General game information
Game name: The Final Station
Release date: 30 Aug, 2016
Price: US$ 14.99
Genre: Survival horror with action and resource management elements
Developer: Do My Best Games
Gamers who stumble upon The Final Station‘s Steam Store page may probably think that it’s yet another roguelike zombie survival game, the platform’s latest fad. Luckily for us, they couldn’t be further from the truth.
Instead, tinyBuild‘s latest offering is a relatively short story based survival horror game with some resource management elements. Players will control a train driver who must deliver some precious cargo in order to help stop an apocalyptic event. Along the way, the player character will have to stop at train stations in order to get a code that lets the train keep moving forward. Stations could be full of infected people, who will attack on sight and must be eliminated or evaded, or may be inhabited by normal denizens of this futuristic world.
The Final Station is a game with two distinct gameplay styles, a resource management segment and a 2d survival horror/shooter part.
When the player is riding the train between stations, they have to take care of different parts that may malfunction at any given moment, check on the passengers’ status and feed/heal them if necessary. At the beginning, this gameplay segment will be quite easy, since the train driver will not have to care for many passengers. However, as gamers visit more and more stations, a growing number of survivors will join their party, and every one of them may have specific needs. Some NPCs may be injured and require medikits in order to survive, and all of them will require food at some point. In order to gather the supplies needed to keep survivors alive, players will need to explore the infected stations on foot.
The exploration part plays out like a normal 2d shooter. Gamers start the game armed with a simple pistol and a melee attack that can be used to deal with the weaker infected types, as long as they are alone. Combat is fast paced, rewarding quick thinking and good aiming. Most infected will die from a single headshot, though the game gradually introduces new enemy types, as well as two more weapons, a shotgun (which can deal with any enemy in a single shot, but requires a specific ammo type) and a rifle, which acts as an upgraded version of the starting pistol. Ammunition is always limited, and fighting every enemy in each station may not be a good idea.
Since players can’t see new areas before opening the doors that lead to them, exploration quickly becomes unpredictable and almost terrifying, as a horde could be hiding behind any unopened door, but one may also find the supplies needed to save another survivor.
Every few infected stations, the train will stop at an inhabited settlement. At this point, players get paid for each survivor successfully transported to their destination and may spend those funds on weapon upgrades, ammunition, medikits and food.
Although its gameplay is competent enough to carry most of the game, The Final Station‘s standout aspect is its storytelling and world building. At the beginning of the journey, players know that something terribly wrong is happening and that their train could be the key to salvation, but information is scarce and nothing is certain. Along the way, the game carefully drip-feeds information through notes, e-mails, and even background art. Rescued survivors will talk to each other as the train moves, and inquisitive players will gradually be able to piece together the game’s story.
The game ends just as the core gameplay loop starts to feel repetitive (for me, that was at the five hour mark) and players get to experience a strangely satisfying ending which I won’t spoil here.
The Final Station is a great addition to the survival horror genre. Do My Best Games‘ debut title mixes competent gameplay with excellent storytelling and world building in order to create a compelling adventure that never overstays its welcome.
8/10 – Very good.