The Final Station is a side-scrolling survival horror game with a dash of post-apocalyptic train management. The game is set years after an alien race first visits your planet at the beginning of a beautiful day. By lunchtime, the world will be destroyed. The game is a valiant attempt at blending a few different gaming themes together, but do they blend well, or are the genres being mashed together for the sake of mashing?
As it seems to be with most smaller games released these days, this game is has a 2D pixelated art style. This is definitely the art style de jour, but unlike most I see, this one is easy on the eyes and has pleasingly fluid animations. It is not a typical low detail affair, as the buildings have dirt and cracks and the train has mud on the side of the train next to the wheels. In a world filled with mediocre pixelated art, The Final Station definitely rises above by putting in the effort and time to make it look like its worth your time.
The game itself starts off with you dying. No really. You walk around, climb down a ladder and get eaten by the infected (which are not to be confused with zombies). After that, you wake up without explanation. and the actual game starts. You begin walking around and getting ready for your days as a disrespected train driver, that for some reason has been given the job of driving the most important train in human history. This isn’t explicitly said anywhere in the story, but you are given little snippets and expected to fill in the gaps so I choose to make my character the most important person ever birthed. After wandering around for a bit you eventually jump on the train and start your journey. Sadly, these sections on the train are where the game loses steam.
When the train is moving you need to manage two different things, your passengers, and your train. The passenger management is easy enough, they have a health and hunger bar and you need to keep them both in good standing. Seems simple, but it takes you ten seconds to check on a passenger, procure the required supplies and take it back to them. This doesn’t seem like a lot of time until you see someone die in between seeing their health dip a bit too close to death and them dying as you are about to heal them. There isn’t any real punishment for letting the passengers die, but they give you rewards if you get them successfully to their destination, generally in the form of money which can be used to buy more food, medkits (which is very counterproductive), or ammo and gun power-ups. The other thing you get from them is the (very) occasional story snippet, but that’s only useful if you aren’t managing the train at the time they say it, or some massive foreground element doesn’t get in the way of the text box.
The train management is uninteresting at best. You spend the first ten seconds going to all the systems to see which one is going to need management this particular ride, as it’s only ever one system, and then you click a button or pull a lever until a tick appears. That is literally it. During this time you can also do some basic crafting, either ammo or medkits, as well as get small story snippets from other train drivers on the network. The whole section is just horribly tedious and repetitive in the end, adding next to nothing to the game. When you jump out of the train is where the game actually becomes engaging.
The other part of the game is the survival horror sections, filled with
zombie infected shooting and ammo management. Your time is split between searching buildings, emptying lockers, killing infected and rescuing survivors. The basic task of every train stop is to find the blocker code that disables the magnetic lock that is preventing your train from departing. It’s generally as far away from the train as possible, with many enemies and survivors standing in your way, as well as a bit of bonus area to explore if you are so inclined. The combat can be either melee or ranged, with melee being preferred most of the time as ammo is extremely limited. You can either punch rapidly or charge up a punch which kills run-of-the-mill infected in a single hit, but it has a cooldown which can be very long if you are being chased by a horde. There is also localized damage for the infected, which means head shots are super important and will generally kill in a single shot. Together, all of these elements just work. It is interesting, it is engaging and it keeps you interested and, most importantly, its fun. It managed to keep me engaged for the somewhat meager three hours it took me to finish it, and with ending that just doesn’t satisfy due to the lackluster storytelling, I was left wanting.
I won’t say this game is bad, not by any stretch of the imagination. However, between the ending putting great importance on a narrative that had mostly been absent throughout my playthrough and the repetitive train sections which are filler at best, it is extremely hard to recommend this title. The game is at its best when you are thrust into a city filled with infected, with combat that is fun and holds your attention. Even considering its great visual design on top of that, the rest of the experience is a letdown that is hard to recommend.
The Final Station isn't a bad game, but it just doesn't do enough to draw me into its world and continue enjoying its decent gameplay and stark visual design.
- Very Enjoyable to Look at
- Action Scenes are Fun
- Gunplay Works Perfectly
- Short Game Time
- Lots Of Filler
- Train Sections are Tedious at Best