In a world in danger of being overrun by walking shadows, you are an engineer who has been forced into the role of troubleshooter. You’ve got the only remaining operational train in the whole devastated land, so it’s up to you to deal with whatever comes up. This is The Final Station, published by tinyBuild.
The Flow and the StoryYou keep your train moving by regulating the power in various components, and keeping your passengers fed and healthy for as long as you can, in hopes of getting them to their destinations alive. Succeed, and be rewarded. In between, explore the corrupted stations and towns that are being taken over by the shadows, collecting ammo, money, medicine, and food for your precious human cargo. Do you use the meds you find to keep yourself alive a little longer, or do you save it for that passenger with the bloody cough? Fail, and you die... well, you just get kicked back to the last checkpoint, anyway. Death is cheap in this game, at least for you. For your passengers – not so much. The game autosaves frequently, so screwing up on the train may mean starting over again.
In each corrupted area, you have to explore in order to gather more supplies and ammo (while hoping you find more than you use), while searching for survivors willing to pay for a train ride so that they can get the hell outta Dodge. You will need to seek out a Blocker code in each area – near the end, of course – which allows your train to move on to the next station. Your ultimate goal is to get your train all the way to the ultimate end of the line – the “final station” – intact.
Gameplay and ControlsThe Final Station is a side-scroller, and you control the player character using keyboard & mouse, though the game does offer native Xbox One controller support. Everything is fairly standard – you aim with the mouse / right stick, and the other keys / buttons are used to fire, reload, punch and power punch, perform various actions (open door, pick up, throw, etc.), and cycle weapons.
Be careful, though – some enemy groups seem insurmountable, at least until you find a nice heavy TV to drop on them. That, or until you use some of your hard-to-find ammo to snipe them from the top few rungs of a ladder. And some other things I wasn’t crazy about are the fact that fiddling with the train's components, messaging other engineers to get news along the rails, and crafting ammo and supplies takes you too far away from the passengers. They have plenty to talk about, but you never get to see 90% of it.
There are also some issues with enemy encounter balance. While some are beatable with clever thinking, some just require going hit-and-run and hoping that they run out of HP before you do.
Graphics and SoundThe game features an ever-popular “8-bit” style that serves its purpose well. There’s also plenty of detail in the towns themselves to distract your eye, not always so much in they skyboxes. These details include letters characters have written to one another, notes that died with their recipients (or on the way to them), and so on.
Ambient sounds and music help to convey the feelings the designers want you to feel. The train sounds when riding the rails feel beefy and “big.”