An atmospheric dystopian platformer, One Last Breath takes place on a darkly futuristic Earth on the brink of death. The planet is so horrifically polluted that only the strewn detritus of the long extinct humanity make it recognisable. You play as Gaia in a 2.5D journey through the haunted wreckage of the world in an attempt to find hope.

The gameplay is fairly simple. You travel across the map navigating obstacles in your way by pulling levers, pushing blocks and occasionally using your special ability to summon vines. For the most part, the puzzles aren’t particularly difficult to solve, as the game focuses more on the world.

One Last Breath’s strong suit is the atmosphere. The environments take the form of a somewhat familiar post-apocalyptic planet bathed in a sometimes irritating amount of darkness, but are well generally constructed. The occasional scene that shines a light on the harrowing state of the world and the horrible monsters inhabiting now are brilliantly creepy.

This is complemented by an awesome soundtrack and very satisfyingly chilling sound effects. This is further compounded by the way the Joy-con throb in your hand along with the character’s heartbeat in moments of tension. Some of these little details that have been implemented are really fantastic.

The issues you’re more likely to face are due to slightly clunky mechanics. The controls aren’t particularly precise and it’s not always clear if you’re standing slightly too far away from something you’re supposed to be able to interact with. The set speed at which you travel is also somewhat frustrating. There are points where you need to jump onto something, or flee from or sneak past a monster, and those moments fall flat due to not having control over your speed.

This seems as if the main pain points could be down to the 2.5D structure, which is an ambitious approach that is difficult to pull off. Occasionally, a puzzle will require depth perception, but not frequently enough that you get into a habit of factoring the background into your approach.

It would be nice to see more of the vine mechanic, as the idea of it ties nicely into the premise of the game. This ability can only be used in a handful of specific situations. There are a number of puzzles throughout the game that look like the vine mechanic would be useful where it isn’t the option and you can’t even try. It makes it very clear that there is only one available solution to each puzzle and little room to experiment with the one unique feature your playable character has.

This mechanic could also have been an interesting vehicle to highlight more of the story. One Last Breath is silent, leaving it up to you to piece together the narrative for yourself. This is another common but difficult feat that could be better implemented in this game. There isn’t enough in the landscape or puzzles to distinguish One Last Breath from other generic, post apocalyptic sci fi and make its own plot clear. 

The environmental message and the story of hope in the face of utter destruction in One Last Breath is one that resonates. The depiction of the ruined world is great, with some attention to detail coming through beautifully. However, other details that make similar games shine fall flat in this one, and the story outlined in the game’s description doesn’t come through as clearly as it could in the actual gameplay. For a short, cheap game, there is plenty that is enjoyable, but it is overshadowed by its competition in the genre.