Some people put their career above everything else. Even if that career is simply picking products for dispatch.
Kurt is one such person. He’s devoted his life to working for Jüngle, the world’s largest retailer. He’s been so loyal to the company that it’s cost him the love of his life. And now he’s found himself alone as the last worker. But at least he has one friend: a foul-mouthed robot called Skew.
Kurt seems conflicted about his life. Being alone has taken its toll on him, but there’s safety and security in his routine. Does he feel fulfilled in his job? Not really. Is he prepared to do anything about it? Slim chance. A sequence of events soon forces him to make some important choices, however.
Being a narrative adventure, the story that lies at the heart of The Last Worker is undoubtedly the strongest thing about it. It’s got a great script that’s brought to life by actors such as Jason Issacs and Zelda Williams, making every interaction a joy to experience. In fact, with characters designed by legendary comics artist Mick McMahon, presentation as a whole is one of the most endearing things about The Last Worker.
It’s just a shame that the rest of the game, i.e. the bits you play, aren’t up to the same quality. Over The Last Worker‘s brief running time of around four hours, you’ll play through a large number of scenes. Some of these are rather passive, requiring you to do little more than observe events play out with minimal interaction. But many require you to push the story forward by completing an objective.
Ironically, the task that should be the most tedious here proves to be quite fun: actually doing your job. Some days you’ll have to do your shift, moving your futuristic hover vehicle around a warehouse to collect products, checking to make sure they’re correct, and then sending them on their way if everything’s fine, or whacking a sticker on them and sending them to recycling if they’re not. At the end of your shift you’re given a grade in accordance to your performance. Fail to make the grade, and you might have to do your shift again.
Where The Last Worker falls down is when it tasks you with other objectives. Stealth sections, for example, often frustrate due a lack of direction, leaving you to to figure things out via trial and error. And then there are sections where you need to guide a flying device through corridors, Flappy Bird style, which are just awful for numerous reasons. And a general lack of polish doesn’t help, either. One scene had us racing to keep our job, which we repeatedly failed because a cutscene didn’t trigger for us, opening up a valuable shortcut.
With a tale that ultimately forces Kurt to choose between capitalism and activism, it’s also disappointing that multiple choices that determine the outcome of your adventure are left until the very final moments of the game. It renders some of the choices you can make feel at odds with your actions so far. In fact, the final act and subsequent endings are a bit of a let down.
All of this isn’t to say that The Last Worker isn’t worthy of a playthrough, though. Its story is still very enjoyable on the whole, and while some gameplay elements frustrate, others engage you in the right ways. It’s just that you get the impression that The Last Worker could have been something special, and it isn’t.
If you’ve got an evening that you want to fill with a charming narrative adventure, The Last Worker will fit the bill. Just don’t expect it to make a major impact on you. While its story starts out strong, it fizzles out as it reaches its climax, and a number of frustrating gameplay elements suck a little fun from the experience. Thankfully, the strength of its presentation and excellent voice acting will at least keep you determined to see things through.