Planet Of The Apes: Last Frontier
There’s no denying the technical brilliance behind the rebooted Planet Of The Apes movies, and with The Imaginarium – the company that provided the motion capture technology for the films – on board, Last Frontier is just as committed to eye-popping visual fidelity as its source material.
To describe this stunning virtual spinoff as a game isn’t entirely accurate, your limited input makes the term ‘interactive movie’ a more fitting description. player participation rarely extends beyond flicking the thumbstick left or right to commit to a choice, and when it does, it merely involves a single button press that allows your character to perform situation-specific activities during action sequences. outside of that, Last Frontier is simply one long cutscene.
The action takes place between the second and third films, but intricate knowledge of their events is unnecessary as this tells its own story involving a breakaway band of apes struggling for survival in the rocky Mountains. revelling in the same moral ambiguity as its silver screen counterpart, the narrative concerns the uneasy interaction between these intelligent primates and a small group of humans who are desperate to preserve their dwindling race. you witness the events and make choices on both sides of the conflict, the awareness that neither side is entirely righteous or corrupt adds layers to the delicious decision-making complexity.
Complex, that is, until you realise that you’re essentially guided down the same path regardless of what choices you make, with the only impactful decisions occurring towards the end of the game. Take a stance that goes against where the narrative wants to go and you’ll routinely be overruled, either by another character or simply the game itself, leading to the same situation regardless of your choices. For instance, decide against ape hunting in favour of focusing on protecting the town and you’ll be outvoted, or choose not to toss a rock at a fleeing human and you’ll tackle him anyway, exposing your so-called freedom as little more than a veiled illusion.
It also constantly funnels you down the path towards peace between the two sides, effectively making you go out of your way to witness anything outside of an idyllic conclusion. Unlike in a Telltale game, there are no surprises or red herrings here; every choice is surprisingly shallow, unfolding without any unanticipated developments or outcomes.
While the story is well presented, Last Frontier lacks the exquisite emotional impact of the movies and fails to add anything overly significant or worthwhile to the franchise. Having the means to sway events, form allegiances or advance factions in such a morally grey setting is an exciting endeavour, but when the layers are peeled back, the limited scope of its execution becomes starkly apparent and ultimately makes this a disappointing case of style over substance.
Above: Players take control of the ape Bryn. As the middle child of the tribe’s leader, he struggles between adhering to his father’s demands to keep the tribe safe, and following his reckless older brother who’s set on dominance over the humans.
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