At first glance, I was thinking The Last Friend was a new Beat ‘Em Up-style game. This got me really excited after recently beating River City Girls and Streets of Rage 4. It wasn’t until I started playing that I realized it was more of a tower defense game. It’s actually a mix of the two genres, with a heavier emphasis on the defensive — The Last Friend is a defensive brawler.
Once I began playing through different levels of The Last Friend, I was immediately taken back to a few years back when I became obsessed with Plants vs Zombies (on my iPad). Setting up my defenses (turrets, traps and barriers) took me back to the original Plants vs Zombies days, pre-Garden Warfare.
Over the years I’ve tried out more and more tower defense style games, and something I usually can’t stand is not being able to take care of enemies invading your space on your own. It’s nice to have the “in between time” to set up traps and defenses, but once the wave begins it’s much better if you can damage enemies with melee or some type of combat. The game also features a two player co-op mode, where you and a friend can stop the hordes of mutants together.
In many tower defense games, like Plants vs Zombies and Pixel Junk Monsters, your only hope for defeating hordes of enemies are the defenses you set up. I recently played some tower defense games from the Dungeon Defenders series and those are great because you can run around killing enemies while your objects also do some of the work.
The Last Friend is closer to the latter, where you’re able to fight the masses as they attempt to invade your trailer. You can punch and throw the mutants and gangs trying to take you down. This adds a whole new element to the classic PvZ-style tower defense gameplay. The ability to beat up enemies takes away part of the anxiety from watching them tear apart your defenses.
The art style of The Last Friend is very simple and clean. It’s the slight use of shadows and lighting that make the dogs and characters stand out against the backgrounds. Above are some images from the opening of the game, but the same art style is used throughout the entire game. Below, are some other images including some neat bumpers that would make really cool posters.
Also, I forgot to mention that you have an army of dogs (or doggos) at your side. All of your weapons, turrets and skills are all operated by different dogs you have rescued along your journey. You even get to name each dog, which is a fun little detail.
The Last Friend takes place in some sort of post-apocalyptic world where mutants and evil gangs are trying to ambush you and take your goods. Your only hope is working with Man’s Best Friend.
After each mission you rescue a new dog to join your team, and your team will continue to grow as you play. The tricky part is setting your lineup for each mission, since you may only use a set amount of companions per level.
All of the dog rescuing, plus naming your new dogs, feels like the Humane Society is behind this game. It’s like they had a marketing meeting and decided that it was time to tell more gamers to rescue dogs.
I don’t really believe that. It’s more likely that the team behind this game just happens to love their doggos.
In the past week of playing The Last Friend, I made it through the first area in the map (collecting all of the stars, three per level). Will I continue playing this game? I’m not sure if I will continue playing the next area right away or take a break. This game has actually got me more excited to go back and revisit Plants vs Zombies.
The Last Friend releases on Nintendo Switch on April 21, 2022.
The game was previously released on other platforms.
*myVGBC.com was provided a review code for The Last Friend from the publisher.