The Last Exterminator on Steam 1
Ironworks Games

The Last Exterminator is a game that wears its influences on its sleeves. Though the burgeoning “boomer shooter” subgenre of first-person shooters has garnered a plethora of games inspired by their 1990s counterparts, it’s hard to find an example that authentically recreates its primary inspiration as well as The Last Exterminator. Is that ultimately all this indie labor of love has going for it? Maybe, maybe not.

Before we continue, it’s important to note that the developer and publisher of The Last Exterminator, Ironworks Games, has stated that the demo may not be indicative of the final product. While we can interpret the demo and analyze it for its own merits, the final product it’s associated with may turn out drastically different. We can reasonably assume that the core of the experience found in the demo will be at least partially associated with the retail release.

And what a core it is. Aside from paying tribute to Duke Nukem 3D on the title screen, those familiar with the Duke will find that The Last Exterminator may as well be a full-on tribute to 3D Realms’ macho FPS series. Everything from the title screen to the font utilized in its menus to the wonderful soundalike of Lee Jackson’s musical compositions all invoke a nostalgic memory of 3D Realms’ most popular IP. Our protagonist, Kira Parker, even references an iconic quip from the machismo action star himself after her beloved van is destroyed.

Speaking of which, we have the premise, which The Last Exterminator is more than upfront about. Billed as a throwback to boomer shooters, we play as Kira Parker, an everyday exterminator struggling to make ends meet. As she’s wrapping up a typical job one dreary night, an alien invasion comprised of heavily armed insect-like creatures floods the city. Unfortunately, her aforementioned van is caught in the crossfire. Left with nothing to her name, Kira opts to make a name for herself by directly involving herself in the conflict, gunning down aliens while investigating their motivations. The game, like those it takes after, is planned to run for three episodes, with dozens upon dozens of hidden easter eggs and secrets to discover in each of their levels.

The Last Exterminator on Steam
Ironworks Games

Though The Last Exterminator doesn’t run on Ken Silverman’s Build Engine, the very same engine used for Duke Nukem 3D, an effort was made to recreate that engine’s functions from the ground up with some modern flourishes. Though textures on character models and weapons are a bit low-res, the models themselves are completely three-dimensional with distinct silhouettes. Along with creating an entire custom engine, Ironworks Games even went the extra mile in implementing a full suite of modding tools and an in-engine level editor, laying the foundation for what will hopefully be a burgeoning bundle of community content in the future.

As for how the game plays? There’s a solid core to be found, though it’ll likely be even more fun with future additions. As it stands, you have a single full level from the campaign, four different weapons, and three kinds of enemies to fight. You have your typical starter pack for boomer shooter arsenals: a pistol, a shotgun, a submachine gun, and, in a surprising deviation from the norm, an explosive disc weapon. There’s some decent impact when firing them, and because of the custom engine, there’s a surprising amount of environmental interactivity when it comes to your bullets.

Errant shots can blow up glass fixtures or light up the environment, enemy giblets are knocked all over the place when they’re blown up, and you can even find casings from spent ammunition lining the floor as you’re jumping around. You can even punch things if need be, though it really should be reserved as a last resort.

In as little as one map, you’ll be knocking down buildings, blowing out glass, platforming along blown-up structures, and more. In true boomer shooter fashion, the single level available here is chock-full of things you can freely interact with as well, with one notable example being a primitive, if not enjoyable, arcade machine. You won’t spend hours playing it, but it’s the novelty that makes it fun. Little details like that make levels infinitely more memorable, and we can hopefully expect a similar degree of interactivity throughout future levels to come.

The Last Exterminator on Steam 2
Ironworks Games

It’s too early to judge enemy variety fairly. What’s here is serviceable enough, if not a bit familiar. Your typical fodder with weak ranged weapons, an upgraded variety with automatic fire, and a hulking bruiser that quickly closes the distance are all staples of the genre. It’s fine and dandy to utilize what already works, but we’re anxious to see what unique enemies The Last Exterminator can bring to the table in the future. They’re certainly difficult enough on the hardest setting available.

Overall, The Last Exterminator looks to be yet another promising boomer shooter throwback. While there’s still plenty of work to be done on all fronts, what’s here paints a hopeful picture of what may very well be a successful community-driven FPS game. Ironworks Games has been thoroughly transparent about potential technical issues with the demo and encourages any problems to be brought up on the game’s respective Steam Forums.

The Last Exterminator currently has no price or a release date. It’s currently available on Steam, with its demo available as part of the Steam Next Fest.

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