The Last Taxi Review – Leaving The Meter Running

The Last Taxi has an intriguing idea at its heart but, ultimately, you should keep the meter running. Here’s our The Last Taxi review.

Since the launch of Papers, Please in 2013 brought the concept of the darkly satirical simulation game to everyone’s consciousness, there has been a steady rise in the number of games experimenting with the concept. Developer ZenFri is the latest to attempt a VR spin on the idea, with The Last Taxi. 

The player takes the role of the only human taxi driver in a dark, dystopian mega city where widespread robot automation has left the remaining humans scrabbling to make ends meet. The player character buys a modified flying taxi from the slightly shady Buck, who also serves as a tutorial provider, informing the player of the various functions of the cab you are now responsible for. Buck also acts as our first fare, presenting the first chance to get to grips with the mechanics and learn the basics of how to make the customer happy. 

Sadly, the disappointments begin straight away. The cab drives itself down a pre-determined route for each fare. The player only needs to operate functions such as the windscreen wipers and horn, and most importantly respond correctly to your customer’s conversation, with the best responses bumping up your star rating and thus earning you more money. You can also choose to record any conversation that appears to contain evidence of illegal activity and dob them in to the police for a nice monetary reward. 

Clearly, this isn’t Crazy Taxi and, in fairness, it isn’t meant to be. But it’s strange to be put in the driver’s seat of a vehicle and not have at least some control over its direction. Even measuring subtle changes in driving patterns to affect your overall rating would have given The Last Taxi’s gameplay a bit more substance.

One underutilized mechanic is the power systems for the various cab gadgets and the mods you can acquire as you play. These are powered by your blood, using a vial which is inserted into the back of your hand. Extra vials cost money and you’d think that overuse of this unique power system would have some tangible effect on your well-being; perhaps a visual effect to show the player character getting woozy from blood loss. But nope – being forced into buying extra vials is the only downside. 

The world itself seems interesting; a highly stratified cyberpunk society with sharp divisions between the haves and the have-nots. There’s plenty of lore available, not just in the cab conversations but also in the various digital newspaper articles you can peruse when you have the time. It’s just a shame that this isn’t explored in more depth, or properly integrated into the gameplay. There are various moral dilemmas, but the only consequences seem to be with regards to your bank balance, which makes you feel oddly distanced and unaffected, even by some of the more heart-wrenching stories that pass into the backseat of your taxi.

The Last Taxi Review 2

There are no subtitles, so the only way to know what your customers are saying is to listen carefully, which presents some accessibility problems. The cab ‘console’ can be adjusted with in game, but even though it seems logical for a taxi driving simulator to be played sitting, actually sitting down makes it hard to properly see the cab monitors, no matter how you adjust the console. 

This highlights one particular concern with The Last Taxi – why did it need to be in VR? The game doesn’t seem to benefit from the additional immersion of the VR setup. Interacting with the cab gadgets is often fiddly, and the environment is only glimpsed through the narrow aperture of your taxi windows. Its difficult to determine what the VR aspect provides that a similar ‘flat’ game would not. 

The Last Taxi at least has a competently put-together world. The art style and animation is stylised and reasonably pleasing to look at, despite occasional lip-sync issues. Though the anti-aliasing on the borders needs to be tweaked, as the way everything fuzzes at the edges, which is very distracting. The general aesthetic seems to be going for 70s/80s throwback cyberpunk, as seen with tutorial character and his hideous knitted tank top or the dark mega city environments drenched in pollution only occasionally lit by flashes of neon. 

The music is oddly unfitting. The soundtrack veers towards melancholy piano tracks, which are fine for some of the sad stories expressed by your customers, but otherwise doesn’t fit the general feel of the world at all. The developers would have been better off taking a leaf from Bladerunner’s book and going for a Vangelis-inspired electronic/synth soundtrack. 

The sound design otherwise is fine, with the various cab functions providing reasonably satisfying clicks, beeps and other sounds. The voice acting is very good, which is just as well, since these conversations provide the majority of gameplay and interaction. Characters like the robot maid have an electronic modulation to make them sound appropriately artificial, while still retaining a significant degree of personality. 

One problem with The Last Taxi is in regards to its loading times and stability. It can take well over five minutes to load, and will sometimes crash on start-up. There are other stability problems within the game itself, making for a frustrating experience and speaking of a need for further optimisation.

The Last Taxi Review – Final Impressions

The central premise of The Last Taxi is an interesting and solid one, and the world created around it has some potential, but it lacks the high stakes and desperation of Papers, Please, not to mention potential for any driving mechanics. Instead, the player engages with a competently made Uber driver simulator, trying to juggle your bank balance and say the correct soothing words to your customer to make them give you a high rating. The result is uncomfortably close to real life for those who have ever worked in any customer service role. 

The Last Taxi had such potential to create an interesting, interactive universe, but ultimately fails to properly capitalize on its premise. The game lacks depth, and its half-hearted attempts at political satire fall flat in an experience that lacks significant impact.

UploadVR recently changed its review guidelines, and this is one of our new unlabelled review categories. You can read more about our review guidelines here

What did you make of our The Last Taxi review? Let us know in the comments below!

The VR Drop: Hailing The Last Beat

Welcome to another weekly edition of The VR Drop, where gmw3 looks ahead to see what exciting virtual reality (VR) videogames are coming to a headset near you in the coming days. We’ve got a full roster to end the month of May and welcome in June, from brain teasers to energetic rhythm titles.

The Last Taxi – ZenFri Inc.

Take part in a narrative set in a far-flung future where you’re the very last human taxi driver. The usual dystopian nightmare where surveillance, automation and human modification run rife, The Last Taxi is all about picking up fares and being chatty to earn tips and upgrade your ride. However, conversations with your passengers soon reveal the darker side of the city, putting you in the middle of whether to inform the authorities and the repercussions of doing so.

The Last Clockwinder – Pontoco

Time for a clone making brain tickler in The Last Clockwinder. Inside an ancient tree, there are valuable plants and seeds to save, only achieved by getting the place in working order. To do so you’ll need to plant seeds to grow and harvest the fruit needed to power the place, and many hands make light work. But as there’s only one of you, you’ll need to carefully clone yourself over and over again, performing tasks that all need to link up like one giant Rube Goldberg machine.

The Last Clockwinder

First Person Tennis – The Real Tennis Simulator – Mikori Games

Originally released back in 2019 for PC VR headsets, First Person Tennis – The Real Tennis Simulator then arrived for Meta Quest’s App Lab late last year. Next week, the tennis simulator will see an official Oculus Store release, making it easier for Quest owners to find the videogame. Offering both single-player and multiplayer modes, First Person Tennis has both Arcade and Simulation settings, clay, grass, indoor synthetic and more court surfaces as well as 13 tournaments (4 Slam and 9 Masters); everything a VR tennis fan needs.

Drums Rock – Garage51

It doesn’t feel like a proper VR Drop without at least one rhythm action title on the list, next week in the form of Drums Rock. This is another VR videogame making it to new headsets, coming to SteamVR having initially released as a Quest App Lab title. As the name suggests, Drums Rock sits you behind a classic drum setup, with a 4+ hour campaign to play through featuring Hard rock, heavy metal, Nu metal, and other genres. As this is an Early Access title, developer Garage51 plans on adding further content, already collaborating with Until You Fall from Schell Games.

Drums Rock

CAVE – Sable Studio

Finally, there’s CAVE VR, an explorative puzzler set inside a cave system – hope you are not scared of tight spaces. Discover the hidden secrets of the cave, with ancient ruins littered with puzzles that block your way back to the surface.

  • Supported platform(s): Oculus Rift
  • Launch date: 3rd June

The Last Taxi Is A VR Uber Simulator Coming Next Month

The Last Taxi is a game all about making conversation with an increasingly eccentric cast of characters.

Developed by ZenFri, the indie project hits PC VR headsets on May 31 via Steam. In the game, you step into the role of the last human taxi driver that patrols the skylines and underbelly of a dystopian mega city. As you carry passengers around you’ll be tasked with making conversation and keeping fares engaged as the meter rises. Check it out in the launch trailer below.

The Last Taxi Trailer

The futuristic world is split right down the middle, with many of the city’s residents obscenely rich whereas others are steeped in poverty. Over 80 characters await, each one presenting a new challenge to try and keep happy. Plus there are smaller interactions to explore from the driver’s seat. It’s certainly a unique looking VR game with a distinct art style, and we’ll be looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

Will you be trying out The Last Taxi when it launches next month? Let us know in the comments below!

Take The Last Taxi on Steam This May

Taxis are never just about getting from A to B, they’re small microcosms filled with interesting characters and their stories. Today, developer ZenFri Inc. has announced that its upcoming virtual reality (VR) title The Last Taxi will be pulling up to headsets on Steam at the end of May.

You play the very last human driver in this narrative-driven adventure, toiling away in a dystopian future where surveillance, automation and human modification run rife. Featuring a cast of over 80 characters, in The Last Taxi you must transport your passengers whilst engaging them in conversation but events take a turn when an anti-technology cult member leaves an undocumented baby in your cab.

Like any cab driver, if you keep your customers happy and chatty they’ll be more likely to tip, earning you more money to buy upgrades. These range from new tools to hijack cargo and hacking toll booths to enhancing customer experience. You’ll also need to keep them alive by avoiding environmental hazards and maximise those tips by managing malfunctioning equipment.

As mentioned, this is a surveillance state so taxis are fitted with mandatory listening devices. This means as your passengers talk and reveal personal dilemmas they may also talk about the darker workings of the megacity. There are harsh penalties if you don’t report a suspicious character to authorities and lucrative opportunities if you do. But some may not always be so easy to judge.

“We wanted to explore stories within an expansive post-collapse and environmentally ravaged world. The Last Taxi mirrors today’s climate of division and existential threats. With the art of conversation at its core, we leave all choices firmly in the player’s hands,” said Dee King, Co-Founder of ZenFri Inc. in a statement. “When a wounded cult member abandons a mysterious baby, a rarity even in the wealthiest parts, you’re thrown into an adventure that cuts across all levels of society and brings about choices that can change the future of humanity’s last city on Earth.”

The Last Taxi is currently scheduled to launch on Steam for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index on 31st May 2022, retailing for $29.99 USD/ €26.99 EUR/ £22.99 GBP. For further updates on the latest VR game releases keep reading gmw3.