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Play the Planet of the Apes game that time forgot after watching the new movie

Bryn in Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier
The Imaginarium

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes hits theaters this weekend. If you were hoping to find ways to spend more time in that world through video games, your options are surprisingly slim. Your only easy option is Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier. This is a game I’ve seen almost no one talk about since it was released, but it’s a fascinating title that warrants a revisit.

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is set in the universe of this rebooted Planet of the Apes saga and is essentially a playable movie where players make choices to affect the narrative. It was even made by The Imaginarium, a production company founded by motion capture master Andy Serkis. Released for PS4 in 2017 before coming to PC and Xbox in 2018, Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier barely mustered much attention at and after its release.

It got mixed reviews, had an incredibly low concurrent player count on Steam, and requires some workarounds to get up and running if you aren’t playing on a console nowadays. Although Last Frontier is only seven years old at this point, it feels like the Planet of the Apes video game that time forgot. That’s a shame because Last Frontier is actually much better than its middling reviews

Fear itself

Last Frontier tells a standalone story that takes place in the midst of the war between Apes and humans in the wake of Caesar’s uprising and the spread of the Simian Flu. It follows two central characters, an ape named Bryn and a human named Jess. Bryn is part of a tribe of apes that broke off from Caesar and found refuge in a mountain; unfortunately, their food supply is starting to run very low. Meanwhile, Jess is trying to assert herself as the leader of a small community of humans after her husband’s passing.

A choice in Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier.
The Imaginarium

While Bryn and Jess’ journeys start separate, they eventually collide as Bryn’s tribe gets more desperate and starts to search for food in human territory. On the other side, ape hunters roll up to Jess’ town and offer to help deal with them. Last Frontier is a game about fear and how it influences our actions. Bryn and Jess’ respective communities were struggling but at least surviving on their own, but fear of the other fuels destructive tendencies that eventually put the two groups in conflict.

Last Frontier tells a personal, intimate story like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, rather than the summer blockbuster Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is. It’s backed up by fantastic performances realized through performance capture that make the game look pretty amazing even years later. Neil Newbon, who you may recognize as Game Awards winner and voice actor of Astarion in Baldur’s Gate 3, delivers an excellent performance as Bryn in particular.

More Bandersnatch than Life is Strange

Last Frontier features an enthralling story that I wish I could talk with more people about. Unfortunately, it didn’t really catch on, and I think I can chalk that up to how it plays. I called Last Frontier a lost Planet of the Apes movie earlier because it essentially is one. It lasts just over three hours with very limited interaction. Every minute or two, a dialogue choice will appear on screen, and players have to make a decision that affects the story in a small or big way. Occasionally, players have to press a button to shoot a gun too. In terms of interaction, that’s it.

Shooting a gun in Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier.
The Imaginarium

Last Frontier is much more similar to Black Mirror: Bandersnatch or As Dusk Falls in how it lets players interact rather than a more traditional narrative adventure title from a studio like Telltale or Deck Nine. At the time, reviews seemed to dislike that, as they wanted more interaction. Seven years and countless more narrative-focused games later, it’s not much of an issue. I got invested in completing Last Frontier the same way I get invested in TV shows: I binged it after work hours over the course of two days.

That makes me wonder if Last Frontier would’ve had more success if it was sold as an interactive animated movie on Netflix rather than a gorgeous, but restrictive, game on PS4, PC, and Xbox One. It’s a shame it’s a bit difficult to get up and running on PC nowadays, but the console versions should be much easier to boot up. If you’ve enjoyed this new era of Planet of the Apes but haven’t checked out Last Frontier, then Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes gives you the perfect excuse to rediscover this underrated game.

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Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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