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One Last Breath Review

One Last Breath Review

Crikey, looks a lot like INSIDE, this, doesn’t it? I mean, a lot. So much so that it’s actually a bit difficult to talk about One Last Breath without first addressing the monumental, copied-and-pasted elephant in the room. Still, for roughly the first half-hour of the game, I wasn’t planning to penalise it for being so blatantly derivative. It makes a good first impression, and there’s something endearing about the atmosphere, all majestic nature and heart-warming symphonic swells, even as the world is revealed to be nearing its final hour.

But then it started to annoy me, and I decided to dock half a point. Think of it as my grand protest against copycats everywhere. I always knew I was going to make a difference in the world. Anyway, you might not care the least bit about a spot of harmless plagiarism, in which case, by all means, stick a .5 back onto the review score for a verdict more accurate to your tastes. Free country, and all that. 

One Last breath Limbo

So, let’s talk about those first 30 minutes that made me feel nice inside because it’s where One Last Breath gets closest to reaching its potential. You take on the role of Gaia, a sort of tree-looking woman created by Mother Nature as a last attempt at survival. We’ll have to take the Steam page’s word for that, mind, as there’s no explanation given in the game. You’ll jump, roll, and crawl your way through a bunch of 2.5D environments, starting with some scenic vistas before quickly descending into the main feature: ominous woods and post-apocalyptic industrial zones. 

The game conjures a fairly commanding and captivating tone during the opening stanza. Gaia’s synergy with nature is made tangible through her interactions with the wildlife around her: foxes continue their playtime unperturbed as she walks by, and deer sometimes follow behind as she makes her way through the terrain. It’s a welcome bit of added motivation to save the planet and a powerful contrast to the unnatural hostility of the screeching, scratching nasties that wander the lands.

One Last Breath Deer

These horrible pink bastards — presumably the result of some kind of failed human experimentation — are the main threat that will keep you on your toes throughout your journey. If one of them spots you, they’ll unleash a gurgly scream, Gaia will start to hyperventilate, and the chase is on. These moments can occasionally get pretty tense, especially near the beginning, before you’re desensitised to them. Avoiding those ugly wrinkle bags usually involves crouching behind cover or solving a puzzle before they reach you. 

As enjoyable as these initial moments are, though, you’ll notice some problems, and as those problems get ever more problematic, the narrative, puzzle design, and scene development all grind to a halt and all tension disappears. Environmental storytelling is kind of a big deal in the puzzly platformer genre, but after setting up the post-apocalyptic, corrupt-corporate dominoes, One Last Breath does tragically little to expand on the idea, let alone knock the pieces down.

One Last Breath Medical

You’ll come across puzzles frequently, but they never become challenging, nor do they innovate beyond pushing crates around or finding a flower shield to protect you from poison gas. Often, you’ll walk into an area and instantly recognise the solution. Yep, switch over there, push box to reach ladder, feel smug for solving quickly. But Gaia’s sluggish movement just makes it a mundane formality to go through those motions, and your self-congratulatory grin will look more like Hide-the-Pain Harold long before you reach the exit. If there were hints of lore dotted around to keep you occupied, it could pass as a deliberate style choice, but alas, there’s very nearly none to be found. 

The controls are a bit on the sketchy side, too. It’s all fine and smooth when you’re just holding the stick to the right (which you’ll be doing a whole lot), but Gaia can feel a bit wooden when movement demands more precision. Then again, she is pretty much a human tree, so I guess they’ve got me there. But it can be frustrating when she gets snagged on a minuscule piece of rock or refuses to grab a boarded-up window after four presses of the Interact button. Yeah, no rush, Gaia; it’s not like nature itself is on the brink of extinction or anything.

One Last Breath Aqua

Ultimately, the experience becomes more and more underwhelming as it progresses through its two-hour run time. The soundtrack sure is lovely, but there’s only so much heavy lifting a poignant string crescendo can do. There’s just too little substance here for the music to disguise as depth. If you’re really craving something that superficially resembles an Inside-alike, One Last Breath is easy on the eyeballs and mostly inoffensive enough outside of its lack of originality, so it might just scratch the itch, but it’s hard to wholeheartedly recommend even then.

5.50/10 5½

One Last Breath (Reviewed on Windows)

The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.

One Last Breath is pretty, occasionally tense, but always slow, and fails to develop its puzzles or narrative in any meaningful way beyond the introductory sequence.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Adam Grindley

Adam Grindley

Staff Writer

Adam's favourite game is Mount Your Friends. That probably tells you everything you need to know about him.

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