Two weekends ago we were fortunate enough to be included in the beta for Last Year: The Nightmare, the upcoming team-based survival horror game from Elastic Games. Each game consists of five players taking the roles of 90’s-era Breakfast Club tropes that must work together to complete objectives and escape while one player assumes the role of the killer that is out to totally harsh on those vibes. We slowly trickled into the ConCal Discord and decided to give it a go. I’ll go ahead and say there are…questionable…directions that have been taken.
Let me go ahead and say it, I absolutely hate how voice chat is setup in this game. The game is launching first on Discord, so voice chat is completely based on Discord. When we stream things, we usually turn off voice chat in the game to avoid sound issues, or at least make it -push-to-talk if we do have to communicate with people in the game. There is no PTT option in Last Year: The Nightmare, which feels like a serious oversight. We tried a few workarounds where we could use voice chat in game and not deal with the echoes, like muting our microphones in the Discord app so voice would only run through the game. For the record, that doesn’t work – since everything is tied to Discord. If you mute in the app it mutes you in the game. Aside from a technical standpoint, sometimes I don’t care to speak to other players I don’t know. Plus, there is no option to mute anyone. It’s not that I don’t want to ruin the team aspect, I just don’t like being forced to communicate with anonymous people in a game in a time where internet anonymity just leads to people being assholes. I can just imagine this game releasing and people blaring music or having a loud argument with mom because it’s dinner time and they’re in the middle of a round. One plus side, though, of using Discord is that you can post a game invite in a channel and people can click to join your game. That is so convenient compared to digging through friends lists or inviting separately.
Other than that, the game itself shows great promise. One thing that sets Last Year: The Nightmare apart from similar games likes Dead by Daylight and Friday the 13th is that the survivor characters are basically just skins. Players are able to make any character one of four classes: Assault, Medic, Scout, and Technician. Each class brings a unique skill to the table and also the ability to craft different helpful items from scrap found around the map. The killer also has several classes to choose from: basically the Tank and Smoker from Left 4 Dead and a generic ax-wielding Slasher from every horror movie ever. The killer is able to roam around unseen in Predator mode and plan their attack by laying traps and deciding where to spawn in and start their killing spree.
One thing that needs some polishing before release is balancing. The killer’s feel too underpowered, especially since most teams will likely stick together. At first it’s creepy when the killer shows up around a corner, but if you have your entire team with you it’s not that big of a deal – you can beat and turret them to death relatively quickly, while your medic tosses out health really quickly. You can also just run the other way using sprints in short bursts as the killers move so slowly even when they sprint.
We had fun playing this beta and are looking forward to see what the official release brings, as long as they fix the voice chat. Last Year: the Nightmare is releasing on PC on Discord Fall 2018 and will release on other stores in the future.