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The Last Worker's all-star cast brings a shine to its anti-capitalist satire but the gameplay is a chore

Welcome to the Jüngle.

Before I start talking about my time with The Last Worker, I feel I should preface this week's episode of Ian's VR Corner with a couple of points.

Firstly, the game's publisher Wired Productions should be absolutely praised for not only making The Last Worker available to play in both flat-screen and VR modes, but also its upcoming Lemmings-like puzzler Tin Hearts too. If this trend were to be continued by the majority of publishers and developers, the world of VR gaming would be a much busier and better place and the sooner other studios and software houses follow the example set by Wired the better.

Secondly, my impressions below, and in this week's VR Corner above, are only based on approx 2 hours of gameplay and I was feeling rather ill with what could possibly be Covid (although I'm still testing negative) at the time of recording. Perhaps that's why I didn't seem to enjoy The Last Worker as much as other reviewers did, I don't know, but it's certainly possible that the gameplay could markedly improve after this point.

Hollywood actor Jason Isaacs plays Skew, a foul-mouthed malfunctioning robot, while Icelandic actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson voices the player character, Kurt.

Events in The Last Worker are steeped in mystery and a short intro video illustrates player character Kurt's induction into the Amazon-like shipping company Jüngle. Once upon a time the Jüngle factory seems to have been a bustling workplace full of humans, but now only Kurt is left as the titular last worker and this begs the question why he didn't leave his job to follow his pregnant lover who quits Jüngle in the intro.

I assume this is answered later in the game, but I struggle to see what Kurt's motivations are for staying in this dead-end, lonely job as the last human being there. Especially as he's told later on that the outside world isn't looking to great. To that statement he just murmers something about wanting to go to sleep, and honestly, it confused me. Why should I care about this man who obviously doesn't even care about himself?

He even treats his only friend, a fouth-mouthed AI named Skew with contempt. It's like he hates being there but can't be arsed to leave? People who work in Amazon warehouses, the place The Last Worker is so blatantly satirising, do so because they have to. They need to pay medical bills, or feed their family. Kurt doesn't seem to have these issues so why the blind loyalty to a job that provides him with only manual labour in return. He even sleeps on a pile of rubbish! Sure the world outside may be bad, but is it really worse than this? Again this all may be answered down the line, but can I really be bothered to push through the laborious gameplay to find out? The answer currently is no.

Because that's what the gameplay is, at least in the first couple of hours anyway. It's a repetitive cycle of box fetching (in the game it's called 'delivering dreams'), bookended with clunky stealth sections and narrative beats that hint at a bigger mystery to be discovered.

But then that narrative often seems muddled too. One early portion sees Kurt being put through a tutorial section, one that he says he's been through many times before thanks to Skew's shoddy mental state. During section this he's forced to chase after a package, which he seems to get really surprised and angry about, like it's a new thing to him. But then almost straight after having what almost borders on a panic attack, Kurt tells Skew that he found the tutorial 'relaxing'. Was his panic an act? Or is he just very forgetful? Maybe there's something else wrong with him that we'll find out about later down the line - he does have a rather persitent cough throughout the early hours, I suppose.

Head deeper into Jüngle and some of the things you'll see hint at a much darker company than the 'Dream Delivery Service' it sells itself as.

Sorry, I'm rambling on here. Covid brain perhaps. Let's touch on the VR aspect a bit, seeing as that's why we're here. The world of Jüngle certainly looks nice through the PSVR2's headset. The cell-shaded artsyle is bold and crisp and it suits the setting well.

Motion-wise there's a tonne of comfort options to play with which is nice but the game is designed to be played seated so it shouldn't be too extreme for most players. And it's all seated because that's how Kurt spends his entire existent. Sat down in a little 'God Pod' racing around Jüngle collecting and dropping off parcels.

The movement of that pod is achieved by using the thumbsticks and face buttons on the Sense controllers although, confusingly, the narration from Skew tells you that you need to push and pull at levers on your God Pod in order to move it. In reality these levers do absolutely zilch and are only there for decoration, so I found this a weird design choice overall - perhaps what Skew says here are just leftover voicelines from the flat version that weren't changed or removed for VR.

I think the main selling point for The Last Worker is definitely the cast, Jason Isaacs' is very funny as the heavily accented swear-bot, and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson shines as Kurt, and their bickering helps bring a lot of personality to the anti-captialist satire that runs rampant through the script.

If, like me, you're the sort of person who prefers your VR adventures to be freer, with lots of interactivity then you probably won't get much from The Last Worker. If however, you enjoy a good mystery (and hopefully one with a satisfactory ending) with relatively slow-paced gameplay then you might want to consider placing an order. Although careful buying it digitally on the PSN because, unlike Jüngle, PlayStation doesn't allow returns.