I just got annihilated by a boss monster in a time somewhere between "the blink of an eye" and "the memory span of a newborn goldfish". I should be fuming. Instead, I'm grinning like an idiot. The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human is a new Steam undersea action-adventure game in which you, the last human, return to an Earth consumed by a strange, almost alien sea. Your character decides to explore it. That... might not be the best idea.
The Earth's watery grave is not wholly hostile. In places, it can be stunningly peaceful -- almost inviting -- with its pastel undersea pasture of warmly coloured plants and submarine-sized fish. Observe:
However, it should be noted that the submarine-sized fish are the small ones. They won't usually try to kill you. They will leave that to the big ones. This is a game that wants you to feel helplessly small.
The contrast between almost comatose silence and violent unrest -- chill and kill, as it were -- is what defines The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human: The Best Game Of 2016 That Desperately Needs A Shorter Name. Things are really relaxing until they really, really aren't. I learned that the hard way against the game's first boss.
I was just floating along, minding my own business, and marvelling at how incredibly small the game managed to make me feel. Only a few minutes in, and I could already feel myself being drawn in deep. I wanted to know what happened to Earth, what sorts of creatures took humanity's place at the top of the food chain. Before long, I found my first weapon: a humble harpoon. It felt fitting, somehow, that my weapon against undersea terrors that outlived my species' history and legacy was... a pointy stick. We did it, humanity. We came full circle. Back to the basics. "OK," I thought to myself pridefully, "whatever's out there can bite me. I, the last human, will overcome the odds just like the first humans before me."
Then I got absolutely trucked by a giant worm.
Skip to the end of the video for the aforementioned trucking.
The fight -- it wasn't even a fight, as I mounted no noticeable offence -- was over in a seconds. "BULLSHIT," I wanted to yell. Instead, I couldn't help but notice that I'd unlocked an achievement, my first in the whole game. Curious, I decided to see what it was about.
Here is what it was about:
Oh. Well... that's humbling. Downright embarrassing, really, given all the high-minded garbage about humanity and overcoming the odds I was spouting before. It makes sense, though: The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human is a game that wants you to feel small. It's one thing to do that with physical size alone; it's another to take all my Typical Video Game Hero bravado and smash it right out of me in seconds -- to remind me not only that being the last doesn't make me the best, but that all humans are now dead because I got sloppy. That's what I call a welcome.