I cannot tell a lie, The Last Dogma is an abysmal abject failure. Even some of the worst games have some kind of redeemable element, something to make them worth the effort of going through the motions. The Last Dogma, a lackluster first-person shooter by indie developer Sasha Darko, is one of the few exceptions. The only good thing about this game is its potential, even if it never bubbles to the surface. But where to begin?
The trouble starts with the story which, ironically, is where its true – and only – real potential lay. The game is set within an alternative reality, and we join the horror beginning in 1999 where the world is on the cusp of the new millennium. In this reality, the United States is seeking world domination because the country isn’t satisfied with the outcome of the Cold War which, sadly, seems like a very long grudge to hold. You are Sebastian Rise, an ATF agent tasked with eliminating local arms dealers in this crazy new reality where the Queen of England has been ousted and is now ran by an elected Iranian fellow. The story goes downhill from there but luckily it doesn’t have much of a distance to fall.
Sebastian’s world (and this awful story) begins to unravel horrifically when, on a mission, you’re transported to the year 1366. You find yourself inside a camp of cannibalistic Christians who worship demons that feed on emotions. Because of this twist of fate you have the ability to change history so that the Cold War comes up all red, white, and blue. In your world this never happened (which is why you want to change it) so you’re being a good patriot by setting out to change the future. The timeline you live in was never supposed to happen but did due to the interference of these demons. Without knowing any of this, you’re actually trying to set the timeline right. Time travel is hard but following this cockamamie story is harder.
Alternative history storylines make us ask, “What If?” and that is exciting because we have the opportunity to use our imagination. There are unlimited possibilities and this alone gives this sin to gaming a glimmer of hope. In the end, it’s like getting excited over a chocolate molten lava cake on your diet cheat day just to discover the chef used salt instead of sugar. Simply put, the story is an epic disappointment but the failures don’t stop there.
The graphics look unfinished and just sad; barely fit to be placed on the refrigerator next to a 3 year old’s artwork. Because of the dark and surrealistic agenda of the developer, everything just seems cloudy and sometimes indistinguishable between a mass of misplaced pixels or an actual object. This noir-like darkness serves to set a certain mood but it borderlines on the monochromatic which is awful to look at for long periods of time.
Text is the method in which to engage the player in both dialogue and story with minimal voice acting to torture you. It’s a lot like reading Facebook posts by that one guy who doesn’t know how to spell, always TYPES IN CAPS, or can’t use the proper form of to, too, or two. To say this game is illiterate would be a gross understatement and an insult to illiteracy. In games that rely on text you expect perfection but understand a slip here and there but The Last Dogma is riddled with sloppy mistakes that could have easily been avoided.
Gameplay in The Last Dogma is what you would expect from a first-person shooter: you and your gun charging bodiless into danger. Yay. Your tutorial, which is sadly the best part of the game, goes over a few of the finer points of the controls. There is a fair amount of your standard keyboard mapping for firing and basic movement, however, environment interaction is a bit of a cluster. The keys that you use to interact with the environment depends on what you’re interacting with which makes something that should be simple overly complicated.
Additionally, you can’t strafe and it took me over an hour to figure out how to fire my gun. When I did, nothing happened to the people I was shooting. The point of a first-person shooter is to shoot and kill things, right?
For me, I like to use a controller for FPS games. Depending on the game, this don’t always translate well. Taking a game like DOOM and putting it onto a tablet is a very bad idea because it’s not meant to be there so because of that you don’t expect much out of the experience. The Last Dogma lacks controller support so we lowly plebeians must rely on the awful keyboard controls which you can’t remap. You also can’t change mouse sensitivity so be prepared for hyper-speed. Good luck.
The environments are surprisingly interactive – but don’t get too excited because disappointment follows. You’re able to drag and throw things as well as read notes but the controls aren’t fully responsive and you have to do it “just so” or you won’t get much accomplished. As you move through the environment you will find that your character gets stuck on bits of the backdrop. The artificial intelligence s a special kind of stupid as your enemies sometimes just stand there and let you pick away at them while others move around like they’re on speed. This game is so frustrating that it should be prescribed to people with anger management issues because if they can resist punching their screen they’re cured.
Every game has issues, nothing is perfect. Most of the time we can see beyond these imperfections because the good moments are worth the effort. The Last Dogma isn’t fun, and far, far from perfect. It’s an excruciating and incurable hot mess of a game whose only redeemable quality is a story idea that never takes hold or makes much sense. Even forgetting said story, it makes for a lousy shooter for those just looking to just blast away and kill stuff. There are scores of great – and mediocre – shooters on the market that would make a better choice; don’t waste your time or money on this one.