Skip to main content

Investigate your own murder in 'Last Life'

Investigate your own murder in 'Last Life'


An upcoming detective story with a dash of transhumanism

Share this story

In most games, when you die the experience is over. In Last Life, death is just the beginning.

The upcoming adventure game is a detective story with a twist, where you're investigating your own murder from beyond the grave thanks to a 3D-printed body. It's a unique and stylish blend of noir and science fiction, coupled with the increasingly popular episodic structure found in games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. For developer Sam Farmer, who's been passionate about science fiction and transhumanism for years, it's also a project that's been brewing for some time.

"I decided to make an adventure game based around those themes I loved," he says. "The idea of investigating your own murder came soon after, and then my imagination basically exploded, which, in this case, was a great thing."

"It's like Orlando, Florida. But on Mars."

Last Life takes place nearly a decade after a massive disaster has left Earth uninhabitable, forcing the few surviving humans to scatter to different colonies throughout the galaxy. One of those colonies is on Mars, but it isn't quite the sci-fi city you might be imagining — it's a tourist destination called MarsTopia that's been turned into a makeshift settlement for refugees. "It's like Orlando, Florida," says Farmer. "But on Mars."

Private investigator Jack Parker is one of those survivors, though his stay on the red planet doesn't last long as he's gunned down just prior to the events of the game. However, he has a slim chance to find out who did it — once every year deceased MarsTopia residents are temporarily brought back to life in 3D-printed bodies so that they can enjoy a special holiday appropriately called Dead Man's Party. Parker decides to use that time to find out just who killed him, and hopefully find a way to extend his time in the new body. Farmer says the game will be heavy on atmosphere and story, much like the surreal and beautiful adventure Kentucky Route Zero, but with some light action sequences and good old-fashioned sleuthing to round out the gameplay. You'll be searching for evidence, interrogating witnesses, and generally being a traditional PI in a non-traditional body.

A traditional private investigator in a non-traditional body

Farmer seems particularly interested in the science and technology behind the world. When trying to decide on the setting, for instance, he consulted with some scientists from NASA about reasons why people might want to go to Mars. It turned out the best financial incentive was tourism. A similar level of thought and care appears to have gone into other aspects of the game's backstory and world building, such as the temporary body lead character Parker finds himself in. "The 3D printing idea just feels like a natural evolution of the technology," says Farmer. "I mean, we're already printing organs. And I'm fascinated by the implications of this tech and how it could lead to a post-scarcity society."

Currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign, Last Life has already attracted the attention of game studio Double Fine. It will be one of the first games to fall under the "Double Fine Presents" banner, which means that the studio will be helping Farmer with everything from distribution to localization, as well as consulting on the crowdfunding campaign. (Double Fine previously ran a massively successful Kickstarter to fund development of this year's excellent adventure Broken Age.) "Just to meet my personal hero, Tim Schafer, is mind-blowing," says Farmer.


The initial bout of funding will allow Farmer and his small team to release the first episode of the game, which is expected to launch by around May of next year. But he already has a three-episodic story arc planned out, with the goal of releasing subsequent episodes on an annual basis. "Last Life takes place in a fully imagined future universe, rich enough in scientific, technological, political, and economic battles to spawn many stories and many important themes," he says. "The world presents an awesome stage to present controversial issues in a unique way." The story and its structure are inspired by everything from Twin Peaks to The Walking Dead game series.

With Kentucky Route Zero, Broken Age, and Telltale Games' ongoing efforts, we're seeing something of a renaissance for traditional adventure games, and if funded Last Life could be the latest on that list. And its sci-fi detective theme has the potential to offer some interesting new twists on the format.

"An adventure game is really a perfect vehicle to challenge players abilities to deduce what's going on," says Farmer, "and reward them for looking deeper to uncover the truth."

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed An hour ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

Emma RothAn hour ago
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.

External Link
Russell BrandomAn hour ago
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?

Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther Wang12:00 PM UTC
Richard LawlerTwo hours ago
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.

External Link
Emma Roth4:13 PM UTC
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.

External Link
Andrew J. Hawkins3:37 PM UTC
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.

James Vincent3:17 PM UTC
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.

Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
The Verge
James Vincent3:03 PM UTC
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.

External Link
Elizabeth Lopatto2:41 PM UTC
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.

The Verge
Richard Lawler2:09 PM UTC
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.

The Verge
Richard Lawler1:00 PM UTC
Green light.

Good morning to everyone, except for the intern or whoever prevented us from seeing how Microsoft’s Surface held up to yet another violent NFL incident.

Today’s big event is the crash of a NASA spaceship this evening — on purpose. Mary Beth Griggs can explain.

David Pierce12:54 PM UTC
Thousands and thousands of reasons people love Android.

“Android fans, what are the primary reasons why you will never ever switch to an iPhone?” That question led to almost 30,000 comments so far, and was for a while the most popular thing on Reddit. It’s a totally fascinating peek into the platform wars, and I’ve spent way too much time reading through it. I also laughed hard at “I can turn my text bubbles to any color I like.”