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Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier Hands-On Preview – Hail Caesar

Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to attend my very first Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California and was instantly disappointed in myself for not attending this fantastic show sooner. I saw a wide array of video games ranging from fun independent titles like Let Them Come to blockbuster mainstream hits like Injustice 2. Despite all these incredible games, there was one title in particular that caught my attention and stayed on my mind right up until I finally had hands-on time with it at PAX West 2017.

That title is Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier, a standalone cinematic adventure game and the first official release by Imaginati Studio under the creative direction of Andy Serkis. Here’s more in-depth information on this upcoming title and why it is without a doubt the definitive Planet of the Apes interactive experience.

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier takes place roughly a year after Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and leads into this past summer’s box office blockbuster War for the Planet of the Apes. The story revolves around a breakaway faction of apes who hide in the Rocky Mountains as the war between humans and apes intensifies. Once food and additional resources begin to run low, the apes are forced to explore a nearby valley owned by humans. This is the point where the narrative shift towards questions of morality as players are tested based on how they respond to various situations.

The ape faction consists of several key characters including a strong tribe leader in Khan and his sons Bryn, Tola, and Juno. The human characters are farmers who look towards the deceased town mayor’s wife Jess for leadership. The cast in total will include 14 playable characters split between apes and humans. It wasn’t made clear to me if we will ever see other characters from any of the films but it is most likely that some of the same story elements will make their way into this game. The campaign last roughly 2-3 hours and has multiple endings based on which characters live or die from your actions.

The Last Frontier pits humans against apes based on the important decisions that both sides will make.

My gameplay demonstration consisted of me playing through two different scenarios from both the human and ape perspectives. The first one dealt with Khan and his tribe debating whether or not to quietly steal cattle from a nearby farm or kill the human cattle owners first to avoid interference. The other was centered on some ruthless humans who beat and captured an ape while Jess ponders on how to address the problem.

Last Frontier’s core gameplay aesthetics are based entirely on making decisions through conversations. Similar to Telltale titles, these choice-based decisions are a lot more frequent in nature and happen every 20-30 seconds. I noticed that several of the choices I made prior to pursuing the cattle gave me more time to work with but got drastically quicker once the acts were being committed. This dynamic leads to more quick reactions and interesting outcomes to any and every given situation.

Decision making is at the forefront of the overall experience.

On the PlayStation 4, Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier has PlayLink support and allows a group of friends or family members to play locally together by using mobile smartphones, tablets, and a PS4 controller. Choices can be voted on and overruled depending on how many people are playing at any given time. I had the opportunity to play alongside Imaginati Studio CEO Martin Alltimes and the decisions we made led to interesting conversations about life, death, and morals. This is one aspect of the game that I think truly sets it apart from the competition and is one of many reasons why more conversations will be sparked long after the story has been completed.

Graphically, the latest build of Last Frontier looks spectacular. Andy Serkis wanted to match the look and feel of the movies and has achieved that with the use of Unreal Engine. This really lends perfectly to the overall cinematic feel and makes the player feel like they are playing through an actual movie.

The Last Frontier will invoke a lot of thought-provoking conversations long after you’ve finished it.

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is shaping up to be a very intriguing game that fans of the franchise absolutely should keep on their radar. In a year filled with so many major releases, there are bound to be more than a few that may fall under the radar. I’m confident in saying that Last Frontier won’t be one of them as it will make you think cautiously about your choice and differentiate right from wrong unlike ever better.

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier launches worldwide this Fall for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Are any of you planning on trying out this game? Please feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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