Title: The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human
Genre: Action Adventure
Audience: Metroidvania fans
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £11.69 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review copy for this game.
What the developers say
Explore the ruins of the human race and discover the thriving wildlife that blossomed after our extinction in this underwater action/adventure. Encounter monstrous creatures and let curiosity guide you through an inevitable voyage of extinction.
Melancholic underwater atmosphere: We really wanted to show the beauty of the sea as well as our influence on nature.
Exploratory storytelling: The story is mainly told through the art and backgrounds with some textual hints along the way.
Unique conflict encounters: Throughout the adventure, you will encounter — much like Odysseus in The Odyssey — monstrous beasts and challenges that you will have to best.
Polarized gameplay: It’s pretty chill until you’ve gotta fight for your life!
We think it’s important to bring up global issues that have affected our lives and try to give a different point of view: climate change, terrorism, and technological progress.
I’d always looked at The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human (I’ll shorten that to TAAOTLH from here on) and been intrigued by the concept. It’s well known if you’ve read some of my stuff that I enjoy a Metroidvania these days, and I have a deep love for things that borrow ideas from the much vaunted Soulsborne series. TAAOTLH, with its attractive pixel art style and the promise of death aplenty but this time under the sea, ticked all the right boxes when I read about it. So when I was given a chance to review it, I jumped at it.
Looks and Sounds
TAAOTLH has a nice pixel art aesthetic, initially it doesn’t feel as detailed as a few other games I’ve played recently, but there is a lot of detail to be found in the environments and enemies. Humanity retreated underwater when sea levels rose after several thousand years as explained in a short intro sequence. This has led to lots of little-abandoned cities scattering the environment as well as lots of machinery.
Lights peer out of the murky waters, and there’s all manner of sea life milling about to remind you that you’re in the sea and not space. I was never able to suss out the scale though because your dinky little submarine is appearing larger than buildings but smaller than all the fish. There is a nice depth effect in play with more detail becoming apparent the deeper you look, and there are nice little nods to some larger monuments being consumed by the rising tides.
The backgrounds are a rather drab array of greens and browns but what do you expect from an apocalypse? Everything looks right despite minimal detailing, and everything is well animated and the bosses are suitably large and looming. It looks pretty, but I’ve seen better examples of pixel art in many other games recently. The subject matter and the size of things have likely been a factor here.
Music is suitably ominous when fighting the bosses and largely absent or barely noticeable during exploration. There is a clever effect in use that slightly muffles all of the sounds, so it gives the impression of an underwater environment.
Gameplay and Replayability
Players are tasked with exploring the depths of a now flooded Earth. Branching paths with blocked off areas make up the map, and there’s lots of backtracking to be done. Unlockable upgrades allow you clear new paths to get access to one of the multitudes of bosses and the story is advanced by finding many of the data stations hidden around the map. These data stations are worth seeking out as they give more background on what happened and draw you deeper.
The first upgrade adds a harpoon, then immediately tries to kill you as you figure out how to use it. And this is pretty much how you can expect it to play out from there on. Find a boss, kill it, claim an upgrade. You get a booster, torpedoes, a saw and many more and they all come in handy to open up areas or kill stuff more efficiently.
Traversal sees no enemy activity, but there are environmental traps to avoid like mines and burst gas pipes. These quiet moments are welcome respite between the hectic and challenging boss fights. Here the only frustration is the constant backtracking and an often inadequate map that conveys very little useful information other than a vague “you are here, roughly”.
As for the boss fights, expect some nightmare fish. There’s big poisonous ones, a wacky waving multi-armed octopus fight, a mass of stuff and then some cybernetic looking stuff. They’re all big, they all require a bit of puzzle solving and lots of trial and error until they are bested. Some are insanely hard if you don’t have the right upgrades but no doubt there’s someone out there who’s beaten the game with just a harpoon while using a controller made of beans.
There’s very little replayability unless you’re trying to die less or speed run it. As I said, there are pieces of lore to find, but depending on how invested you are in finding out everything that happened they can be easily bypassed.
I enjoyed my time with TAAOTLH but traversing the environment did become a chore at times. Maybe if I’d found “the right way” early, I wouldn’t have had to travel about as much, but it is what it is. The bosses put up a good challenge and it was rewarding beating them which is the most essential part of these games. If you’re up for a challenging adventure TAAOTLH is well worth investing in despite one of two bugbears.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human on the Nintendo eShop at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/The-Aquatic-Adventure-of-the-Last-Human-1488625.html