Forest Hills: The Last Year

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Forest Hills: The Last Year


[PAX EAST] A refreshing take on a revived cult classic...

The game formally known as Last Year: The Nightmare has had something of an uphill battle, following an initial announcement and release back in 2018, initially releasing exclusively on Discord, during that brief, indecisive phase when Discord tried to pass itself off as a digital games market. It was later released on Steam in 2019, and the game's original development team, Elastic Games, declared bankruptcy in 2021. The game's servers were then taken offline, and without pomp or ceremony, this appeared to be the final nail in the coffin for this cult classic game.

With developmental responsibilities since having been handed over to Undaunted Games, updates on this forthcoming relaunch of Last Year have been relatively few and far between. However, Undaunted Games just this weekend has given players a taste of what they can soon expect from Forest Hills: The Last Year when it launches later this year. PAX East attendees were given the opportunity to get hands-on and play a full match, working together to overcome the developer-controlled monster.

A rough start

Having a full day at PAX East on Thursday, it wasn't until Friday evening that I finally had some spare time to go hands-on with Forest Hills, but it became clear almost immediately that this was one booth well worth the wait. The developers and other managing staff members from Undaunted Games did an excellent job of keeping the modest-length line moving, while still giving each participating group decent value for their time.

There's no mistaking it. Forest Hills: The Last Year is absolutely a game still very much under active development, and bugs and optimization issues were in notable abundance. At one point in the middle of our match, we suddenly ran into a match-wide fatal crash. However, the developers quickly apologized for the inconvenience and allowed us all to start over fresh in a new match. Everything from that point on ran smoothly.

A balance of power

Unlike other asymmetrical multiplayer horror titles, where the monster is an indestructible force to be reckoned with, here you can not only fight back, but are in fact encouraged to do so. If you're an isolated survivor, you stand no chance against an entity that can rip you to shreds within seconds of sustained effort. However if you have a teammate or two with you, the brawl that ensues becomes increasingly a lot more even-handed. If the entire team is united as one, the monster will need to keep its distance and await a better opportunity to strike.

Even if the players manage to succeed in killing the player-controlled monster mid-match, their victory is only a fleeting one, as the monster will soon respawn elsewhere in the map. While combat is a factor, the ultimate goal of the survivors is not specifically to always kill the monster, but rather, divert it long enough for the survivors to escape.

There was one terrifying moment when, after facing off against the monster one final time in an enclosed arena, and after a lot of effort, (and seemingly a bit of lag on the monster's end,) driving it off, the final set of gates opened and we sprinted to the exit. Just then, the monster reappeared to chase us. The path to the final exit stretched out ahead of us in a straight line.

Two or three players ahead of me got through. The monster was right on my heels and that of the player behind me. I dove through the exit and survived. The player behind me was just a few feet away, practically sliding right through the exit, but then was grabbed at the very last second by the monster, picked up, spun around, and flung a dozen or so meters away straight into a floor trap placed previously by the monster.

It was singlehandedly one of the most hilariously unfortunate things I'd ever seen in any multiplayer horror game. I felt so bad for the other player even as I was outwardly insensitively howling with laughter at their agonizing demise.

New maps, New opportunities

At PAX East, players got to test out the game on the new in-development graveyard map. A modest-sized cemetery on the surface level, it secretly contains a labyrinth of underground tunnels in which an unwary and inattentive player can easily find themselves lost in, assuming they don't spot the obvious contextual clues.

The layout is well-designed, with the surface level having a fair mix of wide lanes and smaller passages between the rows of tombs, offering just enough line-of-sight blockers to force the monster to stay on his toes. For survivors that prefer to stay out of sight entirely, there is the underground maze of twisting passages. However, you often won't know until the last minute when the monster may be around the next corner. It's all very much a continuous trade of give-and-take.

One of the only notable disappointments I felt while playing was how washed-out the lighting and environments were. Granted, cemeteries have never been known for their diverse colour palettes, but coming off what I remembered from having played the original Last Year: The Nightmare when it first debuted on Discord, this new iteration doesn't visually pop with life nearly as strongly by comparison. The gameplay feels just as good, if not better, but the visuals conversely do not.


Forest Hills: The Last Year is admittedly rough, unfinished, and in some need of minor gameplay tweaks as well as a lot of visual improvements, but nevertheless at its core, it remains a fun, easily replayable experience that will almost certainly continue to grow and improve over time. It's difficult to unabashedly recommend a game purely from just having played one single map of this new iteration, but this is definitely a game to keep an eye on as we approach its eventual release later this year.

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