Indie studio Zachtronics has announced its latest game. Last Call BBS is a collection of puzzle games with a retro gaming computer framing device, and it's coming to Steam and PC Game Pass next month. It's also going to be Zachtronics' final game as a studio.
Last Call BBS is Zachtronics' final game? But why?
Best known for curious but compelling games like Nerts! Online, iconoclastic indie developer Zach Barth, who heads indie studio Zachtronics, has unveiled his latest game, which he's also saying will be his last. Last Call BBS is a "full set of puzzle games", all of which are played via the retro Z5 Powerlance computer in the world of the game. The games all look like exactly the sort of thing you'd expect from Zachtronics; there's a model kit assembly sim, a food court factory game, and a rather curious-looking horror-esque puzzler apparently called X'Bpgh: The Forbidden Path. You can check out the announcement trailer for Last Call BBS right here.
So why will this be Zachtronics' last game? In an interview with the developers behind educational RPG TwilioQuest, Barth said he's already working another job; apparently, he "thought [Zachtronics] would be done sooner", so he's been working as a teacher and simultaneously developing the game at the same time. Teaching seems like a fairly obvious profession for someone who made his entire gaming library free for schools (an initiative Barth tells us will continue), so I'm not surprised to hear that. However, Barth told us that he's just wrapped up his first year as a computer science teacher, and that it's "definitely also [his] last", so we're not sure what the future holds for him yet.
As for why the game is the last Zachtronics project, Barth told us that although his team was "very good at making Zachtronics games", they didn't feel able to branch out and do anything else, so it was "time for a change". He says he'll be trying various things in order to see what works and what doesn't, and that since he enjoys designing, whatever he does next "will include some component of that". Right now, though, he and his team have "no specific plans" to make anything else, even under a different name.
What is Zachtronics and what kind of games does it make?
Even if you haven't heard Zachtronics' name, you've probably heard of some of its games. This is the studio that's responsible for SpaceChem, TIS-100, Infinifactory, and Opus Magnum, among others. Lest you think Zachtronics only makes quirky puzzle games, though, think again; the studio has also released visual novel games and tactical strategy titles as well. Zachtronics games generally foreground logic and reasoning over twitch reflexes or mechanical skill, though, and regardless of genre, this is usually a hallmark of Barth's games. This idiosyncrasy gave rise to the term "Zach-like", used to describe games in which players solve problems organically and with minimal instruction.
It's not clear whether we'll be getting any more games from Barth in another form. After all, in the TwilioQuest interview, he describes Last Call BBS as "the last Zachtronics game", but he doesn't specifically say it'll be the last game he will ever create. For now, though, it's safe to assume we won't be getting any more Zach Barth games for a good while. In the meantime, make sure you wishlist Last Call BBS ahead of its release on July 5th.
Story was updated on June 20th with comments from Zach Barth