Good Dogs and Great Gameplay Bound Onto The Nintendo Switch
The Last Friend went for walkies last week when Skystone Games let go of the leash and brought a bright mix of tower defense and tail wagging enthusiasm to Nintendo Switch. Seven months after coming to PC, we got back on the road with T. Juan and co to find out if this high-scoring title still holds up.
Road trips with animals can be adventurous at the best of times. For the team at Skystone games, The Last Friend adds in a whole other set of complications. The team behind zombie survival Undying, take us on an entirely different dystopian road trip, think mad max but much fluffier, and follow in the wake of a lone RV owning adventurer and his faithful dog. Rather than go full Furiousa, this charming indie game is all bright colors and comic book graphics, making it suitable for most ages with a little adult supervision. Check out the launch trailer for an idea of the overall aesthetic, but you can expect to see pop art inspired color schemes and angular lines that make everything stylized but entirely unthreatening.
Predictably, the gameplay is just as approachable. A new platform hasn’t changed the game and The Last Friend remains something of a tower defense come side-scrolling beat ‘em up. This mashup of genre classics
continues to borrow elements from games like Plants vs Zombies and Streets of rage in equal measure, presenting a world where the player character must make their way through several stages, knocking out gang members and rescuing a range of dogs. This mainstay of this simple side-scrolling gameplay is split across a multi-laned lineup. Player characters can hop down and along these putting together a series of bashes and basic combos to dispatch oncoming enemies, feeling no different from retro series like River City Girls. However, it’s the tower defense tactics that make this furry outing interesting.
Across the course of this game, players end up hot on the scent of some evil dognappers. Rescuing these four-legged friends is paramount, but this charitable act isn’t all one-sided. As a comic book adventure, The Last Friend provides these dogs with special abilities. Some will be able to man gun turrets, others support defensive walls, some shoot water guns, while others may have more passive options. These rescue dogs are the core of this title’s tower defense gameplay, opening up a range of potential options during encounters. Each time a stage starts, a team of five friends can come with, providing access to a range of different options. There is some natural overlap in gameplay. Some support dogs are more than emotional, providing extra HP and attack to the in-game Alpha character while fisticuffs ensue, while others supporting fire becomes something of a mandatory choice.
None of this is particularly taxing and generally challenges players by simply throwing bigger bosses or more cannon fodder into a stage. That said, this is the beauty of this adventure. The Last Friend is classically simple to pick up, and despite a range of useful progression systems for the main character and accompanying dogs, it never becomes overly arduous.
When things do get chaotic, the Nintendo Switch version of The Last Friend adds in a new assist feature. The addition of local multiplayer adds a new twist to a game we already adored in our PC review, meaning later levels with unending waves of bad dudes won’t be too overwhelming. Just grab another controller and settle into the RV passenger seat to help build turrets, collect scrap metal, and punch out some nefarious dognappers.
Co-op here is, much like the rest of the game, uncomplicated enough to just pick up and play, only becoming chaotic when the incoming problems start to overwhelm you and your pack.
This port of The Last Friend does not lose any of its overwhelming charm on the Nintendo Switch. Despite a squeeze down onto the small screen, the overall light tone persists and animations remain as confident and clean as the PC version, even if the Nintendo Switch isn’t likely to be able to cap out any of our gaming monitors. The gorgeous graphics do still look great while docked, but also hold up well on the Switch Lite’s slimmed-down canvas, never making you strain your eyes. Controller support on PC meant that mapping to any console was always going to be a breeze and the silly comic book attitude remains wonderfully lighthearted. The Last Friend is a great pick up and play experience that aims to delight, and yes you can pet the dog. The Last Friend is available now on Nintendo Switch and on Steam.