Planet of the Apes: The Last Frontier is a boring mess filled with graphical issues, unlikable characters, and an inconsistent storyline that gives players a frustratingly hollow illusion of choice.
Planet of the Apes: The Last Frontier
Developer: The Imaginati Studios
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
MonsterVine was provided with a PS4 code for review
I thoroughly enjoy TellTale’s games because, for the most part, they’re interactive adventures that let you choose your own path to a fairly predetermined ending. Planet of the Apes: The Last Frontier tries to ape this, but falls painfully short because of how incredibly rigid and buggy the game is.
Set around the time of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Last Frontier follows a group of human survivors and a group of apes who left the main collective to take residence in the mountains. You go back and forth between controlling the two group, which could have been an interesting idea if the story was executed better. If the story were more open to diverging from its strict and somewhat incohesive narrative, it would have been far more interesting to move both the humans and the apes towards your desired conclusion. Unfortunately the story allows for no such thing as you’re constantly shoved back into the streamlined narrative, regardless of player choices.
A TellTale game always has you arrive at the same destination, but it lets you take different routes to get there. The system isn’t perfect and would benefit from more options, but it’s a system that lets you experience the story in your own way, even if the ending is decided. The Last Frontier is the opposite of this in that all options are irrelevant to the larger narrative. It feels as though there are no separate paths to take in the story, as the game seems happy to disregard your choices in order to ensure you follow its stringent plot. There was one occasion where I said no to a character (who wished to bring their militia to a peace meeting with the apes) four times. The character decided to leave town, but when I arrived at the meeting, he was waiting for me with his militia. My character nonchalantly accepted his presence and went about her business. This isn’t an isolated occurrence either, so don’t get excited about branching narratives or even the most basic of choices having any form of payoff. There are different endings, but they’re largely the result of choosing not to kill the main character of one camp as the main character of the other, making those the few options that can have even the slightest impact.
Furthermore, almost every single character is an unlikable clod. Every single human makes terrible choices that seem entirely nonsensical, and turn on each other at every possibility. The apes don’t fare much better, with only Bryn, Oaka, and Clarence being tolerable. These three are the most competent characters in the game by a wide margin, as they aren’t as painfully cliché as the other apes. This isn’t their fault though, as it’s the plot that makes them this way. Ape is killed by human, human is killed by ape, all apes but one want to kill the humans, all humans but one want to kill the apes, the two pacifists meet and try to make peace, both sides betray the idea, battle occurs, uneasy peace is won. It’s a very unremarkable story that feels like it’s been done far too many times, even being done in the franchise the game was spawned from.
There are no puzzles in The Last Frontier, instead it relies entirely on choice-based conversations to carry the game. I don’t mind this per se, it’s just the execution of this style that bothers me, as a better story and meaningful character choices could have helped immensely. The game is around three hours long as well, so decide whether you want to make basic decisions for a few hours before picking The Last Frontier up.
The most novel thing about The Last Frontier is the ability for a group of people to play and vote on what decisions to make. The free Last Frontier app makes the game function as a multiplayer experience where your friend group can make decisions in a “majority rules” system, which could be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, since the story is essentially set, this feature is unlikely to ever see its full potential realized.
The Last Frontier is a visual bugfest. While models sometimes look quite realistic and impressive, these decent examples are few and far between. Textures pop in far too late, and sometimes they don’t even render. At one point in the game I could see the rig of an ape model, as there were no textures on him. There was even a moment where all the characters were T-posing as the cutscene was starting. The Last Frontier even crashed my console twice, which is never a good sign. These issues are inexcusable, and make the game look like a brutally amateur outing.
The Final Word
Planet of the Apes: The Last Frontier is a mess of a title that tries to ape TellTale’s style to unfavorable results. I was hoping for a tense and thrilling narrative experience, but the shoddy story, lack of player choice, unlikable characters, and plethora of glitches finally made a monkey out of me.
MonsterVine Rating: 2 out of 5 – Poor