If you look at a lot of the post-apocalyptic horror games and movies these days, you'll find that they are all pretty static. Many of them tend to take place in one location where survivors are seeking to survive. Very few of them go on a journey, but there are exceptions to the rule. The Final Station is one such example of a story that's going places, quite literally in fact.
In the Final Station, you are a train conductor with very important cargo on your locomotive. Your goal is to make your way across a post-apocalyptic landscape and save as many people as you can from zombie-like enemies. Does this indie horror road trip take the scenic route, or did this train derail? Time to find out!
A Story That's Told Only When You're Listening
The Final Station takes place just before the apocalypse begins. When you start out things are business as usual, but it quickly becomes clear things aren't going well. The story in the game is told, not through cutscenes, but through dialogue and discovery.
That means that it's incredibly important to not only talk to people you come across, but also to read the scraps of paper you find on walls and on desks. When you're actually in your train, survivors that you've rescued will talk amongst themselves.
You can eavesdrop on these conversations to learn more about the story, but the game drags you away to fetch them food and medkits, at which point you miss out on what they were saying. On top of this, stopping to fix parts of the train that malfunction can drag you away from the story.
If your survivors perish as a result of lacking supplies, you won't hear what they have to say either. It's a system that makes sense from a realism standpoint, but when the game forces you to abandon a conversation for the sake of fixing something, it's frustrating to know you're missing out on a potential story moment.
Overall, though, The Final Station does an incredible job of slowly building its world. It starts with a lot of questions and answers them in a perfect rhythm of revelations. It's a unique take on a post-apocalyptic world and a story well worth your time. Just make sure you're listening and looking for it.
Tension on The Train Tracks
The gameplay in The Final Station is a side-scrolling affair that takes you through a variety of locations as you scavenge and search for survivors. The game's story dictates that your train must stop at locations called "blockers" that essentially lock your train in place.
The only way to leave and continue your journey is to go out on foot and find the official in charge of producing a "blocker code" that you can use to disable the security. This starts out easy enough but as things change and the apocalypse progresses, you'll find it more difficult to locate these important codes for a variety of reasons.
Buildings and even rooms remain blacked out until you enter them. They could be empty, or they could be full of enemies ready to rush at you. The tension and the fear as you explore these locations is incredible. The rush of panic you feel when you see a room full of enemies is something that really gets the heart pumping.
You have several guns and a melee attack to defend yourself with. Melee is powerful enough to help in a bind or when you need to save ammunition. The game isn't easy, but thankfully dying doesn't put you back too far from where you left off. The challenge is just right.
My only real complaint with the gameplay is the way menus work. Whether you're crafting items on your train or even just selecting "continue game" from the menu, it's never quite clear what you're selecting. Your selected button or cursor isn't defined by a distinct color or symbol. This can lead to accidently selecting "new game" which I did more than once, or closing a menu when you're trying to craft something.
Without the option to use the d-pad in the menus or in the game, there's a little frustration that can result from having to solely use analog sticks. This was really my only qualm with the game, though, everything else works really well.
Pixel Art in Its Purest Form
The Final Station uses a pixel art style that has become synonymous with indie games. As with many others, it works well here, especially given the scope of the game and the budget it would have needed for a more photorealistic style. The backgrounds and landscapes are great looking and the animations for the enemies are excellent.
Overall, The Final Station is a unique and interesting take on the post-apocalyptic horror genre. If you're looking for a new game to give you some challenge and pershaps turn your knuckles white as you grip the controller, this one is a great option.
Final Score: 8.0/10
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 9/5/16