A Cult of You
My editor received a Steam Key for this game out of the blue from the developer itself and told me: ‘Do you want it?’ My regular answer is always yes. Not because I’m a game hoarder. I’m not. Seriously, it’s because I’m a good employee. He said something like ‘Last Dogma’ comes out tomorrow. ‘Never heard of it’ was my honest response, so I googled it, and I liked what I saw, even more when I discover that it was a rebake version of a game that came out for Sega Genesis and Megadrive a couple of years ago. ‘Sacred Line’ from the same developer. So I installed ‘The Last Dogma’ thinking ‘Ok, let’s give this a couple of hours’. Great was my surprise when, not even an hour later, I had finished it.
CREATOR: Sasha Darko
The references to ‘Twin Peaks’ in the script and to ‘The Stanley Parable’ on the development are pretty evident and, the David Lynch’s phenomenon is even named on the game explanation distributed in a pamphlet via SteamCommunity. I highly recommend not reading it until you finish the game. It will ruin completely the atmosphere, and that it’s ‘The Last Dogma’ biggest asset.
Our character is Sebastian Arise, an ATF officer following Carlo Estacado a Spanish arms dealer and junkie who stole a number of M4 from US military and is trying to sell them to ‘Holy Intentions’, a cannibalistic Christian cult whose village is lost somewhere in Yugoslavia.
We are in 1999 and the world is different. Well, slightly. US is going for the complete world domination and UK is ruled by Iranian dictator (it looks more Gaddafi to me though). That’s probably why the ATF is way out of their jurisdiction.
Anyway, just at the beginning of this FPS, we wake up near our burning car. We find a hobo named Jacob who used to be part of the cult. He tells us some important information about the cult and we keep going. Then things start to go the bizarre path.
It’s not my intention to narrate the whole plot of the game. It’s convoluted and intricate. Let’s just say that Sebastian gets involved in a three daemons dispute and he ends up being controlled by one of them (a female voice one who goes by the name of ‘Goody-Goody’) against another daemon. A seemingly evil one named ‘The Troublemaker’. Poor choice of name there. Maybe people wouldn’t think you are the bad guy if your name was ‘The Nice Dude with a Trident’.
Anyway, the plot thickens heavily and it’s described by a mix of voice-over (it could use subtitles); in-between levels comic book panels, and random notes.
I ended the game with a strange feeling. Was I being mocked at?
No, I wasn’t. The game it’s not so much a videogame but an adventure where you happen to control the main character. Every time you know where to go and what to ‘do‘ even when is incomprehensible. You have a couple of tasks to follow (search a key at the beginning, kill a couple of enemies with your gun, run, survive) and nothing more. Then you only have to follow an invisible road that takes you to the end. That’s a low point of ‘The Last Dogma’.
Why is structured that way? Probably because the developer Sasha Darko wanted to say something and he didn’t want the gameplay ruining the message. It’s a fair call, but a wrong one. You are making a videogame, and videogames needs more than a certain amount of tension delivered through soundtrack and gruesome or strange environment (both great on their unique ways). A videogame –and one like ‘The Last Dogma’- needs a challenge. This game presents very few and very easy ones at the expense of a good story.
My favorite part of the game was when I was raiding the Underground Base. It was fun to read all the notes and satirical banners against mainstream internet sites (mostly Social Networks) on the walls as the constant breaking of the 4th wall. It would have helped a lot that this game was delivered with a more sophisticated engine. UFPS for Unity3D doesn’t handle textures that precisely and the constant flickering of walls (maybe this is on purpose according to a joke written in blood on a wall in the Underground Base) is annoying. There’s also a couple lightning issues here and there. Nothing so severe, but it hurts the final result.
The soundtrack though, while scarce (also available on Steam Store and composed by Sasha Darko who is also a musician) it’s creepy and helps to get that sensation that something is going to happen. ‘The Last Dogma’ supposes to be a ‘Dark comedy’ videogame, and it probably is, but the environment and the music helps a lot to move the game to the ‘horror’ shelf even when it has nothing too ‘scary’.
At the end of the game you can choose to play the ‘Secret World’ chapter that become available once you find a portal (up to four scattered around the maps). Those will be available on the ‘Select Chapter’ menu.
I truly value independent efforts, and even more when they take risks as high as the ones taken in ‘The Last Dogma’, so while, maybe the final product is not as great as it could have been, it’s fair to say that I’m looking forward to new developments from Sasha Darko and his crew.