What is The Final Station?
As the developer and publisher describe it The Final Station is part ‘train simulator and exploration game’ and part ‘hardcore sidescrolling shooter.’
My expectations for The Final Station were relatively high. This is in part because I enjoyed the Reddit AMA that Alex Nicihiporchik from tinyBuild and developer Oleg Sergeev created to hype their game. As a former marketing student I am of the opinion that Reddit can be a great – and cheap – marketing activity to promote your game (or any product for that matter). I believe that you have to take every opportunity that you can to communicate with potential customers. It’s not something that nearly enough developers are doing.
It Starts Very Slowly
The game is approximately four or so hours in length. However, the first half an hour or so of the game builds up to the main gameplay. I personally found this period to be very slow and tedious. It doesn’t do enough to generate interest and keep you emotionally connected to the game. It’s not until the game is well and truly into its meaty portion where I felt in sync with the gameplay.
Linearity Reduces Replayability
In the AMA Igor makes the claims that the game is one that many people will want to play numerous times in order to completely understand the game. This is generally true for most media. The more you play something the more its secrets are revealed. You will discover something that you didn’t previously know. However, I don’t believe that most players would want to play the game through multiple times. This is because the game is extremely linear.
There may be things that you wish you knew earlier in a game to get a different outcome. For example, I’ve read reports of numerous people not realizing that you could craft items on the train until late in the game.
I would suggest that those who are likely to play the game multiple times are the achievement hunters. This is because a number of the game’s achievements require you to meet certain numerical requirements in order for the achievement to unlock. This isn’t always going to happen on the first or even the second playthrough.
Outstanding Level Design
Bravo to the devs on outstanding level design. The greatest asset that the game has is its level design. Although replayability is minimal because of its linear approach the actual level design makes an initial playthrough an exciting adventure (after the initial starting period). The decision to make everything behind a closed door dark was brilliant. This provides an air of mystery for everything that you do. Finding out what is lurking in the darkness is a rewarding experience.
Combat Becomes Trivial
Arguably the most significant criticism that I have with the game is in a disappointing way combat becomes trivialized. Once you learn how to manage your available ammunition the risk almost feels non-existent. This is because of the overly generous checkpoint system. Whenever, if ever, you do die you don’t ever get put back very far. This means that aside from ammo management players can be as reckless and as carefree with the enemies as you would like. I’m not asking for a game that is as punishing as a Dark Souls game where every misstep carries a significant cost but I would like to know that I will be penalized proportionately for poor play.
Clever Train Simulation
I appreciate the design that went into the actual train simulation The creation of a number of mini-games is intelligent and keeps players engaged throughout the rail journey. Having to maintain and repair parts of the train through mini games was fantastic. They are all easily accessible to most gamers and are engaging. I also liked the little onboard messaging system with other characters within the game. I felt that this added to the game’s narrative in a clever way.
The fact that you have to do this at the same time as tending to the needs of your passengers also gets a thumbs up from me. It mixes the realities of the customer service aspects of train travel with the hard work maintenance. Of course, the reality is that real life train services have multiple people doing these jobs but it is still interesting and well-designed nonetheless.
The pixel graphics have been designed by Oleg and he has done a masterful job in their creation. I have a tendency to believe that pixel graphics have been overdone lately and that they don’t suit every game style. However, I believe that they really help build the atmosphere that they were hoping to achieve. It is one of the standout features of the game. I love the contrasts that they achieve in relation to shape and size.
Is it Steamified?
The Final Station has Steam achievements and Steam trading cards. This makes the game Steamified.
I am honestly on the fence in regards to The Final Station. It’s a game where I truly wish I hadn’t had my expectations and hopes raised for it. There is a high likelihood that I would have enjoyed my time with the game that much more had I not. The Final Station isn’t a bad game but it’s certainly not as good as it could have been. I can recommend the game to those of you seeking a relatively short survival adventure game especially to those of you not seeking significant replayability. If you’re looking for anything more then you may be barking up the wrong tree.