While I could reference games like Risk of Rain, Titan Souls, or Shadow of the Colossus as the ones that came to mind while playing The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human, none of them come as close as Metroid. And even then, it is not an apt comparison. The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human by YCJY is something all its own. It combines fantastic gameplay through exploration and boss battles with teaching a subtle lesson about preservation and sustainability of the resources we have left on Earth.
The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human begins with a spaceship that looks like a submarine that leaves Earth in search for a new home, but is unable to find one. In this super-future where you return, Earth has become a wasteland. The waters have risen, and humans attempted to live out life underwater, but as the holotapes you collect tell, it was anything but the way life should be. You are the sole survivor of humanity.
As you explore, you see peaceful creatures living about their lives with no interference from humans any longer. You can go anywhere and do anything in The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human, provided you have the tools to do so. You’ll notice that many areas may have to be revisited once you have the means to gain access to them. If you’ve played games like this before, you know where it is going in terms of gameplay and flow.
You might think this is a game devoid of combat, but not long after crashing into the ocean you’ll happen upon your first weapon. The game is careful in deliberately directing you towards this moment. It is here you learn that being in the water isn’t completely safe. There’s ten vicious monsters that wish you nothing but harm. These monsters are challenging bosses, with behavior that is predictable to overcome, yet are a joy to experience.
That first weapon is a harpoon. While it is very useful, it is only attached to the belly of your ship, giving only 180 degrees of moment, making for the first few battles an exercise in dexterity and agility to maintain optimal firing distance and angle away, as to not be hit or killed while orienting yourself correctly. Other abilities come in the form of upgrades to enhance the durability of your hull, or speed up its repairing abilities. There’s specific pacing to certain things you find, making it so you’re never overpowered for any one fight.
One of the advents that The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human brings to the genre and itself, is the use of save stations that will checkpoint progress, as well as provide a fast travel destination between locations. While there is a checkpoint system in general, activating a station saves time in traversing well-worn locations just to pad the time you play and length of the game. While you could go back and forth manually, not having to do so is a big plus.
The soundtrack by Karl Flodin adds to much to The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human. His pieces are often tranquil, and provide thoughtful introspection as you play. It’s almost otherworldly at how good this is.
There’s no doubt a statement to be made about the current state in which we are destroying our environment through the decisions that we as a collective people make in The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human. It’s one that certainly got me thinking, and one that thankfully didn’t overplay the tone. The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human is a fantastic game that will remind you of other games, but will proudly show you why it is something special.
A pre-release Steam key was provided by the developer for review purposes.