I almost ended up skipping the semi-recent Planet Of The Apes films, though I’m glad I didn’t. The trilogy told a surprisingly solid story of self-destructive, tragic war between a declining human race and rapidly evolving primates. Plus, the second was basically a post-apocalyptic Lion King. Planet Of The Apes: Last Frontier (hitting consoles last year, and making the leap to PC today), is an interesting anomaly – it’s effectively a fourth film, or at least a follow-up miniseries. It’s an interactive movie in the most literal sense, more film than Telltale-style adventure. It’s out now.
While developers Imaginati Studios describe Planet Of The Apes: Last Frontier as “a narrative adventure game”, that description conjures up Telltale’s blend of point-and-click adventures, QTEs and subtly branching stories. Last Frontier is a far more passive experience – it’s a film, first and foremost. Every few moments you’ll be asked to make a binary decision, and if you’ve got multiple players you can vote or even use a limited number of vetos to force a decision you believe strongly in. Once you’ve picked, you just continue watching, and see where it leads.
As with Telltale’s games, most of the decisions are minor and merely affect the tone of scenes, although Imaginati say that there are 19 possible endings to find. At the end of each chapter, you’ll also be given a run-down of your decisions and what characters think of each other, aping (sorry) Telltale once more. Plus, there are achievements for going down certain story branches, with terrible names that I can’t help but love. Someone deserves an award (or a slap) for “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Bonobo”.
While the apes in Last Frontier appear beautifully animated (as you’d expect, given the films that spawned it), the human cast don’t appear to have fared quite as well in their transformation from live-action actors to 3D models. They don’t look bad, but they’ve got a little bit of dead-eyed, uncanny valley look to them. Whether that’s a deal-breaker or not depends on you. I’ve yet to see more than a few clips of this myself, and as a fan of the films I’m interested to see how well a story it tells. Perhaps something for the long weekend, to enjoy over a banana split.