Game review: Last Scenario
- Title: Last Scenario
- Developer: SCF
- Platforms: Windows
- Price: Free
Made using RPG Maker XP by SCF, Last Scenario is a typical jRPG with typical jRPG weaknesses. It stands out vis-a-vis other RPG Maker RPGs primarily because it has some nice custom graphics. While most of the tilesets used in the game are stock RPG Maker sprites, Last Scenario has some really lovely character portraits and in-battle character sprites unique to the game.
Last Scenario is, at its heart, a Final Fantasy clone. It possesses the same linear town-dungeon-boss-town-dungeon-boss structure of a Final Fantasy game, as well as a mini-game that bears more than a passing similarity to a certain mini-game in Final Fantasy 8. Even the name itself, “Last Scenario,” is a take-off on “Final Fantasy.”
Last Scenario’s battle system, however, is technically more akin to the Phantasy Star system. Believe it or not, this actually hurts the game. There is no “active time” element to combat, everyone moves in a set order, and characters are—for reasons I cannot even begin to understand—limited to a maximum of two spells apiece by default.
The net result of all this is that the combat possesses virtually no tactical variety. Last Scenario lacks the spatial element of combat in games like Avernum and Caravaneer, and also lacks the timing and damage management aspects of a game like The Spirit Engine 2. You are, at the end of the day, stuck trading blows in infuriatingly dull random encounters whose only purpose is to whittle down your health and force you to use healing items while you slowly accumulate gold and experience points. I haven’t played a game that takes this tack for some time, and I had honestly forgotten how profoundly irritating it is to be randomly attacked every 10-15 seconds while moving around.
Even more irritating is that the game scarcely ever refills your health and magic points, even after your characters have clearly just gotten a full night of sleep, so you are forced to waste healing items or spend money staying at an inn. Bizarrely, the game won’t let you sleep in your own bed. You have to stay at an inn to go to sleep in your own hometown. I can think of no reason for this other than to force the player to expend precious gold, requiring him to then fight more battles to make it up.
Like most jRPGs, Last Scenario trades on its story, not its gameplay mechanics. Last Scenario’s story isn’t brilliant, but it’s fairly mature for what it is. People die. You’ll see blood. The higher-ups in the military plainly don’t care about the grunts. There’s even a little bit of political intrigue.
I can’t say that I like the characters, though. Your main characters include an angry, butch, female soldier who yells constantly; a grim but empathetic healer; a strangely bland amnesiac outcast with in-born magical talent fleeing from the clutches of an evil kingdom who wants to use her; and of course, you have your hero, Hilbert, cast from wherever it is that these RPGs import their young-men-obsessed-with-protecting-everyone-because-they-couldn’t-save-their-families-when-they-were-five-years-old. Not one of these characters has a sense of humor.
Hilbert, the protagonist, is particularly bad. I find him about as interesting as a wooden post, and a little less smart. In fairness, the creator does seem to have done this intentionally, as he undercuts Hilbert’s naïve expectations about what it means to be a hero fairly regularly. I can appreciate this as an attempt to subvert the tropes of older RPGs, but the execution is just a touch too heavy-handed, and in the meantime I’m stuck playing a complete doofus.
The Verdict: 2/5. Last Scenario is decent for an RPG Maker game, but below average by any universal metric. While it has some very nice custom graphics, it relies on tired, lackluster gameplay mechanics and grinding to pad out its length, and its narrative elements just aren’t strong enough to save it.
Special note: For reasons that apparently relate to SCF’s choice of fonts, Last Scenario does not display any text when run on versions of Windows more recent than XP. I had to play it on my netbook in order to write this review. Consider yourself warned.