The Last Gasp is a short action adventure game built in Unreal Engine 4, where you play as a spirit of a soldier , who in order to finally succumb to eternal rest, has to avenge his death. In order to do so you must go around, possessing other fallen soldiers to use their special abilities to aid you in your quest.
The game, along with all of its assets were initially created during the weeklong Epic Megajam 2020 jam. After the event had concluded we continued to work on the game on the side, to tweak various elements, fix bugs and to polish its rougher edges in order to give it a proper release.
The primary gameplay mechanic is the players ability to possess select dead bodies in order to use their abilities. In total theres three different classes for the player to control, all with different abilities and skillsets necessary to complete the game.
Archer – Medium speed along with low damage. Allows you to kill from range and to hit out of reach switches.
Rogue – High speed with low damage. Characters speciality is being able to quickly damage enemies while on the move. Able to jump over obstacles and to climb up platforms.
Heavy – Low speed with high damage. To make up for his slow movement speed, he is able to take on multiple enemies at once with his high health and damage output. Special ability is being able to move objects to help solve puzzles.
The melee combat is relatively basic, with players movesets being limited to simple attacks and an ability to lockon to the nearest target for better precision. Same applies to ranged combat, with there being few extra factors such as your movement affecting the accuracy of your shots.
In addition to combat, the game features light puzzle solving in order to help break up the pacing and to offer some extra variety. Because each character has its own special use, the player has the ability to strategically “unpossess” bodies at will. Doing so drains the players spirit power though, which can be recharged through collectibles scattered around the map.
When coming up with the overall level design, great care was put into ensuring that the player is gradually carefully eased into different gameplay mechanics and playable characters, before being thrust into action.
Thats why the game level is split into three different sections
Before encountering his first enemy, the player has to solve various environnment puzzles using the special abilities of all of the possible playable characters. That way the player has had enough time to get used to the controls of the game and how each character controls and feels. Afterwards the player is gradually given more and more demanding combat encounters in the city. With it all being combined in the end for the finale.
The primary lesson learned from the project, was the importance to keep your scope relatively small when your supposed to work on a tight schedule. With the very limited time we had, we were too focused on making a technically complex game just for the sake of impressing other people. By the time the deadline hit, we had a game that was impressive in its scope, but still required quite a bit of extra work. Because the game was made just for fun, its not that big of a deal, but its definitely not an approach that id like to take when working on an actual shippable product.
Nevertheless the project was a great learning experience, allowing me to both experiment with various systems within Unreal Engine 4 (Creating in-game cinematics through the use of level sequences, creating fully functional options menus, creating and implementing sounds in the game) and to improve my teamwork skills when working with strangers.
Thanks to working with such talented artists, the game received a lot of praise for its consistent art style and for how much we were able to create in such a short time. Gameplay wise players enjoyed the idea of having multiple playable characters and how the level design emphasized on it.
The main criticism was for the games melee combat and how the player movesets arent very varied. That was to be expected, because thanks to the time constraints combat in general had less of a focus. Still its an aspect I would like to improve on in a future project.