Ah, capitalism. It’s one of the nefarious cogs that keeps this flawed world turning. When you take a step back and look at it for what it is, it’s a calculated, truly evil system designed to separate the means of production from the masses.
However, it’s really hard to stay mad or focus our rage at corporations when there is a BOGOF sale on Funko Pops or a redeemable 30% off voucher for dog chow.
I don’t even have a dog, but at those prices, the cats will simply have to adjust.
We live in a world where our dinner can be delivered to our door by a drone or where we can slip on a VR headset and jump into another plane of existence. It’s such a surreal future we live in, and The Last Woker satirically leans into this with great effect.
Now, I have had some uncomfortable work relationships, but at Jüngle, things are a little different. You either ship your orders on time and correctly, or you mysteriously disappear.
That’s what happened to almost all the human Jüngle employees, but against all odds, one remains. You take control of Kurt as you become a one-man revolution hellbent on breaking free from the daily grind. In a world where capitalism is king, you must revolt!
The Last Worker has a fantastic premise that isn’t too far removed from some aspects of our own world, and perhaps hints at what the future looks like if we sleepwalk forward hand-in-hand with big corporations.
You might think that makes for a pretty bleak experience, but it’s actually packed with humor, witty satire, and intrigue. However, does the story carry the title on its back, or is the game the full package? Well, let’s clock in and get going, explorers! This is Ready VR One’s The Last Worker review, conducted on PSVR2.
Comical Look & Feel
Let’s begin by discussing the overall look and feel of this dystopian world we are thrust into. The Last Worker’s overall presentation is straight from the mind of Mick McMahon, of Judge Dread and 2000 AD fame.
His distinct approach to comic book art has seen many properties he worked for soar higher than they might have otherwise, and I dare say that’s the case here too.
The Last Worker could have been a very dry and sinister affair or equally, a very unrelatable and silly adventure in the hands of another lead artist, but thanks to Mick’s incredible balance of cel-shaded animation, colorful characters, and the dreary yet mesmerizing world, this game consistently impresses with whimsical visuals.
It could be seen as a cop-out to shoot for cartoonish charm rather than hyper-realism, and in some cases, it is. However, with regards to The Last Worker, this format not only suits the tone of the game, but also doesn’t rest on its laurels.
There are so many fun and comical details that add to the immersion that comes with capitalistic inertia.
Such as cows you saved from the slaughterhouse just chilling in your home between missions, or the fact that you can see Kurt in his seat mirror, allowing you to see your expressions during dialogue and really connect with the player character.
The only criticism I would have visually is that there aren’t any ‘wow’ moments. That’s partly down to the fact that the game’s setting is dark, dreary, and uninviting by design.
However, I would have liked a few more standout points of interest. This is a small issue in what is otherwise a well-presented and unique world worth exploring.
VR & Its Stars
Well-known actors lending their voice and likeness to video games has become a pretty common thing. I’m sure you all remember Norman Reedus chugging Monster Energy in fellow delivery-based game, Death Stranding, not too long ago.
However, the same cannot really be said about VR titles. This is why it’s all the more impressive that The Last Worker has bucked that trend, bringing in some big hitters to bring excellent writing to life.
The most notable performances were undoubtedly in the supporting roles, with Jason Issacs of Harry Potter fame playing the role of the temperamental Scouse companion bot, Skew.
Then you also see another stellar performance from the daughter of the late Robin Williams, Zelda Williams, voicing Cheyenne. Across the board, the vocal performances are outstanding and do a lot to truly immerse the player in the action.
Welcome to the Jüngle
The vocal performances are excellent, but you have to give Jörg Tittel a lot of credit here, as the overall vision to bring this story to life is nothing short of masterful.
If you haven’t managed to work it out by now, the game centers around a core principle of ripping the piss out of Amazon and Jeff Bezos, something I can really get behind.
The game does a great job of fantasizing every core fault in the Amazon regime, from the conditions of the warehouse workers, to the emphasis on worker productivity at all costs.
All the while never going over the top and losing sight of their satirical target. In particular, I really liked the Jüngle salute that workers had to clock in for their shifts. Who says you can’t make Nazi-related humor work?
As for the writing itself and the pacing, again, I can’t fault it. Seeing as the subject matter is so heavy, the game goes out of its way to be silly and crass, leading to memorable characters and laugh-a-minute comedy.
I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of a motor-mouth scouse robot companion? This approach allows the game to consistently throw the player into weird and wonderful scenarios, which in turn, break the player free from the monotony of the daily grind.
That being said, the game also cleverly slots in delivery sections between major plot points, which actually had me feeling rudderless at times, like one of the drones working alongside me, and to be able to evoke that kind of emotion without the player wanting to take their headset off is a pretty incredible thing.
If I were to criticize the narrative on offer here slightly, I would say that it does take a little while for the game to really sink its narrative hooks in, and the core gameplay, perhaps, isn’t good enough to bank on when it comes to player retention.
However, in terms of the game’s theme, style, and overall writing quality, I would put it in the same camp as Portal. Perhaps not quite as brilliant, but damn close.
We Deliver Dreams, Right?
The problem with my comparison to Portal mere sentences ago, is that upon scrutiny of the core gameplay, that comparison feels laughable. This game market’s itself as a story-driven puzzle platformer, much like Portal. Sadly though, the game, despite a clearly inspired concept, fails to deliver on a number of fronts.
To focus firstly on the positives, the game’s primary game mode, the delivery sections, do feel well implemented and engaging initially.
Once you master the controls, you can become very proficient at picking boxes, labeling defects, and shooting boxes into their respective tubes. However, the problem with these sections is that the novelty wears off pretty quick, and the game never really does a lot to revamp them as the story progresses.
There are some additions, like fragile boxes that provide bonuses, and Christmas gift boxes that need to be recycled. However, this doesn’t add any challenge or fun factor at all.
Leading to the later delivery sections feeling like obligatory tasks to proceed rather than enjoyable events. I guess that marries well with the core theme of the game, but a game should at least try to be fun at all times.
Then when not on the job, some aspects of the gameplay feel a little half-cooked. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that anything is a particularly offensive failure, but I would say that everything feels about 10% off the mark. Shooting feels fine, but not as tight as one would like.
Then you have stealth sections that are well designed in terms of enemy mapping and layout, but due to the player’s ineffective turning circle, you can’t be mobile and reactive.
What I liked was the variety of things the player was able to do throughout the short run of this game. However, I feel that a little more time incubating this one could have really solved some issues with the core gameplay mechanics.
A Few Things Askew
Then before we wrap up, I need to spill the beans on the reasons why this game is perhaps not the PSVR2 seller that Sony perhaps hoped it would be. You see, the game as a VR experience seems a little lacking from a performance perspective.
You can tell that this game can be played without a VR headset. I already touched on the fact that the shooting mechanics and movement feel a little off. However, the biggest offender in terms of VR immersion is Kurt’s seat controls.
You have a tonne of knobs and levers on his chair, allowing you to raise your seat, turn and move. However, I found that these were very awkward to use, would make it very difficult to complete objectives on time if used as intended, and, above all, they made me a little queasy.
Thankfully you can opt to use basic controls to negate engaging with this, but it’s a shame considering the fact that a well-implemented set of chair controls would have really helped further the player’s immersion.
Then to further dump on the performance on PSVR2, the game had some serious tracking issues. More so than any other game on the PSVR2 I have played so far, and I can only assume this played a role in various soft locks and issues I witnessed throughout.
I was unable to progress the first Spew nuke scene, I was unable to make my desired choice at the end of the game, and this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of small bugs.
The saving grace is that they were, for the most part, small and unnoteworthy, and the developer has promised a day-one patch to remedy a lot of these sins.
However, one thing I don’t believe they will be fixing, which is a major issue, is their tutorial system which is very poor. On more than one occasion, I wasn’t able to decipher the prompt on screen or understand what the game wanted.
For example, no one tells you that the tracker attachment for your gun needed to find Skew is above your head. Which led to me shooting damaged labels at Skew, begging them to tell me the answer.
I can only assume that this is a problem that comes with this game being a console and VR-compatible title, but even still, it’s not good enough.
If you loved exploring Jüngle and rebelling against the capitalist regime, then you might happen to like some of these close alternatives listed down below:
- Portal 2
- The Last Clockwinder
- Totally Reliable Delivery Service
- Death Stranding
- Crazy Taxi
- The Stanley Parable
Overall, I have to say that The Last Worker started slow but ramped up to deliver a very fun and memorable experience. I was very worried the entire game would be just delivering packages, but as I pressed on, the game blossomed into a wonderfully paced and intriguing narrative adventure.
The story is equal parts comical and crass, with a subtle underlayer of mystery. Plus, the vocal performances and writing throughout keep the player pushing through the monotonous deliveries to find out what’s up next.
Not to mention that the industrial and often barbarically cruel world of Jüngle is masterfully crafted in Mick Mcmahon’s quintessential comic-book style.
The only true issues I had with this game purely derived from the gameplay. From a performance perspective, the game lost tracking more often than any other PSVR2 game I have played so far, and on occasion, the game would softlock, forcing me to restart sections, often with checkpoints that weren’t all that generous.
I also felt that the shooting mechanics weren’t as tight as they needed to be, that the delivery sections didn’t diversify themselves enough to stay engaging late on, and tutorials in certain areas of the game left a lot to be desired as I had to work out mechanics for myself with no guidance.
All things considered, though, the gameplay was varied, the story was fun, and the game looked the part. You can’t ask for too much more.
It’s rare that we get a story-driven VR experience that actually delivers, so I tip my hat to this one. It has its flaws, but contrary to what Jüngle would have you believe, that’s not always a dealbreaker.
- Outstanding comic-book-style visuals
- Brilliant vocal performances all-round
- An interesting premise and a story that does it justice
- Varied gameplay that blossoms as the game progresses
- Delivery sections lose their novel charm quite quickly
- Kurt’s chair toggles aren’t well implemented, and chances are, you won’t use them
- Shooting mechanics are fine, but nowhere near the industry standard
- Some aspects of the game are janky, like tutorials and certain sections that cause softlocks
- Tracking was lost a lot throughout the playthrough through no fault of my own
Question: Is Jüngle Real?
Answer: No, Jüngle from The Last Worker is not a real place. However, it is a satirical depiction of the global conglomerate Amazon. So in a way, maybe it is real.
Question: Can You Play The Last Worker Without VR?
Answer: Yes, this game is a multi-purpose release that comes suited and booted with VR functionality, but it can also be played in a standard flat-screen first-person mode. Honestly, due to the somewhat lackluster VR functionality, you wouldn’t be missing much.
Question: Is Lucius Malfoy In The Last Worker?
Answer: Yes, Jason Issacs plays Skew in The Last Worker. Issacs is perhaps best known for his role in Harry Potter as Lucius Malfoy, but he is also well-known in Hollywood for his roles as Captain Hook in Peter Pan, and Michael Steele in Black Hawk Down.
Callum played this game in its entirety, completing it in about four and a half hours. The Last Worker is short and sweet.
However, Callum did go back to see all of the alternative endings, and may do the clean-up required to get all achievements, as the chapter selection screen makes this less of a chore than he had initially predicted.