Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: Last Night On Earth by Flying Frog Productions

The work day is ending and the stillness of evening sets in on a quiet Midwest town, the kind of town where the high school, the police station, the junkyard and a farm are all within a short walk of each other.  Johnny, the high school quarterback is getting in a few more reps in at  the high school gym; Sheriff Anderson is locking up at the police station while his son Billy stashes his belongings in his locker.

Then, a blood-curdling scream echoes through the small town... Jenny, the farmer's daughter, on her evening walk through the cornfield!

The dead are rising, and it might just be these folks' last night on Earth...

Immediately all four of them spring into action; if there is one thing living in a small country town will impart on you, it's the sense to protect your own hide.  Jenny flees back into the farm house and rifles through the tools of her father, finding a common axe.  "This should help me deal with whatever that was in the cornfield!" she thought out loud!

  • On a player's turn, they can perform the following four actions in any order: move (or search the building they are in for items), exchange items (with other players in the same tile), shoot firearms (if they have one and have a zombie in line of sight and in range) and fight zombies (if they are in the same tile as the zombie).

Sheriff Anderson steps out the front door of the police station and sees figures shuffling out of the graveyard... he takes two steps closer and shines his flashlight on the group.  "Is that... Old Man Larry?  But he died three years ago!  And Beatrice!  She died two years ago!  Oh God!"  Sheriff Anderson calls on his training in law enforcement and pulls his trusty revolver!


  • Each character has notable features about themselves that give them an edge.  Billy and Johnny are both "Young" and can spend a turn to heal a wound.  Sheriff Anderson starts off with a revolver, and Jenny, as a "Farm Girl", fights better in the cornfield than anywhere else in town.

As gunshots ring out in the dusk, Johnny steadies himself.  "All right now Ace, you're the quarterback of the football team!  You can handle yourself in pressure-packed situations!".  Hearing the shots fired, Johnny searches the gymnasium for any sort of weapon and finds... a shotgun!?

  • Searching requires the player be in a building, and gives up their movement for the turn, but allows them to pull the top card from the Heroes deck.  In this case, Johnny found a shotgun...  in the high school.

Billy too hears the gunshots, and leaves his locker as his books spill out onto the floor.  Frantically running from room to room, Billy opens the Faculty lounge office and finds the Principal!  "Principal, come quick!  Something's going on!"

  • The Heroes deck includes more than just items; in this case Billy found a companion card, the Principal, who adds extra abilities to Billy's standard abilities, as long as Billy has the card.

The zombies shuffle closer to our heroes, literally ripping through the walls of the farmhouse to get at Jenny.  She picks up the axe and runs out the front door to the fields to find someone, anyone to help.  Sheriff Anderson backs away from the undead and fires his revolver again, hitting one of them between the eyes and dropping it to the ground, lifeless once more.  He cocks to fire again, but... the gun jams!

  • Item cards don't last forever; every time one is used, a dice is rolled to see if it breaks.

Johnny sprints out of the gym's double doors and comes face to face with two walkers.  Bringing his shotgun up to aim and silently thanking his father for all those trips to skeet shoot, he fires twice... two hits!  Zombie brains splatter in the evening air, viscera shimmering in the light of the setting sun.  As Johnny fistpumps, Billy and the Principal search through the school cafeteria and find a meat cleaver.  "This should do the trick," Billy exclaims!

The zombies, incensed by their numbers being thinned by their intended meals, grow fiercer.  Their growls and gurgles intensify in volume and severity!

  • One player actually plays the role of the zombies and has their own deck of cards to draw from and play.  In this case, the zombie player played a card that made the zombies even tougher to deal with, increasing their movement and attack ability.

Jenny sees the flashes of Johnny's shotgun outside of the high school just beyond her father's cornfield.  She sprints through the maize but stops in her tracks as hands reach through the corn and grasp at her ankle!  She swings her axe at one of the undead and caves it's head in; being raised on a farm will make a girl country strong... but the second one takes a bite out of her calf.

  • Characters don't die from a single bite.  Each character can take a Wound or two before they are dead.

Sheriff Anderson, having retreated back into the police station, quickly finds another revolver in the weapons locker.  He inspects it to make sure it won't jam like the last, and prepares himself for the zombies at the door.  Billy and Johnny, meanwhile, find each other just outside the school doors, and decide to make a break for the old junkyard.  Perhaps there they can find some car to get them out of this hell hole!

Meanwhile, Jenny limps along... until another zombie emerges from the corn.  She swings with all her might, but only wings the creature as it buries it's teeth into her neck.  The zombies claim their first victim.  She falls... but rises once more as... Jenny the Zombie.

  • When a character is overcome by zombies and dies, their miniature now belongs to the Zombie Player and acts as an extra powerful Zombie.  The player who controlled that character then draws a new character.  In this way, there is no player "death" (in that all players are in the game until the end), but the zombie player is rewarded for taking down one of the other players.

Nurse Becky awakes from her office in the high school... "Zwuh?  Huh?  What is all that racket?"  She clears the proverbial cobwebs from her eyes and looks around the room... next to her lies the shop teacher, Mr. Smith.

  • Formerly playing Jenny, now playing Nurse Becky, the player searches the room and draws a card... it is the Shop Teacher companion.  Why were the school nurse and the shop teacher in her office well after school hours?  You connect the dots.

As the zombies bust through the door to the police station, Sheriff Anderson fires a shot that narrowly misses.  The zombies all lunge for him, he plants a boot firmly in the face of the first, but the second and third and fourth are too much for anyone to handle as they grab hold of his leg and make a meal out of him.  Their meal is short lived as he immediately rises, with pallid skin and sunken eyes... Zombie Sheriff Anderson.


However, were he not undead, Sheriff Anderson would be proud of his son Billy, who races to the junkyard and swiftly lops off the head of the first walker he sees with his meat cleaver.  "Billy, look out," yells Johnny, as two more zombies threaten the teenager, but Johnny blasts them both with his shotgun, covering Billy in blood and brain matter.  The two laugh; they were on opposite ends of the social spectrum in school, but tonight... tonight they are warriors, bound in blood, and will do what they must to ensure each other's survival.  They know the only way to get through the night is to take down as many of the undead as they can!

  • Last Night On Earth comes with different scenarios, the one I played was Die Zombie Die! where the goal was to kill 15 zombies before the sunset.  Other scenarios involve finding a set of items to allow the characters to leave the town before sunset.  What all games have in common are zombie fighting (naturally) and the sunset ticker... if the sun sets before the characters fulfill their goal, the zombies win.

They will not go down without a fight!  They will not let this night be their last night on Earth!


John H. C. Staton is a software developer and Ph.D. candidate.  He was sick last week and could not write.  Luckily, he was not sick with whatever turns people into zombies.  Nobody wants a zombie John.  He still has a website found at FancypantsMonkey.com.  It's still not a whole lot to look at.  He also tweets occasionally at @johnhcstaton though RunKeeper tends to tweet more often there than he does.