The Strangler holds a knife while atop his dead victim

REVIEW / Last Year (PC)

This year is slowly (or maybe quickly for some of us) coming to a close and last year feels like a lifetime ago. As I get older I wonder how time seems to move faster than it did in my youth. But sometimes I like the fast pace, and Last Year is sure to give you a heart-thumping, terrifying thrill. I’m not talking about the year 2022 but the nightmarish, survival horror videogame from Undaunted Games. Imagine Capture the Flag on steroids. You’re trapped in a haunted house. You can probably draw your own conclusions from there.

The last year of high school has come to an end and Last Year places players into first-person POV as one of six high school students who each have their own set of strengths that will aid them in the fight against a terrifying Fiend. These are, of course,  stereotypical teenagers who might remind you of some of your own classmates from the past, as if the game wasn’t already scary enough. The classmates are trapped in an alternate version of their world and have to team up to fight off the enemies inhabiting it and escape, gaining new abilities and discovering secrets along the way.

The tutorial at the beginning helped me get a sense of each character’s abilities and helped me ease into gameplay but the actual game is a co-op, which makes things better (or worse) depending on who you’re paired with. I’ve played other co-op games where people actually want to win but some people just screw around with others. There is a bit of a learning curve in understanding some of the game mechanics and how to use special abilities for each character, but I picked things up easily enough. 

A group of teens runs along a path carrying weapons

What makes Last Year so unique is that it’s asymmetrical; meaning that there are two teams with very different skill sets and different motives playing off against each other. I love that I can play as a high school student or as a Fiend. Either way, I get to kill someone, though the Fiends are a bit scarier than the group of teenagers. Without giving too much away, think classic horror and formulaic characters you’re probably familiar with, and beware if you have serious arachnophobia. Seriously, the respawning never ends. 

A teenage girls stares in horror at a POV shot of giant spider claws approaching her

Once the game starts, things get wild. It is action-packed, gory, loud, intense, and requires quick responses. Play as a Fiend and guard your territory while being prepared to be attacked by a bunch of youths or play as a teen with classmates to revive you but avoid the monster chasing you. One side isn’t superior to the other, they both have challenges, but I prefer having the support of teammates since I could lure the enemy toward one of them. Maybe I’m the real monster. 

The controls in Last Year are straightforward but I did find that the game is a little glitchy, like getting stuck in a passage and having a Fiend mutilate me, blood squelching everywhere. It’s not the best way to go but I understand that new developers recently took over and re-released the game so I’m hoping that they can work out the kinks and continue to improve on the gameplay. Lobby loading times can also be a pain but if you’re patient and eager to fully immerse yourself, it’s worth the wait. 

Giant spiders crawl towards the foreground, a menacing figure holding an axe stands in the background, and spider eggs appear suspended on the ceiling and on the floor

Last Year didn’t only get a facelift. It’s also free to play on Steam for PC and this game could be your new favorite thing for the spooky season that’s just around the corner. I’ll be revisiting this resurrected game and maybe I can convince some friends to join me in the excitement while resurrecting them along the way. 

Last Year
  • 7/10
    Gameplay - 7/10
  • 6/10
    Plot / Writing - 6/10
  • 8.5/10
    Design / Visuals - 8.5/10

Frighteningly good

Pros + Terrifying, suspenseful, and engaging horror game full of action and collaboration with teammates + Amazing graphics with sound effects that are just as bloody + Fun characters to choose from, though they’re nothing out of the ordinary

Cons – Buggy, ran into some glitches in a few places that halted gameplay – Time to get a game started can be a little slow when waiting in the lobby