Mystery surrounded The Last Guy, after being announced with a single image of a red pixel man and the title little was known about the curious game from Japan. It soon became clear that the game could be filed in the ‘WTF?’ folder alongside Noby Noby Boy and Loco Roco as it featured a rather bizarre premise. The Earth has been struck by a purple ray of doom and anyone caught in its beam has been turned into a monster, or as the game refers to these hapless individuals, zombies. You play as the only heroic zombie, from Himalayas (obviously) and you must rescue the inhabitants of cities who have evaded the purple ray of doom.
Played from a top down perspective, the heroic zombie can traverse accurate representations of the cities, running up and down the roads, parks and railways. When I say accurate I really mean it, the level layouts are made from satellite photos of major cities including London, Berlin, Washington D.C., San Francisco and, erm, Newcastle. As you pass a building that contains people they will pour out and follow your zombie; for the purposes of this Playback I shall name him Bob.
As you rescue the survivors they fall in line behind Bob and form a ‘tail’, whilst you weave and dodge your way through the city and deliver the people to the safe zone. If you feel that finding survivors may be tricky fear not, a single button press swaps the screen to a heat vision mode which helps Bob locate terrified people but removes the enemies from the screen.[drop2]Ah yes, the enemies. Roaming the streets are the mutated human zombies that will, obviously, try and attack you and the survivors you have following you. If your ‘tail’ of people gets attacked then they will scatter and hide in the nearest building until you go back to collect them. If Bob collides with a zombie then it’s game over and you’re sent back to the beginning of the level.
Careful timing and a good route will ensure Bob delivers the required number of people to the safe zone before the time – and annoyingly catchy J-pop background music – runs out. The more adventurous players will discover new tactics, for example if your ‘tail’ holds more than 500 people then rather than standing outside a building and waiting for people to pour out, Bob can encircle a block with his followers and collect all the people in the building at once.
Despite the arcade-esque look it is essentially a puzzle game in which you must discover the best route through the cities while a timer slowly counts down. Later levels include power up bonuses and blockades that can only be passed if Bob has a certain amount of people following him. With fifteen levels it will only take a few hours to complete the game but there is plenty of replayability, with the maps being large enough to offer multiple solutions to each level. The graphics are functional rather than amazing and it can be rather hard to locate Bob when he is by himself; even with the zoom level set to maximum, the Himalayan hero only measures a few pixels across.
Amusingly – for me at least – one of the London maps covers the West End and Mayfair, allowing me to rescue hysterical co-workers from the foyer of my office and hide round the back of a building whilst a large hairy zombie shuffles past. Shame that doesn’t happen in real life.
‘The Last Guy’ is one of those quirky games PlayStation does so well, a forgotten gem on the PSN. Strangely, it’s never been offered at discount or part of PlayStation Plus, a real shame as it is slightly overpriced at £8.99.