Arts ellie’s gaming corner

The Last Worker: An absurdist anti-capitalist narrative that takes itself a tad too seriously

Welcome to the Jüngle

★★★★✩ (7.5/10)
The Last Worker
Wired Productions
Mar 30, 2023

The Last Worker is a narrative-based adventure game centered around the reign of a corporate giant in a grim dystopian world. The narrative follows blue-collar worker Kurt (and definitely not Bill from The Last of Us) as he is thrust in the middle of the years-long battle between the world’s largest retailer Jüngle and activist organization S.P.E.A.R. Kurt is a warehouse courier in one of Jüngle's "fulfillment centers," and works as the company's only remaining human employee — as the company's activities have since become automated and its former employees "terminated" — under the watchful eye of secretive Mr. Jüngle (who bears a marked but totally coincidental resemblance to a certain real-life businessman). In his journey, Kurt befriends the sarcastic robot drone Skew with a pottymouth Liverpudlian accent (which I originally naively tagged as Scottish, until one of the game’s devs I was corresponding with kindly corrected me) and the S.P.E.A.R. drone HoverBird.

The story is played out in the first-person and involves moments of actual play, making it much less like a Telltale journey and more like The Stanley Parable. It features a well-designed mix of stealth exploration and riveting courier work to tell its story, as Kurt slowly uncovers the deepest and darkest secrets of his employer of 25 years. Simple puzzles are integrated into the various interspersed stealth missions which, while increasingly difficult through the course of the game, are relatively simple.

Despite its well-executed story, actual gameplay can sometimes feel like a chore as the stealth portions are frustratingly obtuse and the work simulation sections are painfully boring and long-winded (though I suppose that is the intention). Both halves of The Last Worker are completed by the game’s primary mechanic: the trademarked Jüngle gun. The gun is issued to all courier employees and is intended for transferring and dispatching boxed products and tagging damaged or incorrectly-labelled parcels, though the player earns some non-standard S.P.E.A.R. upgrades to the Jüngle gun throughout the game.

The bulk of The Last Worker is confined to the Jüngle shipping center Kurt works at, with well-designed levels that — while fitting the progression of the game’s tale rather than reliably mimicking actual facility layouts — have a sort of eerie and fatigued The Stanley Parable-esque beauty to them. With its cel-shaded comic book-style aesthetic, the game is able to really hammer home its intended nihilistic tone. Complementing its themes is its haunting string ensemble soundtrack, delightfully spooky in just the right moments.

The game’s voiced dialogue is actually enjoyable (a feat that many narrative adventures can easily fail to accomplish). The voice acting is almost impeccable, a mark of a proper cinematic experience. I love the strained chemistry between Kurt and Skew as they form an unlikely friendship, and the constant bickering between Skew and the HoverBird provide some welcome and much-needed comic relief throughout the game’s undoubtedly stress-inducing plot. Another humorous element involves the parcels that Kurt dispatches and recycles as part of his daily tasks at Jüngle. As Kurt delivers each parcel, the player is shown the comical products inside: a coronavirus desk lamp, octopus head massager, selfie hairbrush, and branded knock-offs like a “Fartnite” pro gamer chair and “Zodick the Hellhog” plushie. (There are 110 unique product designs in the game to find.)

These enjoyable elements are somewhat dampened, though, by The Last Worker’s subtle but ever-present technical snags. There are too many load screens which, while short, are a startling jump out of the game’s immersiveness; it’s painfully easy to softlock the game when messing up a task; phasing out of the map when interacting with the game’s various moving objects is almost a guarantee during a stealth mission; and scene restarts are unbearingly buggy. While the game is supported in both traditional PC widescreen and VR modes, the sluggish MKB controls — though passable enough to be playable — let slip its obvious preference for the VR experience.

Despite its absurdist premise — Kurt works in a rundown shipping facility the size of Manhattan and the height of the Empire State Building, is accompanied by a robot drone with a Scottish accent, and dispatches the most whimsical products imaginable — The Last Worker takes itself as seriously as much as any story can. Fun at stages though drawn-out enough to feel dull by the end, the game’s redeeming qualities lie in its exemplary voiced dialogue and humorous retail products more so than the chilling narrative it tries to tell.


The Last Worker is available on PC (playable in VR) for $19.99. This review was written using a PC game code provided to The Tech by the game’s publisher.