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The Final Station Review

Now I know what you’re thinking. A post-apocalyptic game with zombies? Has to be pretty generic, right?

Something like The Final Station would have to do something pretty spectacular to stand out from this shambling crowd. It would need intricate and intense gameplay, new and unique ideas and even a surprisingly captivating story to even think of doing so.

In a near-end-of-the-world scenario, being a train driver would be pretty useful. Being able to quickly traverse the world, finding broken-down villages to scavenge for supplies and encounter pockets of civilisation. Maybe you could even find other surviviors and travel with them, helping them go where they needed to go. This is the setting of The Final Station. 

The Final Station takes place 106 years after “The First Visitation”. You’re not clued in immediately as to what exactly this visitation exactly was; in fact, you’re not clued in on much – to the story’s benefit. The world of The Final Station feels sombre and dark. You will quickly discover there is more than meets the eye; look beneath the surface – quite literally – and you will find something ominous. There are pockets of dystopian undertones here but there is also hope; The Final Station is about fighting – and surviving – against something you’re not exactly sure what it is.

And you’re not quite sure because the story is drip-fed to you. There are few people to directly talk to; knowledge of the story is gained through notes and messages. Much can be gained too from paying attention to the enviroment; while the pixel-art graphics aren’t top of the line (though there are some beautiful scenes here and there), there are always hidden details – especially in the backgrounds – to those keeping a watchful eye. It would not be disingenuous to say there is a touch of Dark Souls here, in more ways than one. I could write multiple essays on the amount of lore and story told indirectly through Dark Souls’ world design, yet many people will play through the games not having any idea of what just happened. Similarly, the story in The Final Station is never the forefront but those who pay attention to it will find something great.

The Final Station 2

The game itself takes place in two parts: travelling by train and exploring for supplies at stations and outposts. The train is the most unique idea here, it is needed to transport yourself, your passengers and all your supplies to wherever you might be headed. Journeys are hectic and require an almost FTLlike level of micromanagement. The train itself needs to kept operational by multiple systems, which you must rush over to check, and complete a small minigame if it’s taking up too much voltage. You must also spend your time crafting any ammo and supplies you may need for you and those you are escorting. Passengers must be kept healthy and fed with medkits and food you collect while out exploring. More passengers means more supplies and rarely do you have enough for everyone.

It’s frantic enough just trying to keep the train running, your passengers alive and crafting supplies on its own but The Final Station requires even more from you. Remember that story I mentioned earlier? How you must be paying continuous attention? Well, while you are rushing around everyone on the train is having their own conversations, and your friends and other train operators send you messages and updates. The train is micromanagement hell – or heaven – but it is also a balancing act that creates an incredibly tense and compelling experience.

You will however spend most of your time in The Final Station exploring and fighting off “zombies”. I use quotations because they aren’t exactly zombies but it’s the easiest way of explaining them – so we’ll call them zombies. Exploring, like managing your train, is tense. Combat requires strategy as ammo is limited, melee dangerous and zombies plentiful. Every encounter should be planned and require tactics. The basic zombies can be melee’d but takes time and can be risky if more than one. More advanced enemies require a mix of tactics; you need to melee the helmet off armoured zombies before shooting them in the head, fast and exploding zombies must be killed before getting too close.

As my mother always said, planning is the key to success – but it’s never that easy. Sure, sometimes you might see the room ahead and be able to plan exactly how to deal with it. Most of the time though, you must think and react quickly. You can’t see behind doors you haven’t opened (surprisingly) so whatever lies beyond, if it tries to kill you, must be dealt with on the spot. With how rare supplies are and how easy it is to die – you can only craft ammo from what you find and you share limited medkits with your passengers – even the simple act of opening a door becomes a terrifying experience.

The Final Station 3

Do My Best Games’ first foray into game development is a fantastic one. They really have “done their best” and created something wholly unique, tense and with more going on than first meets the eye. At its foundation, The Final Station may just be a very solid 2D action-adventure game but it is done so well, creating an almost survival horror-like experience, that it deserves genuine applause. And if you pay enough attention to the world and its abstruse detail, you may stay for the strong gameplay – but it’ll be the enthralling story that stays with you long after you depart The Final Station.

The Final Station is available on PC and Xbox One. We reviewed the PC version.
Ruaraidh - pronounced Roo-Ree - is a Scottish gamer with the name and games to prove it. He enjoys mostly everything, unless it involves exercise, and much prefers to run around inside a good, open-world RPG, being chased across the lands by a horde of monsters after his sweet loot. When he has made his escape, he will often return to the real world to continue playing anything with a good story - indie or otherwise.