Story, Setting, and Style
It's a post-apocalyptic world and the doggos of the world are going missing!!
You play as a big, tough guy named Alpha (with awesome hair) who is joined by his canine companion, T. Juan the talking chihuahua. T. Juan is the brains to your brawn. Together, the two of you travel the wasteland to free all the dogs from mutant evildoers and find out what is going on!
The Last Friend has a fun style with incredibly creative and fun bosses (such as the streamer named #legit who really just wants to make salsa). But, of course, the best part of the game is the dogs. As you play through the levels you are unlocking more breeds to add to your team, with everything from a German Shepherd to a Jack Russell Terrier to help you out. Each dog brings its own special abilities to your game, and (perhaps most importantly) you can pet them.
The Gameplay Loop
The Last Friend is essentially a tower defense at its heart with a good amount of brawler thrown in.
With each level, you have to defend your RV camper from the horde of bad guys who want to take you down. While Alpha is pretty buff and awesome at beating off the enemies, the dogs are the real stars here.
To begin with, you are able to place turrets manned by T. Juan and his crew. Using scrap that you pick up from the bad guys you have taken down (or scrap from some other means) you can place these turrets on the map in lanes to keep the camper from getting damaged. Beginning maps only have 3 lanes, so they aren't too bad but as the game goes on more lanes are added and the challenge grows.
At the end of some of the levels, you are able to rescue another dog. Each dog brings with it special abilities. The German Shepherd can make protective barriers, the Newfoundland has healing abilities, the Pomeranian can shoot fire to burn them all to the ground, and the list goes on.
As you start getting more and more pups added to your crew, you are limited in only being able to choose a few to take with you into each mission. This gives you a little more of a strategic aspect as you decide which types of defensive or offensive abilities you need each time. Perhaps the level with a lot of fire enemies would benefit from the dog with the super soaker? Or maybe you just want to get as many health buffs as you can so you can try to be the big, tough hero.
However you want to play, there's a dog for that.
Don't Forget The Upgrades
Upgrades galore! The Last Friend allows you to upgrade pretty much everything.
In between levels you can go to your camp and use stars that you have gained in the levels to purchase camper upgrades. Your RV can have better protective shields, you can improve your chances of collecting scrap in each level (to build more defenses), or other awesome bonuses.
You can also help your dogs become bigger and stronger!
Using dog treats, each pup can be made stronger. Upgrade T. Juan's original turret to a bigger gun for example. However, even once these upgrades are purchased with the dog treats, you still have to use additional scrap to level them up in the battle.
But it's worth it.
My Personal Thoughts
Before I had a review copy of The Last Friend, I had already played the entire demo on Steam and planned to get the full release. This game is wonderful. In fact, I've been tempted to purchase a copy for Capsulejay to play on a Twitch stream sometime.
It is clever and fun. The levels are quick and challenging enough to hold your attention. The humor is superb.
But, I did run into a few bugs. Hopefully, all of these will be ironed out by the time the game launches, and for that reason, I don't want to discourage ANYONE from trying out this game. I lost my saves a couple of times and I had some other glitches. HOWEVER, I was also playing a version of the game that was pre-release. So take that with a grain of salt.
I also have to add that the developers, The Stonebot, are fantastic. I ran into a very unique (and humorous) problem that I had to reach out to them about. Props to the team there, especially Alessandro, for quickly helping me out, and giving me a good laugh in the meantime. That issue is not something anyone else will have to deal with, but it was exciting to experience. Let's just say, if they add a Dark Souls type setting to this game…I'm prepared. 😉
The Last Friend is a perfect mashup of tower defense, brawler, and CUTE DOGS. Go play it.