Monday, February 26

Review: The Final Station [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Usually when facing the potential of the world coming to an end in a game you tend to think of a heroic figure at the forefront of battle, giving their blood, sweat, and tears to save all of humanity. In truth I would imagine it would play out a bit more like The Final Station where you play the role of a mere train conductor fighting to transport vital supplies, and some passengers as well, while staving off death at the hands of enemies you don’t fully understand. Though you remain steadfast to your mission the various and conversations you encounter on the way serve to make you question what’s really going on, and unfortunately as of the game’s upsetting conclusion I’m not 100% positive that I know the answers still.


The action in the game is divided between the operation of the train, which is relatively simple and consists of what are essentially a few mini games to keep things in order and your passengers healthy. Keeping as many people alive as possible will yield money and sometimes some extra bonuses so you should make every attempt to do what it takes to save them, but as your supplies begin to dry up you may need to make some value judgements along the way. At every stop you’ll move into the other phase of the game which involves navigating the buildings and underground passages of the places you’ll visit. With limited health packs and ammo for your gun you’ll need to carefully consider how best to take out each opponent you face, choosing between wasting precious bullets (always go for the head) or risking injury by letting them get close enough for you to punch them. The varied enemy types you’ll encounter will force you to reconsider your tactics often depending on where they are, how they may be grouped, and what objects may be laying around.

The slow trickle of information is a major part of what will drive you to continue, once I got to about the midpoint of the game I couldn’t stop playing because I wanted to know how it would end. While clarity unfortunately isn’t what is ultimately delivered, the elements that can be understood are both aggravating and intriguing. That’s where the additional content in the game comes in, a second mode with a different man in charge who is moving around independently from the main story in a muscle car. His journey is actually a bit more challenging, including several new and decidedly more lethal enemy types to contend with. As a whole I’d say that unfortunately this second take may open more cans of worms than it helps close but the continued fleshing out of the politics and players behind everything going on in the original game remains pretty intriguing and it appears that there are people happy to die to protect their cause. You’ll continue to explore each building, working to find supplies and materials you’ll be able to craft with to help you survive. Since it can be relatively easy to die at times the pretty generous autosave spots overall in the game are very much appreciated and used often.


Turning a more critical eye to Station I’d say the likely primary complaints will revolve around the relative repetition of the gameplay at a high level and the nature of the story being told. Especially with regards to the added campaign if you’ve tired of the explore, kill, and scavenge gameplay loop it will generally just offer more of the same, though it’s admittedly a bit more challenging. With regards to the story there’s an element of Lost to it where a lot of bits of information and ideas are thrown around but it is very hard to tell what is speculation or outright deception and what’s real. Nevertheless a glance at online forums for the game (something you should wait to do AFTER you complete it yourself) easily demonstrates that there’s a great number of people interested in this very topic to discuss it with if you are looking for ideas on what all happens.

The Final Station was a surprise of a game that absolutely snuck up on me and that’s primarily thanks to the story. The action is engaging and can be a challenge but with every new note you find or comment you hear a survivor make the desire to understand this world, what has happened in the past, and what is happening now grows. With a runtime that is just about in the sweet spot for this experience at a handful of hours (though quite a few more if you play the add-on story) The Final Station is a pretty satisfying bite of indie goodness on Switch.


Score: 8

Pros:
  • An intriguing story told near the end of the world, or is it?
  • Autosave points are pretty frequent to help minimize the pain of failure
  • The add-on content provides an added perspective on what is happening and changes up your enemies for added challenge

Cons:
  • If you want clarity in a story you may walk away a bit aggravated
  • The action, overall, doesn’t evolve a great deal over the course of its runtime


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