VIDEO GAMING

Game review: The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human

Immerse yourself in a tranquil 8-bit undersea world and take on some old-school bosses in this action adventure side-scroller

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 April, 2016, 1:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 April, 2016, 1:29pm

The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human

YCYJ

4/5 stars

We’re sure there are at least a few folks out there who aren’t digging this whole eight-bit trend, but I’m not one of them. I’m loving everything about it: the retro graphics, the simplistic gameplay that reveals deeper layers of creativity, the thoroughly nostalgic reverence, the bargain download prices.

Available for PC, The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human is a classic example, a game that soothes you into a sleepy sense of underwater attraction, before unleashing a series of boss beasts that challenge every aspect of your abilities. Swedish developer YCYJ has compared it to the stop-start dynamics of a Pixies song, which is exactly the kind of hipster-pretentious thing you need to dish out to attract the generally bearded public.

For us gamers though, a better comparison is one we often make nowadays, Last Human harking back to that incredible PS2 cult classic, Shadow of the Colossus. That’s not laziness on our part, by the way – it’s a testament to that classic game’s legacy and its influence on modern less-is-more indie releases.

Here’s a submerged post-apocalyptic world that’s not all fire and brimstone, but a strangely peaceful setting where, as the last human, you sail in your submarine through a ruined earth now taken over by aquatic creatures. Much of your time is spent exploring, floating away, finding upgrades and seeking out new passages that will expand the map.

But every so often, you’ll encounter a sea monster – the ‘colossi’ of this world. There are 11 in total to battle in any order of your choosing. Each is distinctly challenging, and it takes equal measures of tactic, strategy, puzzle-solving and reflexes to take on the opponents. Which is to say, you’re going to die plenty of times before you even beat one of them, but that’s the beauty of it.

Sure, it’s fun to race through realistic cityscapes and beat the living crap out of virtual evil terrorists – but it’s as much fun to just lose yourself in a hauntingly beautiful setting, lulled by an evocative electric soundtrack in a landscape where nearly anything seems possible. That’s really what we all love about video games – the endless imaginative possibilities and a particular feeling that no other medium can capture as well.

Last Human really does make you feel like the earth’s final inhabitant, and you can’t just read about it – it has to be played to be experienced.