“Everybody is talented because everybody who is human has something to express.”
— Brenda Ueland
Hello again, brothers and sisters!
With so much of my recent work focusing on Halo I decided that I would take a little break from the franchise for a week or two. I’ve got a handful of non-Halo topics planned for the end of October and beginning of November, and I figured there wasn’t a better place to start than by discussing what I think will possibly be the most intriguing game to come in 2018: The Last Night.
So! Without further ado, let us begin.
A Unique Dystopia
Many of you are probably wondering how I could have anything worth writing about for a game that’s roughly an entire year away from launch. Normally, I would agree a year is way too early to say much of anything, but The Last Night’s synopsis alone tells me more than enough in order to, in my opinion, warrant attention.
The title’s Steam page reads:
“Humans first knew the era of survival. Then they knew the era of work. Now they live in the era of leisure. Machines have surpassed human labour not only in strength, but in precision, intellect, and creativity. The fight for survival doesn’t mean food and water, but a purpose for living. People now define themselves by what they consume, not what they create.”
If the game’s cyberpunk art direction hasn’t already clued you in to the type of atmosphere we’ll be immersing ourselves into with The Last Night, than this overview of the game’s setting should make it abundantly clear that developer Odd Tales has been heavily inspired by the cult classic Blade Runner.
Regarded as one of the most well made noir films of all time, Blade Runner, with its dystopian portrayal of the near future and of artificial intelligence technology, asked the world a question. What does it mean to be human?
The preview information of The Last Night informs us that the game, too, will take this approach. But Odd Tales is taking the themes introduced by Ridley Scott’s film in a bit of a different direction. Like Blade Runner, The Last Night constructs a world in which AI creations exist with us on equal footing, even surpassing us in physical strength and agility.
Where the two universes are different, though, is in the way humanity reacts to their constructs. The humanity in Blade Runner sees their creations (dubbed ‘replicants’) as a threat to society following a public incident that resulted in deaths. An entire division of law enforcement was created for the sole purpose of hunting them down. This drove some replicants violent.
However, judging by the synopsis above, we can gleam that the humanity of The Last Night chooses to embrace and encourage the evolution of their version of the replicants, not fear it. Thus, the machines continue to grow and evolve in order to serve us more efficiently, up until the point where they even outclass us in creativity and intellect. In this regard, The Last Night is unique.
Blade Runner chooses to make the machines the focus of the film, whereas it looks like humanity itself will be center stage in The Last Night.
And that is what I want to focus on in this article.
The Loss of Our Most Defining Attribute
To me, a significant part of what makes us human is our capacity to overcome and innovate. What takes other creatures hundreds or even thousands of years to accomplish through the slow process of evolution, humanity achieves in mere years or even months as we adapt to the world around us.
But it doesn’t stop there. It’s not just about creation for survival needs. We take it even further by creating things out of pure passion alone.
These creations we make are what define our cultures. From architecture to foodstuffs to music to painting, humans find a purpose in life from expressing themselves via their abilities to show the world what they’re capable of. It’s not an easy process, but it’s a rewarding one. By inputting effort and work, an improvement to quality of life for all follows as a result.
What The Last Night has done, though, is portray a society in which humanity has taken the easy way out, so to speak. Presented with the choice of either living a life of ease and effortlessness or one of hardships and challenge, we ultimately chose to abandon what made us unique in the first place. We sacrifice our creativity for assurances of a care-free existence.
What is scary about this idea is that I can see it really happening. If someone told the average Joe that he could spend the rest of his life relaxing instead of ever having to put in work, I have a feeling that he, as well as countless others, would accept the offer.
What those people (and the people of The Last Night) fail to realize, though, is that with nothing to set our minds to, our lives are ultimately pointless. What’s the point of existing if our passions and what comes from them are worthless to society? Do the fruits of labor still taste sweet if we didn’t have to labor for them to begin with?
This, I think, is ultimately what the game will be asking us as we play through it. I’m hoping that the narrative plays Devil’s Advocate as well, similar to how Blade Runner blurred the lines of whether or not Deckard was right or wrong. I’d really like for my views on this “leisure culture” to be challenged in some way, for the game’s universe to try and convince me that it’s a step forward in progress, and not a step back in regression.
Of course, I could speculate all day long in this post about what I think the game’s narrative as a whole will entail, but I would rather let The Last Night tell me itself when it launches next year. I simply wanted to address what the synopsis confirms, and why I think it’s an incredibly interesting and unique idea to explore in a video game. Ironically, this game and its theme wouldn’t have been possible without creativity.
While we haven’t seen anything more of The Last Night other than a brief explanation of the setting and a few wide shots of its visually appealing aesthetic, I think what we do know is enough to accurately predict the theme of the title.
So far, everything that we’ve heard or seen about this game gives off a heavy noir–type vibe that stands out to me when compared to the rest of the industry. I suspect that this game will, like the film that so clearly inspired it, ask us to critically examine what really makes us human.
I think Odd Tales is doing a wonderful thing here. It feels like a love letter to Blade Runner, paying homage to it by addressing the same issue the film did from a completely new and unique perspective.
I could also be wrong, of course. This game could end up being incredibly shallow in its writing, or I could be looking way too deeply into the setting. I genuinely hope that I’m not, though. I think this idea has massive potential to succeed, and if Odd Tales can pull it off, than The Last Night may just be one of 2018’s biggest indie hits. Either way, I will undoubtedly be talking about it in the future.
Thanks for reading, everybody! What do you think of what I said here today? Feel free to let me know what you think of what we know of The Last Night so far either here or on my Twitter.
With Blade Runner 2049 being such a hot topic among the populace, you can expect me to talk about it soon. In fact, I’ve decided to plunge straight into some controversial waters. Here’s what I mean by that…
And with that, I’m outta here for now. Thanks again for reading! And remember…
If robots start taking over the world, don’t let them take the navy.
If you get what I’m referencing, brownie points to you!