The Final Station (PC) review
"Riding to the End of the World"
The Final Station is an atmospheric Survival game that for what it is, presents itself with a stellar atmosphere and tone but starts bogging down with a structure that rarely shakes things up til itís too late.
The Final Station drives around this simple gameplay loop. You conduct and manage your train, stop to find supplies/survivors, get back on train, repeat. What makes it a journey worth going is the dense atmosphere and the solid combat, but it ultimately drags on for what is a short game.
Again, I can't express enough just how well-composed the atmosphere is. It hits the tone of such an apocalyptic word right in the bullseye, with engaging interaction between your passengers, the simple but atmospheric music, and the visual art style really make it something else. The game gets deathly quiet at times, and when you're in the train, you can see the background around you dynamically change as you progress each location, with your passengers responding to the bleak events of their world. For my good 5-6 hour campaign, I really felt like I was traveling around on a bleak journey to keep on going.
But for a good 5-6 hours, I felt like I was doing almost the same things over again. Keep the train voltage from going too high (between each stop, one random part of your train will need constant checking on). Scavenging every bit of each stop. Killing zombies. Getting train codes, trekking from the end of the map back to the train. At the end of each chapter, youíll stop at a town where you can buy things like upgrades that are too expensive to be of any use or on useful supplies like Bullets and Medkits. The core gameplay is solid but it stays simplistic and rarely deviates from the norm. Sure, new zombie types are added and as you progress there'll be more types of interactions but it rarely shake things up, because no matter the type of zombies Iím dealing with, I still feel like I'm solving the same problems in this 2D corridor shooter.
I just feel like there needs to be something to up the stakes more, something to make the gameplay match with its tone so well. Maybe permadeath? Hunger Meters for your own character? A more interesting crafting system? Maybe it sounds like I'm asking for things not necessary for this game, but there just needs to be something to up the stakes, to make it harder and brutal to play. Because this game is easy to cheese with its million checkpoints and lack of any significant punishment for recklessness or not bothering to keep your passengers. I found myself not really running out of ammo at all, with the crafting parts needed for it or the ammo itself being found in a decent quantity. Playing the game conservatively and scavenging like a madman makes it almost way too easy to keep your passengers and yourself from not dying.
But don't get me wrong, this game is not poorly made at all. Its mechanics are tight, its corridor dungeon-like exploring levels are well-crafted, and the various types of infected can make some encounters almost as some kind of puzzle. Thereís almost this kind of unique flow to scavenging and exploring through the levels. For what was mainly developed by 2 people, it is an incredibly solid effort. However, it stands out as a game that I tried so hard to keep myself playing with its amazing atmosphere, but one I also didnít want to continue playing because of just how shallow its gameplay is. It just doesnít challenge itís brilliant concept to any degree, which is something games like these really need to do if they want to stand out among others like it.
It's disappointing to say that I can't entirely recommend the game. Because I had a lot of fun with it and I was absolutely sucked in the experience, but it wore off its welcome by the time I got through half of the whole game and rarely did anything but play it safe. If you want to be sold on a decent atmosphere or could give less of a crap about its gameplay loop being mostly the same then you'll find something here to really click to you. But otherwise, it may be divisive for people expecting it to be at least challenging from a mechanical standpoint.
Its combat and gameplay is incredibly solid and tight.
The atmosphere is bleak, well-composed, and incredibly immersive, with its well-composed visuals and music
Takes awhile to get going in itís first chapter.
Shopping is simplistic and upgrades are way too much trouble to be of any use.
Interesting Dialogue pops up between passengers while on the train, but because the game keeps you so busy with a simple mundane task Iím rarely able to see all of it depending on what specific part of the train needs constant repairing.
The Structure of the game is ultimately repetitive and rarely changes things.
Thereís a lack of real punishment to death or failing to tend to your own survivors, making the game far from difficult or really taxing.
TL;DR - [The Final Station may be an exhilarating and atmospheric ride, but it's repetitive structure and shallow gameplay screeches it to a halt.]
Community review by MeltingComet (January 17, 2017)
MeltingComet/Nikoback is a game developer, game reviewer, and speedrunner. You can find his work @ nikobackgames.weebly.com
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