There’s nothing like a quiet train ride to make for a good game, but you know what would make it better? A train ride through a world facing an apocalypse, where players must fight their way through each train station, doing what they must to survive. Well, developer Do My Best had the same idea and brought out their new Xbox One game, The Final Station. A new ID@Xbox title that takes 8bit style graphics and combines them with fighting to survive; but how does this combination work?
The Final Station: PC, Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4
Developer: Do My Best
Release Date: 2 September 2016
Price: £11.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
In The Final Station, you take on the role of a train driver, who has been enjoying his holiday but is now due to return to work. The day you return to work is the “106th year since the visitation“, and whilst you aren’t told what this means exactly, it becomes clearer as you play through the story. Your job throughout the story is to man the train, transporting cargo between stations while collecting survivors along the way if possible. These survivors have been stranded at rundown stations, overrun by mysterious black goo zombie-like creatures, and you must kill these zombies, save the survivors, grab the code for the train blockers and make it back to your train without dying.
The blocker code could be anywhere within the station, and it is up to the player to trawl the various levels of houses and underground passages in order to find it. Each of the station stops will have a different layout, but the gameplay does start to become a little repetitive after a while. As you go from room to room in the stations, you’ll be met with monsters, containers and various items that you can also use to ward off enemies. Each room is blacked out, and so you won’t see what’s behind the door until you actually open it. While this can be a mixture of fun, tense and exciting gameplay, you shouldn’t be too surprised if you get continuously overrun by enemies storming out of the rooms.
In order to fight off these enemies, you have a choice of weapon. You’ll be given a pistol early on, and unlock weapons such as rifles and shotguns later on. Ammo is in short supply, so you’ll be wanting to keep your eye out for ammo pickups at the various stations, as well as being able to craft bullets on the train as you go between the stations. Having to preserve ammo can get very annoying, especially when you are overrun with enemies and have nothing to fight them off with. In an emergency, you can use your fists. Using your fists does a lot less damage but is a useful form of attack when you have nothing else at hand, although you might happen to find a chair or a toilet that you can use to throw at enemies which also deal some damage.
When you aren’t fighting your way through the masses at each station, you’ll be on your train with your fellow survivors, travelling from point A to point B. You have a few jobs to take care of while you are on the train, this provides a nice break from fighting off the enemies. Players will need to keep track of survivors and keep them topped up with medkits and food in order to keep them alive. These items will be found in the stations, but there won’t be enough for everyone and you, so you’ll need to make the right decisions, juggling items to make sure that everyone survives, including you. Trying to find the right balance to keep everyone alive is a tough challenge, but one that makes the game more exciting, especially when your survivors give you rewards providing they survive of course.
Once your survivors are all fed and patched up, your next focus is to make sure the train is up to scratch. Depending on your cargo, there will be different systems you need to take care of. These can range from being as simple as hammering the A button in order to pull down a lever, or spinning a switch and pressing A in order to cool something down. These menial tasks fill out the time whilst travelling between the stations, and offer players the chance to listen to the strange and curious conversations between the survivors at the same time. It also brings another break from the combat action while the conversations help explain the story and background to further flesh the game out.
Unfortunately, The Last Station is not without its problems. At the start, the game throws you right into the thick of the action, without so much as a tutorial to guide players. You are left to figure out how to shoot a gun, punch your fists and interact with items. Some kind of explanation as to how the game works would have been helpful, but instead the game leaves you on your own to figure out how it all works. The largest problem with the game, as strange as it might sound, is the opening menu. The faded grey colour on the black background means that is unclear which option your cursor is on. The problem with this is that it caused me to accidentally delete my game save at one point, and nearly do it again a few other times. This is a minor issue which could lead to a very big problem and is something that could have been so easily changed.
The overall look of The Final Station may be a little off-putting to some, with dark and dreary colours in dull settings and an 8bit graphic style. While this style may feel a little dated it doesn’t take away anything from the game. The drab setting fits the apocalypse aesthetic perfectly while the negative colours reflect the darkness of the world you are playing in. To accompany this, the game has very little music or sounds throughout apart from the odd gunshot or door being burst open. The background music is few and far between within the levels, but when it does show up, it’s creepy and off-putting, which again ties in perfectly with the look and feel of The Last Station.
While The Final Station may not have the looks to draw people in straight away, those that do sit down and play will be rewarded with an interesting story and a perfectly eerie setting. Train driving your way through an apocalypse may be a new and different idea, but overcoming the enemies, fighting your way through stations, collecting supplies and trying to keep everyone alive is combinational gameplay that seems to work. There may be some problems with repetitive gameplay, the look of the main menu and the slightly dated 8bit graphics, but overall The Final Station is a solid ID@Xbox game. It might not take you on the ride of your life, but you’ll definitely enjoy the stops along the way.
The Final Station
- Interesting take on the apocalypse story
- Nice balance between fighting, keeping survivors alive and tending to train needs
- Dark and dull setting is perfect for the game's eerie theme
- Menu colours are so dark you can delete save game by accident very easily
- Look of the game could have been brought more up to date
- Gameplay can start to become repetitive after a while