Last Life hands-on: Could you solve your own death?
"Oh, you have to try Last Life," Double Fine's Greg Rice tells me. He's everywhere at the publisher's PAX East booth: playing a TowerFall-like prototype involving firing golf balls at your opponents, setting up Hack 'n Slash demos for players, and making sure the line to meet Tim Schafer is orderly. But he insists I play Last Life, taking me by the shoulder and pulling me to where the game is set up, at a lone station at the end of the booth. "Sam, this is Cory. Go to town."
Sam is Sam Farmer of Rocket Science Amusements, the one-man team behind Last Life. His game is the kind of stylish, high-concept indie adventure game we've come to expect from interesting Kickstarters. I play as Jack Parker, a private dick on Mars who was just recently murdered. Luckily, he's been 3D printed back to life for four hours so he can enjoy the colony's annual Dead Man's Party. That gives him borrowed time to figure out who killed him, and why.
Last Life plays like a traditional point-and-click adventure. In my brief demo, I'm dropped into a bar where I need to meet a dancer contact named Misty. She's upstairs, entertaining in the VIP room, and the robot guard at the stairs won't let me through. By clicking around and speaking with the bartender and a surly patron, I eventually start a drunken fight that distracts the robot long enough for me to sneak by. It sounds like typical fare, but the hook is the noir-style dialogue and abstract-but-futuristic visuals.
The demo ends as I meet Misty, on a little bit of a cliffhanger. "I heard you got shot yesterday," she says. "Tell me, does dying ... hurt?" Heady stuff. Farmer tells me that Last Life explores quite a few transhumanist themes, and I like how these concepts overlap with the protagonist's Chandler-esque narration.
Farmer says that he hooked up with Double Fine by sending his game concept directly to them, and they loved the concept so much that they signed him on. The game shows a lot of promise, but it's also very much in the early stages. Farmer and Double Fine are using a Kickstarter campaign to bring in additional funding to complete the game's first episode, with two more planned for the future. It's at $55,000 with 22 days to go, so funding seems pretty likely. And I get why: from just my 15-minute taste, I can tell that Last Life's world is one I want to explore, and a mystery I want to solve.