I love Action RPGs. However one of the things I, like many among you, have never thought when playing them is that it needs less physical confrontation; so when I saw the trailer for twelve Tiles’s The Last Word, I was intrigued.
The Last Word takes place within the mansion of crazy inventor…I mean esteemed professor Chet Chatters in a time where the elite conversationalists have great power over their peers; with those that manage to get the last word in a conversation holding amazing powers of persuasion over the other participant.
The professor has gathered these elite linguists in order to show off and test his new invention which allows him to get the final say in any conversation he participates in. The machine which bears an uncanny resemblance to a giant mouth hung on a wall works by stopping the professor from hearing any rebuttals.
Apart the occasional clenched fist or teeth gritted in anger, violence has been removed from the equation entirely, instead all battles are a conflict of word and wit. Well actually not so much the words that are used – mainly as there are none – but rather the tone and way the words are utilized.
The turn based conversational battles features three main aspects, the first two measure the players power and tact with the third being a shared movement gauge which determines who gets the last word in the conversation, and in turn wins the battle.
Power is gained by using disruptive phrases, Tact is gained by using submissive phrases which use up your power, while aggressive phrases moves the battle gauge but requires tact to do so. Each type of phrase has three levels to choose from with a balanced effect for all. For example, Level 1 of power earns you +10 power and +2 movements, level 2 gains you +20 power and +1 movement where level 3 gives you +30 power but no movement. Going head first into top level each turn normally results in a quick loss so a balance of which level to use and when is key.
The battle system features some nice quirks and power ups ranging from a small boost to your ability, the starting point of the movement gauge and occasionally a saving grace from losing the battle. This makes it quite engaging when the battle goes back and forth however can wear thin if you have too many one sided battles.
Investigating the machine, the location and the inhabitants through unlockable conversation topics and gossiping with other characters progresses the story. This holds up well in the main however a little more intrigue, as well as a little more flesh on the bones of the characters certainly wouldn’t have gone amiss. There are a number of side quests such as Seymours Diary and finding bottles of wine around the mansion which add some nice touches however there is still the feeling that the story isn’t quite as complete as it could have been.
The fact that I wanted more after the games was completed in a few hours is credit to the setting and mystery solving aspect. The sprite based visuals work exceptionally well, with the use of colour coded silhouettes which took me back to my days of gaming on the commodore 64. A decent selection of music is available, however I would have liked a more chip tune based soundtrack to complete that nostalgia trip.
Flaws aside, it is refreshing to see a studio take a risk in regards to how they approach battles and even though it weakens quicker than I had hoped for. The Last Word is a game I would recommend for the experience and to show support for a studio who’s next title may iron out those kinks and be the next big thing.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 6.5/10 Format: PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of The Last Word by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.