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Review: Last Encounter (PC)By Gabriel PVJ Jones At 07.05.2018 19:29

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In the increasingly crowded and cutthroat world of videogames, roguelikes are becoming harder to sell by the second. There have been some unique twists on the genre, such as the rogue-platformer Flinthook, and the roguevania A Robot Named Fight!. Both games offer their own blend of clever mechanics and methods of progression to create fresh experiences. For others, such as Starward Rogue, tradition is the key to success. The focus is on ensuring that every aspect is superbly crafted and thoroughly balanced. Where does that leave Last Encounter? This is a roguelike twin-stick shooter that ticks the necessary boxes, but lacks in creativity and polish. When taking the competition into account, this one feels more like a shallow diversion. Still, even a diversion is worth undertaking, as long as it's fun.

Before entering a space-time portal and taking on galaxies filled with ruthless aliens, players must decide on their pilot and ship. This decision won't have a dramatic effect on the run, but it's still worth taking a moment to decide the traits and special abilities that best fit personal play styles. While navigating the research station, they are liable to notice the large assortment of weapons, although almost all of them are currently inaccessible. This predicament will be resolved in short order. A handy tutorial also helps newbies acclimate to the ship's controls. The basics of moving and shooting are easy to grasp, and special functions, such as the dash, help to keep combat engaging.

Now an entire galaxy that actively despises any and all who approach seems a bit much doesn't it? Well, in this game, there are several. These galaxies all have a specific theme, and they are made up of sectors teaming with alien lifeforms unique to them. One galaxy, for example, consists almost entirely of plant life, and their deadly poison can even chew through a spaceship's metal plating. Pilots must explore every sector in the hopes of finding keys and weapons. Keys unlock the portal to the next galaxy, while weapons make killing a little bit easier. Thanks to the generous amount of power-ups scattered everywhere, survival isn't too much of a problem, provided one doesn't frequently rush headfirst into danger.

What makes the weapon system interesting is that it's divided into three components. These components can be combined to create awe-inspiring displays of mass destruction. By putting together the rocket, flak, and sixtler components, for instance, the pilot will be able to create the Fourth of July with a single press of the fire button. Six rockets will fill the air, and then they will explode into more rockets. At first, ammo is quite limited, so devastating spectacles are hard to come by. However, money earned while exploring the galaxy can be used to research discovered weapons. With what can be considered a nominal investment, these components are permanently unlocked.

While there is amusement in experimenting with every weapon combination, the level of difficulty suffers immensely. Whatever advantages the enemy had are quickly eradicated, when pilots can immolate everything around them in a ten parsec radius. Since money is extremely easy to come by, it doesn't take long to unlock the most powerful components, and tear through entire galaxies without a thought. With the right setup, even the gimmicky end-boss is trivialised. If players are to get the most out of this, they are going to have to exercise restraint. That means going without the most explosive weapons, and cutting back on the generous armour and shield upgrades. Eventually, all that will remain is the lousy pea shooter that they started out with.

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In short, [i]Last Encounter[/i] has a neat concept, but fails to follow through with it. A good challenge is the lifeblood of a videogame, especially when it comes to roguelikes. If the level of difficulty is incapable of matching and growing with the player's skill and arsenal, then there's no purpose in continuing to play. Before long, what should be a thrilling run deep into enemy territory becomes nothing more than a thirty-minute spectacle of light and sound. Anyone who picks this title up will inevitably face a tough choice. Do they make full use of the overpowered weapon system, knowing that they will rarely have any fun, or do they ignore everything, thereby stripping the game of its identity?

4

/10

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