The Post-apocalyptic survival game genre is well understood. What makes each one great -- or not -- is how it uses the standard survival mechanics to deliver interesting gameplay and what unique twists it brings to the table. In The Last Plague: Blight, the titular "Blight" is the X factor that aims to make it stand out in the crowd.
The Last Plague: Blight is set after a mysterious apocalyptic event. A strange plague called the Blight has infected the very land and water itself. That has, in turn, made it very difficult to live off the land without getting infected yourself. (And yet, you're going to try anyway.)
Generally speaking, survival games will force you to either start from scratch or with very little in the way of supplies. The Last Plague: Blight falls firmly into the latter category, although your level of unpreparedness is appalling in some ways.
To your character's credit, you have a hand axe, a knife, a backpack, a bedroll, and a handful of dried sausages. However, you have no canteen and no first-aid kit. These are critical supplies that any person going into the wilderness would have with them, and it's a bit of a stretch for you not to have them.
These small graces aside, you have a long road ahead of you. You need food, water, and shelter -- and you have to get these things while avoiding the Blight and fending off hostile wildlife with little to protect yourself.
Your first encounter with said hostile wildlife will most likely be in the form of a coyote. While your axe is a useful tool, it is much less useful as a weapon. It seems all but impossible to time an attack to hit a charging coyote without sustaining damage yourself. You can make throwing spears within the first few moments of a new game, but these are unreliable at best. The lack of a reliable, effective melee weapon in the early game feels like a glaring omission.
Taking Your Time
Doing anything of significance in The Last Plague: Blight takes time. You're not going to chop down some trees and build a wooden fortress in a couple of hours -- you'll spend the first hour or two struggling to erect a simple structure of sticks and leaves.
A big part of the problem comes down to how you get basic resources. You'll need long sticks and sticks in large quantities to simply build three walls and a roof. You have an axe and there are trees all around you, so you'd think this shouldn't be a problem.
You need food, water, and shelter -- and you have to get these things while avoiding the Blight and fending off hostile wildlife with little to protect yourself.
Unfortunately, getting these basic resources is more challenging than it has to be. Chopping down a tree will give you a quantity of long sticks and sticks. Long sticks can be converted into sticks. However, logs can only be converted into firewood, and firewood can't be chopped down into smaller pieces.
Compare this to a game like Green Hell -- you can chop down a tree to get logs. Logs can be converted into planks and long sticks, long sticks can be converted into sticks, and sticks can be converted into small sticks. You'll never have a difficult time getting the smaller resources in Green Hell since you can break down the larger ones, but that's not the case in this Early Access version of The Last Plague: Blight as far as I can tell.
These logistical problems extend to other areas. Clay is another essential early-game resource, but you can only get it by meticulously left-clicking on specific deposits which will give you, at most, a hundred or so grams of useful material. It's very fiddly and it doesn't need to be.
The Blight Spreads
Getting the resources you need would be difficult enough in a standard survival game, but The Last Plague: Blight adds another layer of challenge with the mysterious poison floating across the land.
The Blight itself serves as an actual, physical obstacle. Walk into it and you'll fill up a "Blight" meter. If it gets to 100, you die. Simply put, you cannot regularly traipse through infected areas without ending up dead in short order.
This infection mechanic applies to other aspects of gameplay, too. Any animals you kill will be infected with the Blight, and consuming their meat will further infect you. The Blight's infection mechanic puts you on a countdown until you can find some kind of way to either mitigate the infection or reverse it altogether.
Every new day warns you that the Blight is moving, and I imagine that you will not be able to stay in any one area indefinitely. The pressure is slow, but constant. The contamination can even rapidly spread in your backpack if you pick up an infected item.
The Last Plague: Blight Preview - Final Thoughts
The Last Plague: Blight shows promise. The fundamental survival mechanics are entertaining and challenging enough in their own right, and what little of the story I've seen in around 8 hours of play is intriguing.
You can only get it Clay meticulously left-clicking on specific deposits which will give you, at most, a hundred or so grams of useful material. It's very fiddly and it doesn't need to be.
The hook for this game is also, to my mind, the ultimate deciding factor: how will the Blight mechanic work in the long run? Will it be something that you can counteract with some effort or is the Blight consuming the land an inevitability? This one gameplay element will determine the pacing and challenge of The Last Plague: Blight and whether or not it's something you'll enjoy.
The Last Plague: Blight is a survival game that's worth checking out now if you're a fan of the genre -- and especially if you're a fan of a more challenging experience. That said, it genuinely feels like a work in progress in some respects. If you're looking for a refined, balanced gameplay experience, it may be best to wait a while for the developers to smooth out the rough edges.
TechRaptor previewed The Last Plague: Blight on PC via Steam using a copy provided by the publisher.