The Last Word (PC) : Originally Published MAY 29, 2015

Last Word is a word duel role-playing hybrid of Clue, Rock Paper Scissors, Ace Attorney and Tug of war. That sounds insane, but is there genius within the insanity? Originally created within 30 days for the 2014 Indie Game Maker Contest, Last Word finished in second place garnering high praise from the judges. The developer has since remastered and polished the game for this re-release on Steam.

You are Whitty Gawship, a photographer who is invited to an upscale party. Upon arrival you realize that this is no ordinary party, that conversation is means to power. Getting the Last Word literally means everything and everyone is trapped due to a mysterious force keeping them there with a one-way intercom (because how can one get the last word against a one-way intercom that cannot hear you?). Your task is to work together with the other guests to find out why you’re there and find a way to escape.

The graphics are simple; each guest is from a different house so they show up like board game pieces on the map represented in monochrome sprite form by their color and what accessories they are wearing. Whitty is blue with her bowtie, Seymore is grey and has his glasses. When you are talking to someone a detailed drawing of the character appears that is distinctive and well-drawn. A small complaint I have is there should be more expressions for the characters especially in the battles. It would be great to see their faces change as the tides turn instead of the same static picture. The Music is also nice, fitting of the party that you are at. The Soundtrack would be served well if they had a few more tracks. That being said, though the music ends up being repetitive, I never really got sick of any of the music of the game. It is also impressive to note that the composer of all the music is also the sole creator of the game, Merlandese.

The keyboard controls are simple and there is also gamepad support if you would prefer that. The battle system takes some getting used to, as the ingame tutorial and additional learning materials don’t really help the process along. It is kind of just something you have to learn while playing but it thankfully doesn’t take too long to figure it out. You and your opponent are dueling with words across a grid; you have to choose different tones and matters of speech to try to push the meter of your opponent to its breaking point, winning the battle. It’s reminiscent to a game of tug of war. As you level up your character you gain more abilities and can customize your character in different ways. You can have a small advantage in the form of an intimidating handshake, or even the perk of staying in the battle the first time your opponent pushes you to the end. There is even a perk that adds more strategy to the battles in the way of red dots you show up on the grid that replenish one of your meters if you can end your turn on one. By using your skill points which in this game are called bows that you get from battling houseguests and leveling up to customize your character and equip those skills.

Battle is not the only form of game play though. You also must figure out the mystery. You do that by exploring every nook and cranny of a house filled with secrets. You level up your topics of conversation by gossiping with the other people in the house and then you can unlock new conversations and secrets with your new found knowledge. Each chapter adds new conversations, new things to gossip about and new areas of the house to explore.

The Mystery of the estate is intriguing; the characters are distinct and stand out. From the jovial Judge Boasting, to the timid Seymour Saymore. There is humor in the writing; almost everything in the house is able to be interacted with. Your intelligence and attentiveness to the plot pays off with many of the secrets requiring you to remember what everyone is saying.

Last Word is a short game but finding all the secrets can take time. There are challenge battles, multiple endings and the game will make you want to jump back in to find anything you may have overlooked. The battle system though daunting to learn at first is original and fun. Last Word teases a sequel and I hope that the Twelve Tiles follows up on the tease. Merlandese has created a solid game with a colorful cast of characters and a great soundtrack. My last word about Last Word is that I want more of it.

Score: 8

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