The Last Federation Review

Screenshot of grand strategy layer in The Last Federation
There are a LOT of notifications in this game
  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Arcen Games
  • Publisher: Arcen Games
  • Release Date: 19 Apr 2014
  • Time played: 3.5 hours

What is it

Arcen Games is an American indie development studio formed in 2009 by Chris Park. The studio is best known for its breakthrough RTS title AI War: Fleet Command but has released several other games since its release that cover a wide range of genres including 2014's The Last Federation

The Last Federation is described as a "grand strategy title" with "turn-based tactical combat" and an overarching real-time with pause strategy layer where you see galactic empires rise and fall where you are able to influence their development. As the last of a race of space dragons called "Hydrals" your goal is to unify the galactic empires into a federation, but that's not going to be easy considering your race was exterminated by the ancestors of those who currently run the place. Diplomacy and combat are the tools at your disposal in order to bring change to the galaxy.

The Last Federation has a Metascore of 72 and a Mostly Positive rating on Steam based on 72% of the 336 user reviews being positive. The game also has a GOG score of 3.8/5 (76%). The late YouTube PC gaming critic John Peter Bain (aka TotalBiscuit) gave The Last Federation a positive review which would've surely helped increase its coverage.

Reviews of the game drew parallels between The Last Federation and Space Rangers and the more positive reviews tend to praise the game for its political intrigue aspects and the fact you manipulate events from the shadows, however these are the same reasons the game are criticised, as players looking for another sci-fi 4X title like Master of Orion are disappointed by the lack of agency or ability to lead an actual empire yourself.

How I got it

I've received a lot of games as birthday and Christmas presents over the years and while it's disheartening to see all the games that are remaining unplayed on the Pile of Shame, I feel especially guilty about the ones that were bought for me as gifts. I've recently tried to focus on games that were bought to me as a gift and The Last Federation happens to be one of these games. I received the game as a birthday present from my brother way back in 2015 so I have him to thank for getting me this game (thanks bro)!

Screenshot of Hydrals from The Last Federation
You play the role of a Hydral in The Last Federation

What I like:

Interesting lore

The game has some interesting lore, that's for sure, and you play the role of a space dragon or Hydral that is the last of their species. While all the races of the galaxy tend to be mistrustful of your motives, your goal is to bring unity to the galaxy through the formation of a galactic federation of races.

Steam Achievements and Trading Cards

The game has a whopping 79 Steam Achievements to earn and 8 Trading Cards to collect.

Screenshot of combat screen in The Last Federation
Combat can get quite chaotic

What I dislike:

Steep learning curve

Despite finishing the game after three hours on the easiest difficulty setting, it took me a long time to figure out what the hell was going on, even with the tutorial hints. I still don't exactly know how the game works but I somehow managed to fumble my way through.

It is and isn't a 4X

While the game does seem like a 4X game such as Master of Orion to the casual observer, it's actually quite a bit different since you're only truly responsible for your character's decisions and despite you having quite a powerful ship, you're not going to be able to forge an empire on your own. It seems that you have to meddle in the politics of all sentient races to either convince them all to unite as a Federation or at least wipe out any empires that decide to oppose it. So, the game actually has elements of an RPG as well as a MOBA to a degree (since just like in MOBAs, you control a hero unit that doesn't really have direct control over the mobs. You can only influence the campaign but not directly control all forces).

Walls of text

A lot of the game is explained with walls of text, not to mention a barrage of notifications, and I never quite understood what I was doing during combat sequences. While I tried my best to read up on what was going on, after a while many of the notifications are redundant although the ones you do want to look out for can often be drowned underneath the unimportant fluff. So if you're unprepared to do a lot of reading while playing this game and planning to just gloss over some of the game's concepts, prepare to be disappointed.


As mentioned, I never quite got the hang of combat which made the experience rather dull since I was just moving the ship around the map and pressing on buttons randomly every so often. The game's strategic layer isn't that much better as you'll find yourself travelling between planets, then fast forwarding time as you grind influence points and credits in order to enact your plans across the galaxy. It's not a very exciting gameplay loop if you ask me.

Score – 6/10 (Okay)

If you're looking for an indie sci-fi grand strategy title with turn-based tactical combat and interesting lore, The Last Federation seems to achieve this but if you're a fan of 4X titles like Master of Orion and was hoping to have more control over how you take over the galaxy without any grind or a steep learning curve, you'll be disappointed.

Is the game worth $28.95 AUD?: No. If you're into this kind of gameplay it does have quite a bit of replay value so maybe if it's on sale if would be worth a try, otherwise I wouldn't pay almost $30 for this when some aspects of the gameplay could be better served by cheaper games like Running with Rifles or Windward (but note these are obviously better experiences as multiplayer games)

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[ LINK: The Last Federation Official Website ]