Last Year: The Nightmare might be the asymmetrical multiplayer killer app

image

There’s probably a word in German for it, but there’s a sincere delight in seeing something you Kickstarter backed (or nearly backed) several years ago re-appear, after you were positive that it had disappeared into the internet void forever. Last Year: The Nightmare was a title that obliterated its original fundraising goal by triple, and I remember being obsessed with the character dynamics in this asymmetrical multiplayer horror game. Today at PAX, we’re finally seeing the result of four years of development. I am as excited for this as I was seeing the title on day one.

Elastic Games brings a Friday The 13th / Dead By Dawn title that involves classic horror trope locations and a big spooky monster. (I actually thought this game got converted into Friday The 13th at some point… for some reason? Glad I was wrong.)

The win conditions for survivors sound delightfully open to interpretation:

For survivors, completing objectives doesn’t have to be done in the same way every time or in a specific order. For example, the keys to the truck are located in the office cabin but the gas is in the maintenance shed on the other side of the camp. You’ll need to decide if the whole group should move together and protect each other, or split up and accomplish the tasks quicker but put yourself at greater risk of attack.

The bigger twist, and what I remember the most about the title’s announcement in 2014, is the system for monster spawning. Essentially, any location that isn’t within the direct line of sight for one of the survivors is a possible spawning location. Behind doors. Behind you. Inside of you. I’m not sure about that last one but it feels right.

AHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHHHH. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHsome.

The game is also set in 1996. Here’s hoping for a few time period specific licensed music cues. You know what I’m saying: Blast the entirety of Beck’s Odelay into my face even if that completely destroys the mood of Last Year. You know that I am right about this.

Brief coverage from PAX East is live now here:

Here’s a video of various map and some gameplay demonstration from late 2017:

You can follow along at the game’s official page.

16 Comments

  1. ChiefOfBeef says:

    So it’s another asymmetrical multiplayer where the minority-side is powerless if the other side even have a clue.

    • April March says:

      It’s still the dream.

      I wonder if the solution to this dilemma wouldn’t be to have a side that has less players but more than one. Wasn’t there a multiplayer mode in a Tom Clancy game that pit a lot of powerful and tough mercenearies against a few weak but sneaky and deadly assassins? Maybe that’s what people should be looking up for inspiration. (Of course, that would mean that, unlike EvolvE and Dead by Daylight, you’d need more than five people to complete a match, and player count is the multiplayer dev’s worst enemy.)

      • treat says:

        Another idea is the antagonist taking on a dungeon master role, where they’re able to set traps, create distractions, or generally muck up the plans of the protagonists. It worked pretty well in mods like Zombie Master, where the master is encouraged to make the game challenging but fun for the rest of the server rather than doing everything they can to win. A move away from that competitive bias is what these sorts of games really need.

        • ChiefOfBeef says:

          That’s exactly how survivor-mains in Dead By Daylight expect the killer to behave; as if their own fun doesn’t matter, they are only there to make sure the survivors get an enjoyable match. DBD has shown that giving them what they want is the worst thing you can do; they simply move the goal-posts and become more demanding, not at all caring about how the people playing killers feel.

          This was caused by the early U-turn by the devs to allow premade survivor groups in ranked play, just weeks after categorically denying they would ever do this because of what it would do to balance. By making this U-turn, they gave up on balancing the game and have only paid lip-service to it ever since.

          Yet without premade groups, Last Year has no chance of doing well when DBD is already there. Friday The 13th enabled groups and went even further by giving an absurd amount of points awarded for remaining the whole match even after your role in it had ended, something which groups are more likely to do. Had F13 not had allowed this feature, it would have done worse than it did.

          So Last Year has to enabled premades, yet be balanced as to assume the killer is always against a coordinated group talking to each other. Killer-mains have been burned by DBD and F13 still fails to meet expectations.

      • vahnn says:

        Splinter Cell, and it was super fun. Unfortunately most people didn’t agree with me and the community died fast, but holy hell I loved it while it lasted.

    • Stromko says:

      Yeah I think Last Year has kind of had its lunch eaten already, they don’t seem to be describing anything that will set it apart.

      Then again, a lot of games that didn’t really do anything new still became explosively popular because it just sorta gelled together and hit at the right moment.

      I wish them the best as it sounds that they’ve been in development for a long time, so they aren’t just bandwagoning onto a fad. If it’s very polished, balanced, and stable it would stand out from its recent competitors in a big way.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Honestly I don’t think it needs to do anything to set itself apart, it just needs to be good. Friday the 13th and Dead by Daylight have pretty much shit the bed when it comes to implementing their ideas, yet they’re still fun. So the more people who try this same thing, the better (until someone finally does it right).

  2. DatonKallandor says:

    The monster spawn system is just Left 4 Deads spawn system though.

    And the “do you split up or not for objectives” is just Left 4 Deads collect items objectives.

    • WhiteHawke says:

      Yeah, I don’t think a lot of people played Versus Mode in L4D, so they don’t remember that idea is… 10 years old. Wow. FeelsOldMan.

  3. treat says:

    People don’t watch Chopping Mall for its terrifying atmosphere and sublime horror, they watch it for the hilarious acting, absurd premise, and one of the best head explosions in cinema history. Schlocky B movies are so horribly underrepresented in this subgenre of games. I’d much rather have a goofy 1950’s looking robot come crashing through a skylight while the player screams “SHOW ME YOUR IDENTIFICATION BADGE, CITIZEN” through some fuzzy voice filter than see yet another silent Jason clone do it.

  4. April March says:

    I remember an old Penny Arcade strip that said that watching someone else doing math is one of the levels of hell. Watching someone else watch a gameplay trailer (that’s already commented) comes really close.

  5. Ksempac says:

    “being obsessed with the character dynamics in this asymmetrical multiplayer horror game”

    So…how is that game any better than all the others “psychotic killer vs survivors” games we already have (such as Dead by daylight), and that you conspicuously fail to mention in the article ?

    The “spawn anywhere” mechanic doesn’t seem to be a game changer in and of itself, especially when the monster is not unkillable (contrary to Dead by daylight). The IGN preview seem to indicate as such, saying the game isn’t very scary.

  6. Don Reba says:

    Visited the comments to see if anyone came up with the German word. Left disappointed.

  7. DatonKallandor says:

    There’s only one asymetrical multiplayer horror game that I know of that actually works and that’s The Hidden.

    And the reason that one works and all the others don’t is because the Hidden isn’t trying to be balanced competitive round based game with clear winners and clear losers. These kinds of games are never going to be balanced and trying to make it into a sport where you can win or lose is why they keep failing. They need to be about the strong monster side delivering the best possible experience, not “win”.

    Not everything has to be a PvP esport where the only thing that matters is the competition.

    • ChiefOfBeef says:

      I’ve always wondered if Evolve would have lasted longer(regardless of 2K cutting a limb off with their DLC plan) if only it had focused more on PvEvP, where it was a tightly-designed co-op game with interesting map-based objectives and modes, which just so happened to have one non-cooperative player as a monster and you didn’t know if they were going to turn on you or not.

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>