The Final Station Preview Impressions

We were recently able to get our hands on a preview version of The Final Station, an action-adventure game coming to Steam sometime this summer.  It’s a dark, atmospheric game, with a distinct visual style and tense, challenging gameplay. You take the role of a train conductor traveling across a broken, dying world as you look for supplies and survivors.

In some ways, The Final Station plays like a classic survival horror game. Each time your train comes to a stop, you must explore the surrounding environment, looking for a key code that will allow you to progress. As you traverse the nearby abandoned buildings, you’ll come across old notes and messages that clue you in to the state of the world.

It isn’t long until you discover that danger often waits behind the corner. Infected beings lurk in the shadows, and will pursue you aggressively at first sight. They often appear after you open a door or descend a ladder, but will sometimes hide in bathroom stalls and closets, ready to pounce if you draw near. Ammo and medkits are limited, so it’s important to time and aim your shots well, or find objects in the environment to serve as makeshift projectiles.

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Occasionally you will come across survivors during your expeditions into the world. These survivors can be rescued and put aboard your train where they must be fed and cared for. During my brief time with the game, this wasn’t too difficult; I had more than enough provisions to feed the small group that came aboard. But as the game progresses, this promises to be a much more difficult task. Players may have to choose to leave people behind rather than give up the few resources they have.

As my brief journey wrapped up, my train came to an undisturbed human settlement that gave more context to the game’s futuristic setting. People lived and worked in this city as if the rest of the world wasn’t dying, tending shops on the street and sitting inside skyscraper offices.

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During the first chapter I faced several different types of enemies, used a pistol and shotgun, and solved a few basic puzzles. The train transfers the player from level to level, and needs to be maintained by tinkering with its various systems while in transit. I didn’t get a great feel for exactly how these systems work, but I understood it well enough to get from point A to point B.

The visuals are a lot more striking than the screenshots can do justice. As the train travels from one locale to another, the background shifts with it, showing forests, airports, old farms and factories. It’s eerie to see these abandoned environments drift by, not knowing what exactly has befallen society. A hauntingly beautiful soundtrack accompanies the game’s quieter moments; it’s peaceful and pretty, but also sorrowful, befitting the game’s atmosphere.

Much of the dialogue in The Final Station is still being written and reworked, so I can’t predict precisely how the story will be told, or whether the narrative will be more structured at the beginning of the game. At the moment the beginning is vague, but even if it stays that way, I think it could work. I liked starting the game in a confused, unsettled state, having to work out myself what to do and where to go. The Final Station has a ton of potential, and if the last four chapters come together as well as the first, then it will be a gem of a game. It’s scheduled to release this summer, and I can’t wait to play more.

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