Written by: Thomas King from UpDownUpDown.net
Train conductors don’t normally have extraordinary lives; they take others back and forth between their destinations. By no means is this life exciting. Now imagine yourself being a conductor with the last working train on the planet. You would expect this train to be slammed with people right? Now take that thought and add monsters to it. A technological world has been thrust into the middle of an existential crisis; cities and towns are crumbling and falling by the minute and you are there transporting people and military assets from city to city. The Final Station is a 2D survival-horror game available on Steam that puts you to task on transporting secret military weapons to where they need to go, all while collecting blocker codes which are needed to proceed to the next station.
The 8-bit style graphics really put the environment into perspective; a dark monster ridden world perfectly complimented by it’s equally morose and gothic style colors. Most of this game is dark and grey, but there are some bright spots showing beautiful sunsets, boats, and lighthouses. More than anything this foreshadowed what type of feel this game was going to take on. Anytime you are surrounded by darkness there is always a glimmer of hope, beauty to be found in an ugly world or situation…the silver lining. This game will never give you a sense of beauty though. You will never feel as if your computer is being pushed to its absolute limits and that is because they would rather have you focus on the game play, feel, and story.
This looks and feels like a much older game, something that harkens back to the golden age of the NES. In reality, this sometimes acts as a shooter, sometimes as a platformer, and, when it feels like it, a puzzle game. The mechanics are very simple, aim and shoot-something made virtually impossible without a mouse. Don’t even attempt using a controller for this one; the reticle is made for a mouse and won’t feel natural unless you use one. Instead of firing my gun for most of the game I conserved ammo by using the melee, which can either be charged up or with rapid single uses. This game doesn’t have awe inspiring gameplay, but it is solid nonetheless. Couple the solid mechanics with the varying number of enemies you encounter, zombie like walkers, chucky the doll type speedsters that mount you, even enemies that explode within a certain range, there is no doubt that FS (The Final Station) has a variety of encounters that will make you think. This aspect becomes the strongest part of FS gameplay, throwing a combination of monsters at you and trying to make you understand how to best approach them, sometimes even overwhelming you with the intent of you ignoring them…as hard as that may sound. During my playthrough, I discovered that ammo was very scarce and I needed some other way to fend off these fiends without finishing levels having an empty clip. Luckily boxes, chairs, and toilets came in handy (no I was not cowering and shitting myself on the toliets…). As much as this sounds like a WWE hardcore match, almost anything at your disposal could be utilized; pushing boxes over edges, ripping toilets from the ground and smashing in a monsters face. This game heavily leaned on the SURVIVAL of survival-horror, and that is an aspect where this game disappointed. Horror was not to be found. Sure there were tense moments, but nothing outright instilled fear into me during my playthrough. The major difference between this game and most other survival-horror games is the fact that you actually care for the individuals you save, when you rescue someone in a level they take a ride on your train. Now once you have obtained those blocker codes to head to the next town you are brought to a mini-game aboard your train, you must make sure the train doesn’t stop by checking all of its systems, even going so far as to make you feed and bandage the survivors. Don’t worry though you get a reward for all this…even if it is something useless towards the later stages of the game…
The Final Station was full of interactions with city-folk and passengers on the train. The running main story line however was, get X to the military in a city…then rinse and repeat until you can finally build a massive robot to protect you? Yea…it left me being confused as well. You see at no point was there an explanation of what the heck was happening in this game. People were transforming into monsters and some people had a theory that it was the second coming of them. Who were they? No matter how many people I talked to or conversations I eavesdropped on there was no information so I left it alone. The one aspect that could have possibly shed light on the situation was the exchanges each train passenger had from town to town, but unfortunately you had to make sure people stayed alive and the train kept running-so most of that was impossible to piece together. One I continued to notice was the fact that my character, whenever he reached a major city, he would attempt to make phone calls and I would think nothing of it. Come to find out that was the small detail I kept putting off, these phone calls were the hidden main story of this game and let me tell you…it blew me away. I don’t want to bombard this review with spoilers but the ending is the most satisfaction filled part of this game and makes those final five minutes make the entire playthrough worth it. At no point during my playthrough was I emotionally attached to the characters or the story, but the ending was so emotionally devastating and out of left field that it made me love this game. It wasn’t an ending that totally destroyed the game either; it wrapped up your journey in a way I deemed how it should have ended.
All in all The Final Station is a very good game, it’s easy to grasp gameplay and survivalist level hoping keep you involved an wanting to find out where this will lead. The story up until the final moments is a glaring issue within the game, at no point is there any explanation of what is really happening and this game seems to be almost incomplete. But what disappointed even more than the story is the upgrade and reward systems. I didn’t mention this earlier because it is pointless- you can throw all the money in the world at your guns but in the final few stages they will be replaced by a rifle that is not upgradable and does not allow you to switch back. Its saving grace is the emotional ending which story was just enough in plain sight to see but hidden by your missions throughout.
This game gets a 3/5 with glaring issues that plague the experience it is undeserving of a higher score. If some of these were to not have been rushed this would have easily been a much higher score.
Final Score: 3/5