker may have multiple endings, but there are no major choices ala Mass Effect or the like. The ending only differs based on your final decision near the very end of the game, so you can simply experience them all by just reloading the last part of the game. Another qualm I have with the game is that while the narrative is great, the ending feels a bit too rushed and anti-climactic in a way. Still, that might just be in line with the themes of the game, so that might just be me.

Jüngle Prime

If you’re looking for an immersive but short indie game that you can perhaps play in a single weekend, The Last Worker is perfect for that. The themes explored in the game are timely, especially considering the rise of Amazon as a mega-corporation in the real world. So, in that regard, The Last Worker presents a hypothetical future where capitalism runs amok.

 

PROS

  • Immersive narrative and character acting (great performances).
  • Unique gameplay mechanics that adds to the immersion.

 

CONS

  • Bugs.
  • Rushed ending.

 

FINAL SCORE: 80/100

The Last Worker review copy was provided by developers. 

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