Developer: Do My Best Games
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
Format: PC (Reviewed)
Released: August 31, 2016
The Final Station is the debut title from indie studio Do My Best. It’s a difficult game to pigeonhole, but I suppose it could be best described as an Action RPG. There are elements of party management, looting, crafting, as well as 2D side-scroller shooting. It’s an interesting combination, but not one that would necessarily lend itself to a cohesive gameplay experience.
The game’s backstory unfolds in a piecemeal fashion over the course of the game. At the beginning, you understand that it’s the future, and there’s trouble afoot. You play as an engineer aboard his train right when the apocalypse happens. You learn that something is transforming people into bloodthirsty shadow creatures, and many of the towns you’ll later encounter are already completely overrun with them. You need to make it from station to station, picking up resources and survivors along the way, whilst fighting off hoards of the undead as you try to reach the nation’s capital and salvation from the apocalypse.
Each station comes with a blocker, a device that prevents your train from travelling any further. You’ll have to scour each station for a 4 digit blocker code, which is often found in the deepest part of the map behind locked doors and the unfriendly shadow creatures. This is one of the core parts of the game: tense, survival horror-like segments where ammunition is scarce and you are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of enemies. Fortunately you can throw chairs, boxes and even toilets at enemies, all of which deliver one-hit kills.
In between stops you can heal and feed your passengers, as well as craft a few basic items like ammunition and medkits. There will also be a handful of subsystems aboard your train that will randomly malfunction and need to be repaired; these moments serve as super simple minigames where you might have to do things like turn a particular knob in order to match the values across several dials. These games ensure your train doesn’t consume more power than it produces, the consequences of which can be as dire as your passengers dying. You’ll even occasionally get messages from engineers on other trains that reveal more about the game’s plot, though more often than not I could just ignore these since they don’t really add that much. The same goes for the dialogue between passengers when your train’s on the move.
The Final Station uses its 8-bit era inspired graphics to great effect. The interior of the abandoned buildings you explore are rendered mostly in greyscale with the occasional splash of colour. The environments are also subtly interactive. For example, when I was in a supermarket I found I could knock canned goods off the shelves. Even things like overhead lights and windows can all be shot at and destroyed. The objects you’re meant to interact with – lockers, medicine cabinets, computers, noticeboards and so forth – are highlighted with a white border as you walk past them, making them easy to distinguish.
The sound effects are a little weak – as they’re most likely stock clips – but otherwise serviceable. There isn’t a whole lot of music in the game, but what is there is suitably atmospheric and matches the game’s tone effectively. The keyboard controls are pretty standard, though it’s worth mentioning that these cannot be remapped and there is currently no controller support available.
There’s a lot to like about The Final Station. It can be hectic and panic-inducing at times, yet sombre and introspective at others. It teases you with a near-future world that you don’t fully comprehend and offers a tantalising mystery that begs you to find out what’s really going on. The graphics are simplistic but incredibly pleasing and the gameplay is intuitive and mostly satisfying – but I do think that a more straightforward tutorial would definitely be a welcome addition in a future update. That being said, I imagine the game may become a little repetitive for some players over the game’s 4-5 hour length. You’ll basically be repeating the same mission over and over, just in slightly different locations, which may also affect the game’s replayability. The sameyness of the levels and repetitive gameplay prevent The Final Station from achieving a higher score, though I still feel it’s worth playing for the gorgeous art and interesting combination of gameplay elements. Overall, The Final Station is an enjoyable romp through the apocalypse, albeit a little overpriced in my opinion. I bought the game prior to release at a 20% discount. So I’d say it’s best to try and nab it when it’s 20% off or more.
Final Score: 3/5
Final Recommendation: Wait for a Sale