Pinning a small group of survivors against one beast of a killer has been a theme since the early horror movies. Whether the killers reasons for killing the teenagers was just, given there is a reason at all, it was only a matter of time before the games started being made with this same set up. After a couple games launched with the survivors verse killer play style, another developer decided to step into the ring and launched their game as one of the first games on the Discord game store.
Elastic Games is the developer I am talking about and their game is Last Year: The Nightmare. This time, it will be a 5v1 set up and this team of survivors aren’t as defenseless as you would think.
When you are in the initial lobby, players are able to pick which of the five survivors they would like to be. If they want to be a killer, they can pin themselves for a chance at being chosen randomly by the games load up. The only reason they wouldn’t be chosen is if other players also pinned themselves and one of them were chosen. This randomize system proved to be pretty even throughout the multiple games I played as it never once put the same person as the killer without letting at least two other people give the killer role a shot.
The game itself is all about the objectives. If you are the killer, you are basically tasks to prevent the survivors from completing their current objective and, of course, stopping them from actually escaping. For survivors, it is all about planning the best way to complete objectives without letting the party get wiped out because they were focused on completing the next step to reach a safe escape. These objectives differ based on the map, but are always the same in each map. They range from collect-and-return, time based activities (hacking computers, moving the crane, etc), and finally the successful escape.
As a survivor, you will want to collect as much scrap as you see while sticking together. Splitting up will mean certain death, but together the survivors are incredibly difficult to kill. The first thing that your team will do is choose from one of the four classes: Assault, Medic, Scout, or Technician. While some are self explanatory, they all have a unique list of items that can be built using the scrap you find. My favorite scrap tool belongs to the Medic who can make a tool called the Shocker. This will allow you to stun the killer two times for roughly five seconds. It comes in handy in multiple situations and even helped me win a match while ensuring all five survivors made it out. If a survivor does happen to be killed by the killer, they will also respawn with a Left 4 Dead style of loading into a random closet that a fellow player will have to open. Each death causes a longer respawn time as well.
(Light cursing in video below featuring two MVP strats as a Scout and Medic from my gameplay)
If you load up as the killer, you actually get to choose between three different killer styles, each with their own perks and specials. None of these killers are invincible and can, in fact, be killed by the survivors! There is a respawn system for you though and when you come back you get to choose a different killer, but can’t be the one you just were as there is a longer respawn rate on the killers themselves. This forces you to learn multiple killers and change the style you play with. My favorite to use was the strangler who uses a chain to wrangle lone survivors into a head lock that slowly kills them and then finishes them with a stabbing. The strangler can also hide in vents to grab and instantly kill unsuspecting survivors that are running by. Each killer has a way to hide for an instant kill and those come down to patience. No matter which killer you choose, this role is all about waiting for your moment and seizing it with brutal force.
I found the load up of each map to be useful though. While it may get annoying once you really understand the game and what to do in each map, it is nice to get a quick explanation on the objectives from start to escape every time a new match starts. It will be even more helpful once they add more maps to the list of options.
Graphics and Sounds
Everything has a bit of a cartoon-like graphic style to it. While this is fine due to it being a more offensive and survival version of a Survivor verse Killer game, it is an interesting choice to go with still. This style does let you get away with more brutal style kills that would have needed more censorship if given a more realistic look.
The sound effects and light music used throughout the game is all very well matched to the surroundings while building suspense. None of it is distracting even when it gets louder during the intense moments that come with interacting with the killer, which is always a concern with these types of games.
There is plenty of replayability with this game as it was made to be an online game for players to go match after match with each other. There is always room for improvement and learning the killers will take some time on its own. There’s nothing to do but get better at the game over time and practice.
What Could Be Better
It would have been nice to have some type of score system. Currently the game only gives you an award if you successfully escape, but this system doesn’t take in to account when players use strategies that include self-sacrifice nor give extra acknowledgement to the player that helped the squad out the most.
There seems to be a small balancing issue, but this could also be a matter of me not being good with the killer at all. It seemed that more often than not, the survivors were able to escape with at least four of the five players, but then there are some killers that just annihilate the entire team no matter what we did. This could be either a balancing issue or a user error, but there are a lot of users making these errors which is what makes it seem to be more of a balancing issue.
There are only three maps to play on currently. While it is a good start, there should be at least five different maps on the games initial start. This would give the players more variety on what to do, since the objectives are set depending on the map chosen. If not more maps, a larger variety of objectives that could change between the different maps would be a good mix as well while making the introduction cutscene to each map more viable as well.
Last Year: The Nightmare is a lot of fun and you never know how a game is going to go. It is a definite direction change in the genre by letting the survivors fight back to the point that they can kill the killer itself. It’s a fresh retake that on the Survivors Verse Killer genre that takes it literally.