Last Year: The Nightmare is a brilliant 5v1 PvP survival game by Elastic Games in which five surviving teens must team up and work together to escape a high school where they are being stalked by Killers. They will need to complete certain tasks in order to open up the exit and finally escape in one piece.
The main goal of survivors is to complete a set of objectives and escape the high school while the main goal of Killers is the eliminate all survivors without letting any of them escape the high school. It sounds very traditional but the game executes the whole formula very well and it is a very polished game which is currently only set back by not having enough players.
What really sets this game apart from its competitors is that the player controlling the Killer has three unique killers at his disposal and not just one. Each killer comes with their own unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Player can switch between them to easily cater to any situation in the game.
The three killers are Slasher, Strangler and Giant. The Slasher comes with an axe, the strangler is very agile and can grab enemies using his chain and drag them into vents while the Giant is a tank and is very hard to kill. However, this brute strength comes with a slow speed and laggy attacks which some quick survivors will be able to escape easily.
During our gameplay, we played with all three killers and they indeed felt like unique characters and not just the same killer with a different skin. The Strangler is very agile and will allow you to move around quietly even without the stealth mode activated. With him, you have access to vents which can be used to ambush enemies and drag them in them to instantly get a kill.
The Slasher has a big axe with him and is the most typical killer in the game. He also comes with the ability to jump from skylights and get an instant headshot kill. He is also very tough to fight if he jumps you from behind but he is not fast enough so you will need to use shortcuts and lay down traps to slow down the survivors.
The last killer is The Giant and he is an absolute tank. He is our absolute favorite as he can bash throw walls like they were made of paper and pick up survivors and beat then to a pulp. Giant’s best aspect is that he can crash through walls to surprise the players and it really gets the survivors running around without a clue of what has happened around them.
Killers also have the ability to lay down different types of traps in the level. By simply pressing the ‘F’ key, you turn invisible and can move around the level much quickly. During this phase, you are not able to attack the survivors but you can certainly lay down some traps to ambush the survivors.
You can lay down traps on the ground and even sabotage different loot places such as lockers and boxes so that when someone opens them, they are greeted with a blast of poison gas. The poison gas does not kill you but it inverses the controls and also makes the vision go haywire which is enough for the Killer to make his move.
As for the survivors, the game features four unique classes for the survivors. They are Assault, Scout, Technical and Medic. Each of these classes have unique roles and their gear is suited accordingly. Players can pick their favorite class before starting a match and before respawning. There are five different character models to choose from but there are only four classes.
If a survivor is taken down by a Killer, they will respawn in a random locked room around the map. Remaining survivors will need to go and open the door to rescue them. This ensures that even if one survivor is remaining; he can still bring back the whole team in the game by rescuing them and keeping the team of survivors full.
Apart from the initial starting gear, players can find scraps around the map and collect it to craft better gear and weapons. They can be found in random boxes, lockboxes or random locations around the map. It is vital to craft better equipment otherwise the Killers will be too much overpowered. Players can craft items such as turrets and shotguns to give themselves as edge over the killers.
Each class starts with own unique gear such as the Scout has a flash to blind the killers with it, Technical starts with a tool box and the Medic starts with a medical bag using which he can heal the injured survivors. Survivors who get stuck in traps can be rescued by fellow survivors however they will need to watch their backs.
If you are not happy with your current class, you can always choose a different class while respawning in the same match if you die so you can basically have a run with each class in the same match allowing you to change roles on the go. This also allows you to test out different classes in certain scenarios so that if someone leaves the session in the middle of the game, players can adopt to situations and change class.
After the survivors have completed all tasks to open the escape gate, they will have exactly one minute to escape after which the escape hatch with close and they will be trapped behind with the killers. Each map offers unique ways to hide and take down killers while completing the objectives. Both sides can use these spaces for their own benefits.
Coming to visuals, Last Year – The Nightmare does not disappoint. The levels are highly detailed and lightning effects look amazing. The special effects are also very unique and when the Killers are in action, the game does not hold back. The executions are brutal and players really get to see what the Killers are actually capable of. The environment design is really good and it really gives out spooky high school vibes.
Each killer has their own unique execution styles. Most of the time we were simply killed because we were watching our fellow survivors getting pounded and then we were unable to escape after their execution animation ended. The game is certainly not lagging when it comes to brutal executions and gore.
We tested the game on desktop as well as on laptop and we even tried it on a system that was nearly 8 years old but the game’s engine held up well and we were able to run it pretty fairly on the older PC. On the newer systems, we were getting crisp visuals and very smooth frames even on graphic intense sequences.
The gameplay feels solid and is not choppy at all. Although we would have loved a training mode where players could simply test out the different mechanics of the game as players have no idea what to do if they are jumping fresh in the game. Adding a tutorial to this game will make it very easier for fresh players to get a hold of game mechanics quickly.
During our different sessions, we also noticed that killers are slightly more overpowered than survivors. Even if the killers do not resort to traps and other shenanigans, the survivors can be taken out pretty easily. Most of the time because the survivors are still playing around with their equipment trying to figure out what to do with it.
I would prefer if the developers balance out both the survivors and the killers so that new players eventually get a chance. I won less games while I was playing as a survivor but while playing as the killer, I was the king of the level picking off survivors who had no clue what to do with their gear and equipment. This certainly shows that killers might be more powerful at this stage.
The game has three maps to choose from. They are Gym, The Bell Tower and The Library. Hopefully more maps will be added to the game later however for the time being, these three would be sufficient to experience the game. During each match, you can also complete certain challenges such as killing a certain number of survivors and more.
The game offers a simple menu and offers three modes to choose from. Players can host their own public or private servers, join an already made server quickly or choose from a list of servers. We did have a few connectivity issues while joining the game but eventually we joined the game and after that there were no errors or slowdowns.
Coming to player base availability, the game is currently only available on Discord Store which means that anyone who wants to play it, will need Discord. It is a free client but it is a different client to download. Perhaps this is the reason why we always had around 4 or 5 servers to choose from even when we selected worldwide but there is always some action going on.
At this point, Last Year – The Nightmare is exclusively available on the Discord Store with ‘Discord First’ program so you will need to download the Discord game client to play this game. The client is pretty fast and downloads are fast as well so it should be not too much of a hassle. If you are specifically downloading the client to play this game, it would not be a waste as it offers hours of online fun.
If you are a fan of Friday the 13th and Dead by Daylight, this title is for you and it is a fresh entry in the genre which can be the best game in the genre if the developers follow up with long term support and keep the title fresh with new content. As of now, it is a breath of fresh air in the genre where few developers are venturing.
For $30, Last Year – The Nightmare is a solid PvP experience that can offer a lot in the long run. For fans of such survival titles, this is a great title that not only looks good but also plays good. The Killers and the Survivors both offer enough unique mechanics and this variety ensures that your every death will not be the same as the previous one. We really liked the game and if you have some friends to play with, this game is a must have for you.
Final Score: 8.5/10