In the last few years, we’ve started to get a lot of space games that make the days of Battlecruiser 3000AD feel even farther away (that’s ancient history for space games). Aside from EVE Online, there have been quite a few space titles here and there, then the gaming world got inundated with the likes of Endless Space, Strike Suit, Star Citizen, and so on. Then there’s The Last Federation, which is good if you’re looking for something different.
The Last Federation is a hybrid of grand space strategy and real-time combat with pause mode, developed by Arcen Games with the goal of providing a deep tactical sci-fi experience. It’s a bit like Sins of a Solar Empire with a deeper focus, as if it’s a bit of a role-playing game. You are faced with a star system that contains a dynamic set of alien worlds that can result in a whole slew of circumstances for you, and you must do your best to get a hold of them through either diplomacy or military action.
Despite its similarities with most other strategy titles, the way this game combines its gameplay elements sets it apart from the rest. You are not some omnipresent commander who watches over his fleet; you control a ship, and you must spread your influence from there. The goal is to create a Federation that brings all the alien species in the system together to bring about peace and prevent yet another grand conflict. You must employ a mix of both tact and immediacy to get past every problem.
There are eight alien species to contend with, each with their own culture and mindset. They have their own societies that progress and evolve as time goes on, and they interact with each other on their own as well. Some are peace-loving and easy to connect with, while others are more warlike and militaristic. This means that you have to plan out your approach in order to not provoke the wrong aliens and to appease the right ones at the most opportune time.
In-game visuals feature a futuristic-looking interface that’s easy enough to understand with clear typography and adequately bright color scheme that stands out from the rest of the graphics. As for the music, it’s not chiptune like FTL, but more like a rocking MIDI track from Garage Band, which actually suits the gameplay quite a bit, especially during more action-filled parts of the game.
From the visuals that show planets orbiting around a sun and ships circling around, along with all the data and other visual elements that give off that sci-fi vibe, most would think at first that the gameplay would be frantic, but that’s far from the truth. This is a rather subdued game that is all about the player taking time to consider every decision before every action, either diplomatic or hostile. If you jump into the war and genocide, you could be punished severely for your lack of vision.
As it gets to the late game though, if you do well enough in macromanagement, you can build up enough force to just smash through almost everything, unless you come across that one alien world full of extraterrestrial warriors (like the Krogan in the Mass Effect series). Perhaps you can save them for last if you’re looking to dominate the whole system, after either eliminating or allying with the other alien worlds. But other than that, you don’t need much in terms of strategy other than picking your battles and biding your time.
For those who are into space sims that let you fight pirates and interact with alien worlds, like FTL on a bigger scale, then this game could be for you. While it’s not much about strategy as it is more on tactics, it’s still a good experience with some depth in both gameplay and story.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8/10