Thursday, 10 September 2015

Last Year

Today I'm going to talk about an asymmetric multiplayer slasher called Last Year. Before you get too excited, the game has been a little quiet since it was almost left in game development limbo as a result of a legal clash with the folks over at Friday the 13th. I'm hoping that writing about Last Year will bring it back into the light, because it seems far too great to disappear into the ether.

The concept behind Last Year, a project that launched a Kickstarter campaign in November of 2014 and was fully funded with 11 days to go in December, is that players control a group of stereotypical teenagers trying to survive, while one player tries to hunt them down in the same deadly, silent way that Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers like to do their business.

Each teenager was going to have a set of skills that might enable them to survive as they tried to complete a number of objectives – based around getting a truck running for a swift getaway. Such skills included the jocks having the ability to stun and trap the killer, or the popular girl being able to spot the killer and display the killer on the map for all to see and avoid. It all helps, right? 

Well, maybe, but across a number of traditional horror environments, such as a summer camp or a high school, the killer was going to be able to teleport into locations unseen, ready to pounce on his prey when they least expected it. Escaped the killer? Nope. He just appeared in front of us. Will this nightmare never end? Unfortunately, it almost did.

James Matthew Wearing, the developer behind Last Year seems like a real fan of slasher movies, and was inspired to make a game that harked back to the glory days of the original slasher films. A summer camp, a man in a mask, and a group of frightened teens; what could be better? Then the lawyers came, presumably wearing hockey masks, representing a case against Last Year for infringing on the copyrights of Friday the 13th. Who knew hockey masks and camps named after lakes were trademarked? 

Never fear, horror and slasher fans alike, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this game. Nothing was said for a long time, and I had begrudgingly buried it in a mental graveyard of games I’d never get to see, but then there was an update on July 23rd. Last Year is alive. Not only is it alive, but it’s been granted $260,000 funding from the Canada Media Fund, bringing the entire amount to roughly $370,000 with the Kickstarter pledges. That’s a lot of slasher dough.

Ever since then, all has been pretty still on the waters of Last Year's Camp Silver Lake (since renamed and/or removed from the game in order to satisfy those evil lawyers). Despite a few tweets to the Last Year account, there's been no more information on how the development of the game is going, or when we might be able to expect something more. I'd never been so excited about a Kickstarter project, so I have everything crossed that we won't have to wait too long before we get to see more of Last Year. I'm ready to get my slasher on.

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