By Jerrad Wyche
Have you ever wondered what conducting a train during an apocalypse would be like? Then enter the world of The Final Station. You start the game as a jolly train conductor trying to get through another day on the job. Suddenly you’re thrust into a world of danger and intrigue all while trying to figure out what the hell is going on. You explore a variety of cities and towns ranging from eerily quaint utopias sprawling with interesting side stories to distraught and rundown suburbs with disturbing tales of fear and survival. Learning what led to the arrival of such a horrific event is as satisfying as reading mundane relatable events of victims before their unknowing demise. It all leads up to the eventual finish line, the final station.
The game begins as you suit up for another day of train conducting. It’s been roughly 106 years since the first visitation. An event in which strange capsules crash landed onto Earth. This caused anyone within range of the capsules to be exposed to toxic fumes. These fumes resulted in many casualties that would eventually become zombies. These events led to the governments of the world working together to create the guardian program. A program built to fund the construction of an armored bipedal unit charged with the sole task of protecting humanity from the inevitable second invasion. Soon after the beginning of the game players are faced with witnessing the immediate ramifications of the second invasion. Players must use in-game text, context clues, dialog, and the environment itself to piece together what is really happening to this world. The Final Station offers enough subtle intrigue to keep the player focused on piecing together the story before culminating in a brilliant yet dark conclusion.
The game is composed of two gameplay elements. The first features players navigating 2-D cities and suburbs with a focus on exploration and inventory management. Once a city has been explored and the train code required to progress to the next section of the game has been found, players then enter the secondary phase of the game. Now the player takes command of his own cargo train. You have two core responsibilities while on the train which include managing your passenger’s vitals, as well as keeping the trains systems and balances in a sustainable condition. Each passenger will come with their own set of health concerns, thus forcing the player to keep close attention to each and every newcomer. If you’re able to successfully transport multiple passengers you’re rewarded with currency you can use to upgrade your guns and inventory. This back and forth relationship allows the game to keep a reasonable pace for the player. Mixing in different responsibilities and locations keeps the player on their toes and never allows complacency to seep in.
Experiences that mix genres can sometimes be jarring and distort the gameplay in a very forced and uncomfortable manner. The Final Station is definitely an exception to that worrisome inclination. Managing your ammunition while traversing darkened hallways and apartment complexes sets the stage for this haunting and somber experience. Its atmosphere is disturbingly charming, while its world-building is uniquely claustrophobic. If you’re looking for an experience that settles you into an interesting world full of intrigue and mystery, it’s time to dock your train into The Final Station.
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