What constitutes a game? Is it the opportunity to enhance your knowledge, increase your skills, or to just have fun? Should a game be something that fully immerses you in its environment, pushing out a landscape that crosses boundaries that were never thought possible, whilst delivering memories that last for years to come? Or can a game just be any old throwaway piece of consumption that just so happens to find a place on your favoured gaming machine? In the case of The Last Scape, it’s most certainly the latter. And honestly, I’m not even sure how that has happened.
I’ll get straight to the point: The Last Scape on Xbox One is a poor game. It provides little in the way of entertainment, it fails to ever let you enhance your skills, and at no point will you be wowed or immersed by what it brings. In fact, I’d struggle to be able to sit here and tell you that you should be giving it a go even if it was a free download. Yes, the low price point may tempt in some, but even then the overwhelming majority will be left seriously regretting that purchase.
The Last Scape promises to let you glide through a vast open world in the search of memories. And whilst that set up could well open the experience up to all manner of increasingly interesting prospects, it fails to deliver on that. Actually, it fails to cover even the basics needed of a game.
Set up in a glider that you never see, The Last Scape pushes out a Spanish alpine scene, one which has apparently been created via LIDAR laser scan data which has been utilised in its raw point cloud form, rendering millions of points in real-time that accurately depict the real world. Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s some fancy words right there, and to the layman that should make The Last Scape one of the best looking titles available on the modern console.
In reality, it fails on every single level. Instead what we are given is a muddy world that, whilst looking decent from afar, fast turns into a pixelated mess whenever you dare to get up close, so much so that at points you’ll not have a clue where you are, what you are looking at, or where you are going. It’s not helped by the fact that throughout the open world of The Last Scape – a fairly small open world at that – any collision with the scenery or environment will either see you bouncing along like nothing has happened, or crashing through into the mesh of the underworld, before hoping and praying that you pop out the other side. When that happens it’s a mess, a real mess.
Flying across this Pyrenean landscape is all you will be doing in The Last Scape, with the major selling point being the opportunity to discover answers to why this is your only memory. Or at least that’s how things are meant to play out because, again, reality is very different. Instead you’ll be left to work out that flying through rings is the main objective throughout, spinning and diving as you spot a new one on the horizon, before heading through it and then circling around for more. With multiple rings in place, as and when you stumble upon the very last one – and hope that the game registers that you have flown through it – you’ll be taken to a closing cutscene where the game will end, with you no doubt wondering why you were bothering to waste 15 minutes of your life in doing so. I think the fact that there are achievements in place for ‘beating’ the game in less than 11, 10 and 9 minutes respectively ensure that things are really hammered home.
The problem is, whilst flying through rings is nothing new, the absolutely horrible control scheme that has been implemented here just makes the already boring task even more arduous. With the left thumbstick controlling your glider, and then combining with the right to affect roll and yaw, you’ll constantly be finding yourself upside down, inside out and all over the place, just frantically attempting to gain a foothold on how things work. Throw in a push of the trigger to speed things up slightly when it takes your fancy, and what should be a simply delicate control system fast turns into one of chaos. Just like the rest of the game.
You should also bear in mind that I’ve been playing The Last Scape on the best of the best – an Xbox One X. And it is here where another few USPs come to the fore, with promise of a higher resolution of visuals, double the density of the 3D points, a greater quality of cloud and a bigger draw distance all in place. If that’s the case, I feel even more sorry for those who have to take in this game on a standard Xbox One as, the quality of the cloud withstanding, the rest are no great shakes. But hey, there’s hope for the future – The Last Scape comes with the lure of Smart Delivery, meaning this will be playable on Xbox Series X when the time comes. Oh joy.
If you hadn’t realised already, I’m not a fan of what The Last Scape delivers. It just feels cheap on every front, and other than spending some time trying to navigate through a few rings, it fails in terms of gaming. But that said, there is one aspect which is passable, and that is in terms of the audio. Any game that requests you to utilise headphones from the get-go gets a thumbs up from me, and that is the case here as the sounds thrust towards your eardrums are highly relaxing, fairly immersive, and pretty wonderful at setting the scene. It’s just an utter shame that everything else which accompanies it ruins things.
Whether or not you should purchase The Last Scape on Xbox One boils down to what you want from your games. If you’re happy to take a punt on an experimental title that is massively short on gameplay and ideas, then the low price kind of allows it. But on the other hand, many will consider this another one of those throwaway experiences that don’t really belong on Xbox One. And I’m in that latter camp, for this provides very little in the way of entertainment.