- System: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4, Steam
- Publisher: Ludus.Games
- Developer: Stonebot Studio
- Release Date: Late 2019
- Genre: Tower Defense, Beat ‘em-up
One of the cool things about E3 is getting to see and play tons of indie games. Technology and people’s creativity now allows for almost anyone with a good game idea to bring it to life. At the IndieCade corner, there was a game that caught our attention as soon as we heard about it: The Last Friend. Rescue dogs to make your own pack of dog friends and defend them from mutants by beating the hell out of them? Yes, please!
We got our hands on this challenging, cool, and adorable dog-loving tower-defense/beat-‘em-pp mash-up and we have a good feeling about it!
About The Last Friend
In a not too distant post-apocalyptic future, a man—aptly named Alpha—and his chihuahua set off on an adventure to rescue dogs from hordes of mutants and other enemies. As Alpha, you must protect the doggies you’ve rescued and keep rescuing more until no pup is left behind. You must keep the mutants as far away from your doggos as possible both by setting up obstacles and well… beating them up! Rescue all 25 dogs and you can create your own custom dog team that imbues you with special powerups and attacks. A game about rescuing adorable dogs and beating up mutants with cool character design, The Last Friend shows promise!
The Best Mash-up
As a tower defense/beat ‘em up mash-up, you must set up turrets, mines, barricades, and other things to keep the mutants as far away from the van where you and your dogs—seem to—live and keep enemies away by attacking them. It’s all 2D, giving it a purposeful old-school arcade feel that feels nostalgic while still looking and playing like a modern-day game.
Controls are easy, it’s more about strategy. While holding the left trigger, and using the left joystick, we were able to select from a circular menu from various items we could place in a highlighted area on the ground in front of the van with the pups. Since it was one of the first levels, we only had access to turrets so we put those up. It’s easy to see where you can and can’t place items and whether or not you have enough points/tokens to place a new item. As you progress through the game, more weapons and barriers become available for you to set up your perimeter.
Once your barriers are set up Alpha needs to personally beat up the hordes of mutants coming for his pups. Alpha’s movement is controlled with the left joystick with easy to grasp button controls for jumps, attacks, jabs, combos, and doggy-powered specials. More on the last one later.
Multitasking is definitely the name of the game in The Last Friend and you need to be able to strategize and act quickly or your doggies are going to be mutant food. We played a middle level so it felt a little hectic but still manageable being the first time we ever played the game. I imagine starting from the beginning and slowly building up to bigger mutant hordes and juggling several barriers feels less crazy, but still, challenging.
Of course, this The Last Friend was designed with dog lovers in mind and to be sure, they will likely be some of the biggest fans, but even if you’re not a “dog person”, you can’t deny that the cute but gorgeous character design and storyline just capture you. Every dog is unique and has unique traits which, in turn, boost Alpha when they are on his team. Kind of like a pokemon “main team”, you can customize which dogs you want with you based on your playstyle! Some dogs will boost your attack power or give Alpha a special attack power he can use only when that dog is on the van, others raise defense or make him more/less resistant to certain attacks, and so on. Caring for your doggies and giving them treats gives you points and tokens and makes your bond stronger, which also upgrades your dog team. It’s all about the pups!
As you can tell, the dogs themselves never fight. They don’t get hurt, they’re always safe up on top of Alpha’s van—unless you fail, of course… not sure what those mutants have in mind. They are there to support Alpha only. And they are so cute! But cool at the same time! If you couldn’t tell, we fell in love with the character design in The Last Friend. And there are twenty-five different dogs! Ooh, the possibilities…
The Last Friend is fun, exciting, carries a great message, has amazing art and character design, but most importantly, it’s challenging and well-designed. It is a masterfully crafted mash-up of good old-fashioned retro 2D beat-'em-up and tower defense making it that game that both kids and adults will find themselves enjoying for different reasons. The game has already earned several awards and was at IndieCade at E3 because it won recognition and earned its spot. We can’t wait to play the full game!
Stonebot Studio really has something going for them and if you like the idea, The Last Friend is gathering backers now and the perks are pretty sweet! If you become a “True Friend”, the perks include a portrait of your doggo in The True Friend art style! Check that out on their website! Are you a dog lover? How does The Last Friend look to you? Tell us in the comments and stay tuned for more E3 impressions!