They’re fast, some of them so fast they can outrun you. Completely midnight black bodies with beady white, empty eyes—unstoppable killing machines, chasing you down. Before you can even fire your gun, they’re all over you. You’re dead. Again. Welcome to The Final Station.
According to the website game description, “The world is over. But it’s not quite over for you… at least, not yet. And now that you’ve got thousands of tons of locomotive at your disposal, ready to take you as far down the tracks as you have fuel to feed it, you’ve got the definite advantage over the infected hordes. This is The Final Station. The real question is whether or not you’ll bring survivors on-board with you, or leave them out there to fend for themselves. Sometimes people can be more trouble than they’re worth…”
It’s 106 years after the “first visitation,” where these creatures that are human puddles of goo, first appeared. And now, the second visitation has begun. You are the conductor on the train that feels like it will more than likely be a one-way trip, picking up survivors of the apocalypse, and dropping them off at the next safe stop, until the horrors arrive there, too.
The controls are easy enough. Like other games I’ve played where the ability to heal your character on the controller is one of the main options, I wasted a lot of health trying to reload my gun by accident. It’s a shooter with some slight RPG elements. The conductor follows your controls easily with no lag. Despite this, enemies are quick and very deadly. You will die, and you will die many times. But it will not put you too far back, and each level is so short that it’s never a huge burden. More than anything, the game is brutal but incredibly fun.
The gameplay is responsive, simple, and fun. With the chance to do basic crafting, it’s nice as well. The two gameplay styles are when you are on the train, and off, exploring the rapidly decomposing world around you.
On the train you’re playing a bit of what could be compared to an evil Tamagotchi, you’ll be solving small but simple problems on your experimental train, and constantly making sure your passengers are properly healed and properly fed. And should you forget to feed someone, their health quickly deteriorates.
The benefits of letting some people die vs. keeping them alive are not always easy choices. Do I keep this person alive that has a moderate reward? Or do I, instead, keep the health for my own benefit whenever I have to fight visitors off the train? Is the financial reward worth it?
I try to keep everyone alive. That’s just the way I play games like this. I get emotionally attached to in-game characters and NPCs, and I just don’t want to let them die. I’m on my second play-through, and what I’ve come to realize is that no matter what I do, someone’s going to die. And some of them are just sickly resource hogs, and it really is in your best interest not to waste resources.
But the more people who are alive, the more conversations you can listen in on, and the more you learn about what’s going on in the world around you.
Once off the train, your conductor will move through various broken factories, homes, labs, and apartments, as you search for survivors. It’s simple and incredibly linear. You find a path and that’s the path you will follow. You’ll have a couple of weapons including a shotgun and a handgun, but you’ll have to be careful, as you can go through a lot of bullets quickly and be at the mercy of the visitors before you know it. More than shooting, you’ll spend a lot of the game punching creatures, dancing forwards and backward, hitting while trying to avoid being hit.
The graphics are simple in that pseudo-8-bit pixel block style of a very high-end old Super Nintendo game, but with some much more impressive backgrounds. The colors are mostly black and gray. But with bright little touches like the blocky colors of dead bodies, a red, blood-filled pit people are thrown into, and strange giant capsules, it’s interesting. And more than anything, the graphics get the job done. The Final Station has a very clear sense of graphics style.
While what little music used in the game is good, carrying a morose feeling of futility behind it, the reason you will play this game is the excellent story. It’s a story that’s not really provided through a cutscene so much as when you ride the train, you’ll listen in on various passenger’s conversations, the last text messages on computers, and your own conversations with the small cast of characters on the outside of the train that still remain alive. You’ll piece together the notes of the dead as well, experiencing what is a surprisingly well-told story for such a seemingly simple game.
It’s a game about the fragility of humanity—not only of individual lives but of society as a whole. There are brief discussions of the selfishness and corruption of business people and politicians. Playing this game you’re left to wonder if the visitation is some sort of cosmic, karmic judgment of humanity’s ignorance, cruelty, and greed.
It’s violent, beautiful, and well-scored. Pick it up on Steam, or various other systems, and it’s recently arrived on the Nintendo Switch. It’s short, poignant and fun. I love this game and I think you will, as well.
Final Score: 9/10
Gripping story told through notes and conversations you piece together.
Simple but fun level design.
Strong sense of style.
The epitome of what makes a good indie game.
Very limited level design.