from Reload the APB to The life of the black panther And beyond that, we’ve covered some real stink stuff on Digital Foundry – hell, Ghost of Phoenix Past has left us a hot, steamy present. Twelve Phoenix Games are too bad A few years ago. I He knew Bad games – or so I thought. You see, while the discovery of ET cartridges buried deep in a landfill in 2014 may have made headlines at the time, it turns out that the Nintendo eShop has become the dumping ground of the digital age. Every week, the store overflows with a selection of low-budget junk that would make Steam blush. However, I wasn’t prepared for the journey I would soon be taking with The Last Hope: Dead Zone Survival and other “toys” produced by the scrap manufacturer known as West Connection Limited.
If you’re looking for a convenient toilet bowl licking replacement, West Connection Limited has you covered. They bring a veritable buffet of hot, patchy, smoking, barely functioning junk to the table that makes LJN look like Nintendo. In building its catalog of stinking succulents, West Connection has mastered the art of the SEO game with a collection of vaguely grouped words expressly designed to trick customers into wasting their money and time. Like Call of Duty or Battlefield? Try World War: Battle Heroes Field Armies Call of Prison Duty Simulator – or maybe Counter Bottle Shooter: Pro Aim Master Target Bottle Shoot 3D Game Strike Pistol.
These guys understand how to maximize results inside the eShop’s daunting search system, but it’s The Last Hope: Dead Zone Survival that really put West Connection on the map for so many of us when its “master art” went viral on social media, It primarily featured Ellie from The Last of Us with the serial number provided. This tactic worked and the digital waste spread like wildfire across the Internet.
The game begins with the Unity screen, followed by a fully static title screen that looks like the main art from UbiSoft’s The Division. You are presented with three options – New Game, Load, and Controls. If you choose a new game, you’ll be treated to a series of static images, with poorly written slides explaining the situation. The premise includes a time machine, zombies, and the government. The game then loads into an exceptionally pixelated first-person scene that shows your character waking up in a hospital room. Welcome to The Last Hope, I guess. You play the time-traveling commando Brian on his quest to… don’t know, save humanity? It’s not really clear.
Your first goal is to leave the hospital, and that’s when you’ll start to feel your soul slipping away. The hospital consists of three rooms, all divided by loading screens – your hospital room, the corridor and the staircase. The frame rate is completely unlocked and wildly unstable from the get-go, though it’ll get worse before we’re done. It runs at native 1080p in docked mode and 720p in a mobile device which on paper is great but given the performance it probably shouldn’t.
However, once you reach the bottom of the stairs, you’re greeted by a much longer loading screen that eventually takes you into town. This entire game takes place in and around this U-shaped street full of zombies and muscle cars. The world is awash in low resolution, with repeating textures and almost no lighting. Shadows are exceptionally low-resolution and barely coherent.
The Last Hope features a fully dynamic frame rate that can range from 60fps all the way up to an astonishing 15fps! In certain instances, the game seemed to break with a glitch visible across the screen. Strange flowering artifacts, shimmer shadows and broken alpha textures. Even worse, opening any door in the game has little chance of causing a game crash causing you to lose all progress. Oh, and when you restart the game, there’s also the risk of accidentally bumping into the New Game option since the main menu is active at the bottom of the Unity screen. Excuse me.
All storytelling is handled via text boxes that often awkwardly intersect with other user interface elements. As I noted earlier, there is no voice acting in this game and the writing itself makes Twitter posts read like Tolstoy. Oh, and then there’s the soundtrack – aside from a song in the main menu, there’s only one in the actual gameplay, if Counts what sounds like a recording of someone snoring as the soundtrack. This is the only ambient sound in the entire game and you’ll hear it from start to finish.
It’s this game’s design and economy, though, that amazes me the most. This is basically a 15 minute game if you play it right but it is very easy to crack the whole game. To understand this, let’s take a look at the game’s economy.
First, Brian has a health bar, a stamina bar, and access to exactly three weapons over the course of the game – a baseball bat, a pistol, and an assault rifle. Well, technically you have a fourth if you count the Molotov cocktail that can be made from an awful menu system. I found enough supplies to make two of them. I have determined that there are 64 bullets available for the pistol throughout the game and 100 for the assault rifle. Killing a zombie requires either three bullets from your pistol, four bullets from your rifle, or three hits with your bat. You can swing your paddle 20 times on a single stamina meter, and there are three MREs in the game to partially refill your stamina. Stamina also drains permanently if you run.
This means, if you catch every shot and every swing of the bat, while never running, you can kill 46 zombies with your firearms and 12 zombies with your bat, making 58 enemies. Add another eight or so zombies if you count the Molotov cocktail. There are approximately three to four times the total number of zombies in this game. Why is this important? Well, in certain circumstances, if you miss a shot, you may end up in a no-win situation.
After leaving the pharmacy, the game asks you to pick this police car – the second of three lock pick up mini-games in the game. The problem is that the game doesn’t pause while picking a lock but there’s no indication that you’re under attack, so, when you’re done with this mini-game, the camera pulls back and you die instantly, no matter what. Even worse, the game usually locks up tightly to the “You’re Dead” screen forcing you to completely quit the game and restart it. Just be careful not to spam your unit logo and start a new game by accident! To finish this mini-game, you need to kill every single zombie in the area – which means you need enough bullets and bat flips to take them all down. If you reach this point without the required ammo, you will not be able to do so.
Oh, and that doesn’t touch on Ellie, er, Eva’s problem – halfway through the game, you run into her in the library and she starts following you around. If an Eva comes within spitting distance of a zombie, it enters a crouch and will stay there until all zombies have been dispatched. With the limited number of enemies you can kill, this becomes a real problem as it can leave you without enough ammo to finish the game if it’s squatted in the wrong place. You’ll end up wandering along the outside of town, and once you’re down, I hope you can get to the next loading screen before you die.
What makes all of this even more hilarious is the structure. Objectives are laid out in a linear fashion on this U-shaped street. You are always tethered to certain sections of this street until you complete each objective, so there is no opportunity for exploration. From the moment you leave the hospital, the game will offer exactly 15 objectives before you complete them, the only differences are entering the area, searching for items, and leaving.
Well, what else can I say? Products produced by West Connection Limited are the eShop equivalent of a malware-ridden pop-up browser and it’s disappointing that Nintendo would even allow such a product in their store.
This also got me thinking about small projects in general. I mean, check out the unit-based projects created by students at a local university above – they feature clever and interesting ideas with functional mechanics and original visual design. These are the games made by students who are still learning about games and they absolutely wipe the floor with anything West Connection Limited has ever produced.
Of course, we’re not the only ones putting this game through its paces – our colleagues at Eurogamer have already done so – and both Nintendo and Sony have tried to get commentary on the game, but so far, neither company has. to reply.
The final test of hope has been cathartic but also eye-opening. I’ve mostly ignored the shovel-filled digital storefronts and assumed many of them to be harmless, but when you see something like this it really pulls back the curtain on the festering corruption in certain corners of the industry. Last Hope is designed to take your money. There is no game here – it is effectively a scam. We all knew this from the trailer, but the fact that the actual game is so much less than even that outrageous trailer is really shocking. The next time you find yourself looking at something like Redfall or Destruction AllStars and thinking “Oh my God, those are bad games,” I want you to step back, take a deep breath and remember the last hope: Dead Zone Survivor.
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