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Last Oasis's walking wooden forts drift into early access

Oh, to float above the battlefield on a balsa-wood centipede. On many levels, survival MMO Last Oasis is nothing new – a world where humanity is back at the beginning, feuding tribes fighting over scarce resources. Only, Last Oasis imagines a world where the sole survivors of a devastating meteor-strike are artisan woodcarvers, fighting on the back of fantastical mechanical timber contraptions. That’s one hell of a hook, and it’s one you can try out now on Steam Early Access.

Who said a post-apocalypse needed to be all rusted steel and guzzoline, anyway?

Key to Last Oasis are walkers – massive wooden land-barges, using spindly wind-powered legs to spindle their way across the landscape. They’re explicitly inspired by Dutch artist Theo Jansen’s wonderfully alien Strandbeests, if his unpowered kinetic sculptures could carry a crew of post-apocalyptic scavengers across a massive open world.

See, there’s been a nasty post-apocalypse that’s left most of the Earth uninhabitable, save for a shifting temperate band that spans the globe. Travelling between safe oases, you’ll have to protect your papercraft battlemech from beasts, rival warbands, and even Dune-as-hell sandworms.

As you and your pals amass resources, your walker can grow from a personal pedal-pusher into a veritable walking fortress. Sorta like a Mortal Engines traction city (rendered here by artist Ian McQue) if a bit more ecologically friendly. There’s on-foot combat too, but that’s sort of besides the point, isn’t it? Oh, I’d hate to captain a lollipop-stick battleship, let me punch some dudes instead. Please.

On that, there are parts of the game that seem a little too familiar. Permanent structures can be built up (why?), crafting loops, and that aforementioned combat does seem awfully janky. But then I look at one of those titanic timber tarantulas and think hey, maybe that’ll be alright.

Developers Donkey Crew reckon they’ll spend up to two years in early access. There’s the usual MMO guff to sort out – server infrastructure and the like – and they’ll slowly drip-feed new biomes, game mechanics, beasts and walker types into the game as time goes on. If you want in on the ground floor, Last Oasis is currently on Steam for £19.74/€20.74/$24.89.

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Natalie Clayton

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