Last Epoch Review – Deep Accessibility

Last Epoch Review

Setting aside Soulslikes, action RPGs are my go-to genre. Diablo IV, Path of Exile, Achilles, and the Titan Quest remake are just a handful of recent games that have stolen away the hours from what could have been a productive life. With Last Epoch, my precious gaming time is once again in danger of being happily hijacked. It isn’t perfect, but it’s still a lot of hack-and-lash fun.

Timed Travel

By far, Last Epoch’s story and characters are the weakest elements. Borrowing heavily from games like Chrono Trigger, you are trying to save the land of Eterra from an inevitable cataclysm by traveling through different Epochs. The idea is that, if you destroy evil in one Epoch, you’ll save the present one. ARPGs are not known for compelling narratives, and I’m afraid Last Epoch doesn’t rise above the norm in this regard. The campaign’s story pushes the character forward and back in time, uncovering the past and illuminating the potential future. I’d be lying if I claimed a thorough understanding of it. No matter. As in all ARPGs, the action part counts the most.

While story left me a bit perplexed and, frankly, unengaged, the action and RPG elements did the opposite. Last Epoch does the usual hack-and-slash dungeon crawler stuff quite well, and adds some new ideas to the formula.

Humble Beginnings

Last Epoch grows in depth and complexity, but the initial few hours are a bit blandly familiar. There are only five character classes to choose from, covering the absolute fantasy RPG basics. You know the drill: tanky fighter, rogue, mage, necromancer, and ranger with a pet. Of course, they all start with recognizable tools of their trades, like a wolf buddy, short-range magic spells, or summoned skeletons. It’s worth playing through the starter areas to try out each class.

It isn’t until several hours (and levels) in that Last Epoch really starts to shine. The basic classes split into three distinctive sub-classes, each with particular abilities, spells, and moves. At that point, the somewhat generic starting classes begin to feel less rote and more exciting. It’s a shame it takes so much time to get there, but it’s worth the wait.

Once a character reaches the mid-to-late game stages, Last Epoch’s depth becomes apparent. There are a large number of passive abilities to unlock via questing, weapons can be infinitely customized, and there are skills which continue to evolve and grow in power. In other words, thanks to the synergies of all these systems, characters are far more nuanced, distinctive, and exciting than the opening hours suggest.

The New and the Old

While the majority of Last Epoch’s gameplay mechanics are instantly familiar, a number of smart choices and changes help it stand out. The game explains itself very well. There’s a complete description of gear, skills, and passives and how they interact. It’s easy to swap between builds, and while death is an inconvenience, it isn’t a game-ending punishment.

Once players reach the endgame, there are quite a number of added-value opportunities to keep the fun going. Monoliths of Fate are self-contained, procedurally-generated, unique island zones that offer a choice of stat-enhancing buffs called Blessings for completion. There are additional dungeons and even a wave-based mode. In other words, Last Epoch keeps on giving once the campaign is over.

Last Epoch can be played on or offline and while there is a dreaded cash shop, it only sells cosmetic items like pets, reskins for your town portal, and decorative clothing items.

Built to Last

Last Epoch is definitely one of those games built for dozens of hours of play past the 20-hour-or-so campaign. Players might grow just a bit tired of fighting the same enemies in the early hours, though each Epoch does introduce some new foes. Visually, Last Epoch sticks pretty closes to the traditional fantasy RPG design manual. Many of the environments are nicely detailed but of course the path through the world is relatively linear, so a lot of that detail is window-dressing and non-interactive. The game’s slightly stylized character designs look good at the unchanging middle distance. Spell and weapon effects are colorful and exciting. Big battles are a brilliant fireworks display.

Thanks to a long Early Access development period, Last Epoch comes to full release in pretty good shape, technically speaking, but there were some server issues and problems with the day one patch. My experience has been pretty smooth, but the majority of my playtime has been in the offline mode.

Last Epoch straddles the midpoint between familiar accessibility and depth. There is plenty enough character customization to reward experimentation and repeated play. The basic, addictive ARPG loop is compelling, even if the narrative is a bit muddled. Once past the first few overly familiar hours, Last Epoch starts to really come into its own as an excellent hack-and-slash with lots of potential and staying power.

***PC code provided by the publisher for review***



The Good

  • Addictive hack-and-slash loop
  • Tons of depth but accessible
  • Grows more interesting

The Bad

  • Bland story
  • A bit of enemy repetition
  • Art style is generic fantasy