By Josh Speer / November 11th, 2015
If you’ve followed my recent exploits at PAX Prime 2015, you might recall that there was one game that got away. One game that I looked at longingly while played by another gamer at the Seattle Indies Expo. That game is The Last Shore, by Pulpo Games, and I finally got a chance to play it, thanks to the generosity of its creator Andy Seavy.
While it’s true that The Last Shore is a beautifully rendered game, a strange yet vibrant mix between old school pixelated charm and watercolor painting, it’s far more fun to play. The demo I played on Steam fired on all cylinders, full of charming art, dynamic and uplifting music and simple yet intuitive gameplay. The demo starts out with a few cutscenes that tell the story of a lost infant girl, the main character, found by what appears to be an elderly magician. I say “appears” since The Last Shore eschews traditional storytelling, and instead opts to use visual cues instead of dialogue. Though this could be seen as a negative, thus far it works remarkably well. I would compare it to the style of Shadow of the Colossus, another game which doesn’t do any hand holding, and does so well. As I said, you are given visual nudges in the right direction, but it’s up to the player to ultimately figure out where to go and how to proceed.
It was a lot of fun to try out the areas I watched get played at SIX, and like that demo, I started out making my way by boat to a mysterious temple. This was a starting out point, and thus had no enemies to contend with, although you will find plenty of threats as you progress. Instead, here, after solving some basic floor plate puzzles, you acquire your first weapon — a bow seemingly made out of pure light and metal.
After the game points out which buttons do what with a quick on-screen diagram, you test it out by hitting more plates to secure your escape. However, upon making your way out of the Temple, disaster strikes.
Though it’s not clear what causes it, something riles the wrath of some aquatic deity, and it attempts to destroy the magician who raised you. Though the magician is able to erect some sort of energy barrier, the end result is the seeming destruction or kidnapping of the elderly character. Before you’re able to despair, some glimmer of hope appears in a sparkle of energy that forms a hologram, and thus leads you to your next destination, a fiery volcano brimming with malice.
Here is where the demo really opened up and let me do whatever I pleased. Using your boat, and a helpful mini-map that you can toggle on or off at whim, you can explore the entire world. The openness of the world encouraged me to explore and be creative, and oftentimes I was rewarded for trying new things. I would come across glimmering monuments which expanded into giant lighthouses, illuminating the darkness; by boating over a jellyfish, I realized it boosted me along, making it so I didn’t have to rely entirely on the wind; I found congregations of lights that rewarded me with some mysterious item, and I even found, and quickly fled from, a giant crab that likely wanted to turn me into dinner. I loved being able to go wherever I wanted, and only got frustrated by the sometimes clunky turning radius of the boat and the fickle nature of the wind. I even traveled far enough to reach this mysterious island below…
After wandering for a time, I eventually found the volcano, and plunged into its fiery depths. Here, things got much more interesting, as it was full to the brim with skeletal foes. Using the bow, I was able to make quick work of them, and made my way further inside by decoding a few more puzzles. Suddenly, the game got a lot more ambitious, as I came across my first boss fight, a giant bull skull that floated in midair and rapidly spun bone scythes at me. After making a mess of him, I was rewarded with a new weapon, a sort of gauntlet that gave me a sword made of light! Unlike the bow — which, though powerful, is slow to aim — the sword opens up fast and powerful slashing combos. If these items are just a taste of things to come, I’m very excited for what other relics there are planned for the full version.
I honestly didn’t think it was possible for me to be more impressed with The Last Shore, but I truly am after playing it. Everything about the world meshes really well, it feels utterly unique and the art style continues to captivate me. Best of all, the game is slated to launch a campaign on Kickstarter in the coming weeks, and you can bet I’ll be supporting it. If you like what you see, then let’s do our best to help this cool new indie game get made!
IndieKickstarterPAX Prime 2015PCSeattle Indies ExpoThe Last Shore