How would it feel to head to work on a seemingly ordinary day only to find yourself caught up in a desperate fight to keep yourself and others alive as you travel through once familiar landscape now turned into a literal war zone? This is what the protagonist must face in The Final Station
. The title is the latest addition to the retro pixelated movement so popular this generation. It’s also the debut title of new developer Do My Best. So, how did they do?
The Final Station
In The Final Station
, you run a train. The day starts out like any other. The alarm goes off, you stumble to the bathroom, get ready, and head off to work in a seemingly normal environment. But if you’re paying attention by reading posters, notes, etc. along the way, as well as just taking in your surroundings, you’ll soon realize that today is slightly askew from normal. You’ll notice references to “The Visitation” that occurred 106 years ago, a mysterious event that affects life to this day. You’ll see reminders for Visitation training, ads looking for people to work on Guardians, and it doesn’t take long to realize just how much construction exists underground, giving one the distinctly uneasy feeling that the world is full of shelters, but shelters from what? This sense of grimness is accentuated very well by the game’s style. Despite the apparent simplicity of the pixelated art, the whole world is dark, a darkness that contrasts jarringly with the beautiful blue sky and singing birds in the background. It’s plain from the very beginning that all is not right with the world. The mystery surrounding “The Visitation” is slowly revealed as the story progresses, clues gleaned from conversations and notes that you find along the way.
It gets really dark really fast.
Your mission in the game is simple: you must travel from Point A to Point B, keeping all of your passengers alive as you do so. This seems straightforward enough, considering the game is a side-scroller, but it’s easier said than done. The basic mechanic of the game is the same all the way through. On the train, you dispense food and medicine as needed to keep your passengers alive in addition to making adjustments to the train and the train’s atmosphere. At each stop, you will search every nook and cranny for money, food, and survivors. Occasionally, you will find shops. As you proceed, you’ll learn from television updates and rumors that “The Visitation” has returned, and the landscape through which you travel quickly becomes nightmarish, the terrain populated by everything from bloody bodies to destroyed tanks and skies as black as pitch. You also start seeing creatures that used to be people. They look like shadows – shadows with deadly intent. You must fight these things off as you search for the supplies to keep your passengers alive. You can punch, shoot, or throw things at them. Ammunition is a precious commodity, so you can’t just blast your way through. You’ve got to think it over, and, thankfully, running out of bullets doesn’t leave you completely helpless since punching can work really well against many enemies. Each stop also requires that you find the code that unlocks the train from the platform so that the journey can continue.
The game’s controls work fine – left and right, up and down, shoot, punch, etc. - and it’s helpful that any item you can interact with will light up when you’re near it. Yet, it isn’t all smooth sailing. One big gripe one might have with the game is the total lack of instruction. On the train, you must keep up not only with food and med kits, but also with the ventilation, the power breakers, and the cargo. On top of this, you have a crafting station on board. Nowhere in the game are you told how these things work. You just have to figure it out, hopefully before you lose a passenger. This oversight carries over into the shops, too. At one place, three items are for sale – ammunition and two others that have no identification at all. I bought one of the items, and it turned out to be a laser for the gun, which is a very useful tool, but it would have been very nice beforehand to know what it was. Since I didn’t have enough funds to buy both unidentified items, I still don’t know what I missed.
Figure it out.
The achievements list for the game is nicely even-handed. Most of them can be picked up just by playing the game, but others can still present a challenge. Most of the achievements require that you get a certain number of passengers to the next stop. This is easy early on, but later in the game, it can prove difficult because of a shortage of food or medicine, so it might take several tries. There’s also a collectible and a few that require killing something a certain way. Overall, it’s a fair list though a bit short with only ten achievements.
SummaryThe Final Station
is a pixelated side-scroller that requires players to carefully tend their resources as they attempt to save as many people as possible from “The Visitation” – a mysterious event that slowly reveals itself as one struggles through an ever-darkening landscape. With just your train and some meager supplies, you have to find a way to survive. The game is straightforward and fun except for the frustrating lack of instructions on how things work.
- Interesting story
- Art style suits the game
- Simple yet fun A to B premise
- Needs instructions/tutorials
The reviewer spent approximately five hours hunting for supplies and killing enemies, netting 7 of the game's 10 achievements. A digital code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.