Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review of The House Theatre of Chicago's The Last Defender

Once upon a time I played a game and it was called The Last Defender. It was written and directed by Nathan Allen, with art direction by Chris Burnham. It was kind of like watching a show except you were making it. There was a plot and everything, about being a defender and trying to save the world when a nuclear disaster is happening, but it was kind of a choose-your-own-adventure because you had to make the outcome and it depends on the choices you make. It was everyone working together to solve puzzles (designed by Sandor Weisz) to save the world. I had a lot of fun doing this game. I found this game very exciting and it was also very nerve-wracking.

At the very beginning of the game, you get a tag which has your character name and your section. My mom and I were in Engineering. We had these lockers and we could put our stuff in them. And inside the locker was a jumpsuit (costume design by Melissa Torchia). They were orange with lots of cool patches. Mine was a little big for me, but that is understandable because I am smaller than most of the people there. We went down in the elevator. And the elevator actually seemed like it was actually working! Then the doors open and you see this huge control room (set design by Lee Keenan) with puzzles and rabbits (Elizabeth Penrose and Logan Jones) and a bear (Brian DesGranges) standing around. I was kind of mesmerized in the moment. But you have to get in there and get to work before time runs out!

You have to watch an instructional video (designed by Lucas Merino) which is all about the company you are working for and what you have to do. The person who is telling you about all this stuff is Dr. Truman Heston (Christopher Hainsworth) and he is telling you about how difficult it is to be a Defender. And I thought, "Uh oh. I'm not going to be very good at this." But we ended up doing better than I expected. The way that they talk so nonchalantly about how we could blow up the world at any minute I found kind of hilarious. When they show videos of the Defenders doing their work, it was pretty funny because they were all so happy and were like, "We're dealing with nuclear weapons. Yay!" :-) There was also a giant board where you had to put in plugs and switch switches that they told you to switch and plug. If you didn't do it in time, you had to start all over, which could be frustrating but it was also fun. I found it so fun to try to switch all the things in order.

I really liked this game, but there were a few things I found frustrating. The show is not meant for people my age, but I think people my age can have a lot of fun at it, but they might also get kind of frustrated. I liked that the games were hard, but I didn't like the attitude of some of the other players. Some of them didn't want to cooperate or listen to anyone's suggestions, especially a kid's. It was also very frustrating to talk with the rabbits because they can't talk to you but they can give you clues. They would mime things that were sometimes hard to understand. I was also kind of frustrated when I went to do two different kinds of jobs with these bunks, and they ended up being useless, and I could have just helped my team with other things. I would suggest asking very simple questions to the rabbits, going with a group of friends, staying calm, and talking nicely to other players for an even more enjoyable time for everybody.

People who would like this game are people who like choose-your-own-adventure stories, switching and plugging things, and learning how playing with nuclear weapons can be fun! I think people should go play this game. It is so much fun. It was super cool doing it with my mom; she was a great teammate. I hope you guys have great teammates too!

Photos: Johnny Knight

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