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One hour into The Last Federation

I’ve been telling my friends that The Last Federation is a strategic turn based twin-stick shooter/political simulator. Not only is that an absolute mouthful to say, but it also sounds like a complete mess of a game. The truth, however, is that The Last Federation is an absolute joy to play, even if I still don’t really know what I’m doing or aiming towards.

From my hour or so of playtime, here’s what I’ve been able to deduce: I need to unite my slice of galaxy into a Federation by any means necessary. There are hints that I can just use warfare to my advantage, but being a complete noob to the game, that doesn’t really seem like a good idea. Plus I don’t want to be that guy. Instead, I’ve focused on making my galactic neighbors happy. This is essentially accomplished by completing doing favors/completing quests. It’s important to recognize, though, that by helping out some factions, you’ll anger others. Paving the way for peace isn’t as easy as completing tasks; you’ll have to balance out your relationships with every faction before deciding the most effective method of moving forward.

This is where the political simulator comes into play, but what about that turn based strategic twin-stick shooter part? That’s the game’s combat. Most of those missions/quests/favors I mentioned earlier involve doing battle in space. Visually, the mayhem that unfolds will remind gamers of Resogun and Geometry Wars. In practice, though, it plays absolutely nothing like any of those games. Combat plays out in a turn based manner; you’ll instruct your shop to move in a particular direction while selecting a particular weapon to fire at selected enemy targets. As you’d expect from a strategy game, certain weapons are most effective against certain enemies.

There’s a lot of information you’ll digest, but The Last Federation takes its time in giving you the keys to the ship. The amount of control you’re given comes in moderation. Combat starts with the most basic of abilities before you’re able to divert power between weapons, engines, and shields. From there, special abilities are granted. Before long, you’re given more options than a Swiss Army Knife. Since you were gradually thrown into the fire, though, there’s never a sense of information overload.

Most importantly, the combination of the twin-stick shooter style of combat with the turn-based pacing doesn’t feel out of place. If anything, it makes moments even more intense. Instead of moving at lightning speeds, the fact that everything stops every so often means that you’ll be continually analyzing your next attacks. Sure, that enemy is ripe for the taking, but what’s the cost? You’ll often overthink your movements, something you don’t really have time for in a traditional twin-stick game. It results in an incredibly pleasant surprise.

To say that The Last Federation left an incredibly favorable first impression is an understatement. The hectic combat is complete eye-candy and the action is highly enjoyable. That being said, I still feel completely lost when it comes to forging alliances, which could explain why I talked more about the combat than the political aspect of the game. Hopefully when I dive deeper into The Last Federation, the political angling can win me over as much as the combat did.

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Jake Valentine
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