On paper, The Final Station may look like your average challenging survival game, but solely thinking that would be a misconception. There’s so much more than meets the eye in this game as drastic events unfold before you.
Suspenseful, quirky and at times horrific, The Final Station is a game that will keep you guessing through and through. In this 2D side-scroller, you’re tasked with the survival of frantic passengers and general maintenance of your train. You’ll fulfil your post as a meagre train conductor amongst a perilous, action packed world. Developed by Do My Best Games, The Final Station is an all encompassing thriller as you scavenge your way through desolate cities and towns, hoping that where your train stops next holds salvation.
The Final Station begins ominously as your protagonist wakes from his sleep and rushes to his day job. As you leave your scanty dwelling, you’ll notice that the world around you looks serene and untouched, however, you still get the sense of dystopia as you stumble upon little snippets of notes and messages that glimpse the current state of the world.
Like waiting for the ball to drop, the game finally (and literally) gets things rolling once you start your shift as a train conductor. A simple job gameplay wise, you’ll find yourself fiddling with various mechanisms on board your rickety old train as well as checking on passengers’ needs. Passengers will also chatter to one another frantically about the given turn of events, helping you fill in the gaps of what exactly may be going on. Once you arrive at each station, bureaucratic pieces of paper referred to as ‘Blocker Codes’ are issued out. You can only access your train once these codes are typed in via a keypad.
Sooner rather than later you’ll realise that things have gone expectantly awry when a viral infection turns most civilians into ghastly, hostile monsters, becoming volatile threats to you and the now crumbling world around you. In turn, you’ll be tasked with delivering some precious and classified cargo to its destinations. By following your directive, the challenging aspect of The Final Station starts to unfold as you get off at each station to retrieve blocker codes and supplies in order to progress.
You only ever find limited amounts of ammo and med kits so mindlessly firing your gun at enemies is obviously unwise, instead, the game is constantly getting you to think about the environment and to interact with throwable objects that could help you overcome challenging odds. You’ll also find distressed survivors in need of help as you offer your services and tell them to get on board your train. Some stress and micro-management will start to arise if you don’t have enough food or med kits to supply for a passenger in need, ultimately condemning them to their death. Keeping passengers alive and well are always worth it since you reap rewards in the form of money, ammo and weapon upgrades. These instances also take up only little segments of the game as the real culmination occurs when the train stops at each station.
Each stop becomes harrowing as you explore abandoned houses and buildings, not knowing what lurks behind each door. Bloody pixelated bodies often litter the scene, warning you of the danger all around you. It’s surprising how suspenseful The Final Station is, like any great thriller with suspenseful moments and eerie subtleties. Levels are filled with hidden items for you to collect but these don’t come without a cost. Rooms are blacked out letting you only see inside once you’ve entered its chambers. More often than not you’ll open a door only to have enemies swarm you to death. The game seems to checkpoint your progress, so constantly dying never really feels like a consequence.
The Final Station is also incredibly scenic with beautifully depicted environments which surprisingly brings to life to an otherwise flat 2D world. This is most noticeable when you’re on the train itself as you pass lush forests, towering cities and unruffled seascapes. These encapsulating views are all nicely accompanied by layers of sombre tones that heavily shape the atmosphere of this game.
Since The Final Station is an overly narrative driven experience, it falls a bit too short where the ending is concerned. Apart from that, the game still provides you with a thoroughly immersive surrounding, packaged nicely within the five to six hours it takes to finish. The Final Station manages to tick all the right boxes when it comes to gratifying gameplay, an intriguing story, and finely detailed environments deeming it a much recommended affair.
Sunita Osborne is a freelance journalist and contributor to PN2. You can find her on Twitter @SunitaOsborne