With pop culture being flooded with the concept of surviving a zombie-like horde, it’s kind of hard for new zombie-themed creations to stand out. The Final Station, developed by Do My Best, does stand out, though, and does it without having a ton of flash and flare. This is a more thoughtful take on the zombie apocalypse, though so if you go into The Final Station with the expectation of having tons of weapons and mowing down zombies, you’ll be pretty disappointed. However, go into it with an open mind and you will get to enjoy the world it creates – even if it is coming to an end.
The Final Station takes place in a world that is governed primarily by law enforcement and medical personal. An event referred to only as an ‘invasion’ has destroyed most of the world’s evolutionary progress and there are rumours spreading of another attack on its way. The game’s main protagonist is a simple train conductor trying to deliver crucial parts to a machine known as the “guardian” which could turn the tide for humanity. As you take your old dilapidated train, which you must maintain throughout your journey, you find and uncover the secrets of the world The Final Station creates, as humanity tries to survive.
There are what feels like two games you must play in The Final Station. There are the towns your train pulls into where you must search buildings for supplies and, most importantly, the code to leave the station and go on to the next. The other game is on board the train. While traveling between towns, you will be forced to adjust settings and pull levers to ensure your train doesn’t fall apart, as well as care for the survivors and passengers on board.
When dropped off in the towns of The Final Station, you get a feel for what the world has become without recourse to expositionary narrative. Do My Best does a great job at keeping visuals simple but informative in each town. As well as a deep and detailed world, Do My Best has used clever tricks to offer a surprisingly good exploration mechanic. Each time you approach a door, you can’t see what is on the other side until you open it. This isn’t something you’d expect for a 2D side scrolling game. Open a door and you might find a horde rushing at you immediately, or maybe just a note with some more information of what has happened – or what’s to come.
There’s humour in this beautifully dark game, too: a note imploring “Stop stealing spoons” is outside a door which, when unlocked, leads to a corpse whose pockets were stuffed with spoons. Ultimately, our un-named spoon stealer becomes just another repository through which we must rummage for supplies – running low on vital resources is a sure-fire way to die in this desolate world. The different kinds of enemies you face, and the shortage of supplies, causes you to strategize on when to use your gun, your fists, or maybe make use of an environmental hazard to progress
Levels feel short, but with the tension building as you explore further an further from the relative safety of your train, and upping further every time you come across a closed door, The Final Station is a satisfying and gripping experience.
Your trusty train is your haven and the biggest drain on your resources. You’ll see parts of the train start to spark, letting you know what’s about to break and in need of repair. with each repair feeling like it’s own little mini-game.
Whilst aboard the train you can craft food, medkits, ammo, or even weapon upgrades. Passengers on board that you rescue also need tender love and care to keep them alive. Each is identified by name and occupation, and you’ll need to monitor their hunger and health levels – give them medkits and food to keep them alive to the next stop. This is a fun and sometimes chaotic experience.
Passengers also hold conversations on board the train, affording you a window into their lives and the events unfolding in the apocalypse. As interested in the story as we were, it was very hard to pay attention to the details whilst rushing around to care for our charges, and the train. Whilst it’s a nice touch that the story isn’t doled out in great chunks, we do wish there was a way to reflect on the passengers’ stories at leisure, perhaps in the form of a journal that recorded their tales.
Pixel art can be beautiful when done well, and awful when it goes wrong, but here The Final Station benefits hugely from the style. the visuals help create a simple and glum world that’s fun to exist in, and really looks like a society on the edge of collapse. The monochrome mood is offset by splashes of colour as great accents to characters and important items. Unfortunately, this care and attention is missing when you’re in the menus, with poor colour choices making it difficult to identify which of the available options is the currently highlighted one.
The game’s soundtrack is a great blend of electronica style beats and some bursts of rock. With the tense emotions and feelings of impending doom, the sound design successfully underpins the story and adds to the atmosphere of exploring, and surviving in, a post apocalyptic society.
Do My Best have certainly done their best with The Final Station. Fun gameplay, emotional responses, and excellent storytelling. Although this is a shorter experience, it is definitely one worth checking out. If you go in to The Final Station with an open mind it really will surprise you with what it can offer.
The Final Station is available to download from the Store, priced £11.99.
Have you played The Final Station? What are your feelings on it? Let us know in the comments!
Being A Train Conductor Has Never Been So Awesome
The Final Station pulls so many emotional strings by employing a bunch of simple and fun concepts. Enemies jumping through doorways offer all the excitement you’ll ever need, while notes and items build the story of a world you genuinely care about. The few minor niggles don’t detract from the experience too much and The Final Station accomplishes just what every game should – creating an enjoyable, memorable experience.