The Last Night dazzled at Microsoft’s E3 press conference with its incredible visuals, and I had an opportunity to meet with Tim Soret, Creative Director, as he talked about The Last Night‘s development, visuals, gameplay, and more. The Last Night is very much a work in progress, so I didn’t see any in-game footage really but did see how certain scenes were created from the trailer in the Unity work environment. In our near 30 mins together, Soret packed in a lot of information on where he sees The Last Night going and what he wants to do with it.
The Last Night’s Visuals
First, let’s get what everyone is talking about out of the way, the visuals. It was stressed to me that everything in the trailer, linked above, was in-game, not touched up or created afterwards as a cinematic. Having seen it in action myself in the Unity work environment, I can confirm that.
Everything you see is 2D pixel art displayed in a 3D space, which I know can be hard to believe but that’s what makes it all the more impressive. Soret showed us what The Last Night would look like on that 2D plane, and it looked fine, but it beyond pales in comparison to the 3D version of the game. I think that comes down to one of the biggest reasons The Last Night is so striking: the lighting.
If you take a look throughout that trailer, you’ll see what I mean. The lighting creates the drama, accentuates the spots that need, highlights the areas of focus, and gives the 2D figures on the 3D display the depth they need. Without it, which Soret also showed us, The Last Night still looked great and intriguing, but when he turned the lighting effects back on, it was like a whole different game.
This is all driven by Soret’s desire to recreate the nostalgic look of 16-bit games the way he remembers. Most games you ook back at now look terrible when compared to your memory of playing them the first time. Just look at something like reviews of games from a long time ago speaking of how incredible visuals and graphics were, more than a few mentioning how “lifelike” same games were getting, when we know that’s not the case at all, even today.
Tim Soret described The Last Night as a “sensory game.” That’s why he wants The Last Night to feature a lot of different locales, weather effects, and environments, so players can feel the environments. To help facilitate that, Soret’s background in film and inspiration from Studio Ghibli’s movies to make the game look like it does.
He also mentioned the final version of he game will feature “more care” than the trailer in terms of visuals. Well, if he can deliver, I can’t imagine people failing to marvel at the many environments he wants to have in the game.
The Last Night’s Story and World
More than just the visuals, though, Soret went in-depth with the themes he wants to explore in The Last Night as well as the world it takes place in.
Soret said he wants a fresh take on the cyberpunk genre, to bring back the future. Cyberpunk as we know and have known it is coming closer to reality and further away from the future; we have things like crypocurrencies, drones, etc. that were once science fiction. He wants to make cyberpunk futuristic again.
The future of The Last Night would feature things like technology that could generate a show or movie for you on the spot based on your preferences. You didn’t want a character to die? Change it. That’s the sort of technology that would surround the world of The Last Night.
The biggest part of The Last Night‘s future is the change in the role of life. Machines have replaced basically every job and the primary concerns and goals of humans have evolved from survival and work to pleasure. This brings up all sorts of philosophical dilemmas, like how does a person define themselves in a world without work? People now strive for careers in a certain line of work and one of the first things you may learn about something is what they do for a living.
People still need something to occupy their day, so their life may get “gamified.” Questing and grinding may become a part of real life, businesses can track, without you doing anything, how often you’ve eaten one of their burgers and you may be up for a free one without knowing.
So that’s the world of The Last Night, or at least a glimpse of it, as Tim Soret sees it.
As for the story, The Last Night‘s main character is unable to participate in this futuristic world thanks to a childhood accident. So he is obviously frustrated and that continues to grow until it gets to the point that he wants to change the world. So the story follows that character’s drive to do so as he finds people to help him. Soret said he wants to make the game itself as deep as the visuals, with a comprehensive version of the future he has created.
The Last Night’s Gameplay
The game is about interaction and choices. There are NPCs everywhere, the main character has neighbors, and the discussions and choices the player makes affects the NPC interactions later. It takes place over the course of several nights and players will still have to deal with the day to day and ordinary, like paying rent, while trying to change the world.
Everything happens in real-time, meaning that if you choose to break into someone’s apartment, you better get a move on to do what you want as there are police that will get there at some point, most likely. It’s not a “you broke in, now spend as much time finding the thing” sort of game. NPCs will be at certain places at certain times, police will be patrolling, and more while you move throughout the world. Soret stressed this is where all of the hardware power will be going, the AI. The visuals, while impressive, aren’t all that taxing to display, freeing up the hardware to spend its time working in the background on all the things the NPCs are doing.
The Last Night takes its inspiration from classic point and clicks for its gameplay in an open world setting full of many different hubs to explore. It’s not a power fantasy in the slightest; Soret said he is far more interested in using something like a gun as a tool of persuasion than something to actually shoot people with.
There’s still a long way to go on The Last Night, so who knows how much of the above will stay true or change over time. Right now, this is what Soret’s goal is and what he envisions for the game. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this for more as development progresses.
If you want to know more about this and other announcements happening at E3 then be sure to check out our E3 2017 Coverage Hub.