Preview: The Final Station

It’s become the norm to internally groan at news of yet another side-scrolling indie title. A similar reaction often occurs at the words “post-apocalyptic survival game”. Yet tinyBuild’s combination of the two provides an addictive and distinctive adventure that makes the beta rather impressive.

• Developer: Do My Best Games
• Publisher: tinyBuild
• Reviewed on: PC
• Also Available On: N/A
• Release Date: Summer 2016

The Final Station sees the player in the role of a train conductor, travelling from station to station in light of a recent apocalyptic disaster. Our protagonist is a strong but silent killer of undead who manages nonetheless to convince survivors to seek refuge on board his moving base. Not that they need much convincing. Each journey will take you to a new location that’s succumbed to the zombie threat, the major objectives to find any living, salvage supplies and hunt for the “blocker code” which will allow the train to move on.

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It’s hard to see this game standing out without the combination of interesting little features that make up its whole. After finding your first weapon and performing some nicely-placed headshots it’s clear that ammo resources are worth thinking about. There’s a melee button for a reason; similarly, there are some fun objects placed in the environment that can be used as effective weapons against the undead. In The Final Station headshots are satisfying, but so is bludgeoning a zombie with a toilet. Better yet, it’s not just an amusing gimmick; sometimes it’s genuinely smarter to lob a box than go for a melee attack, because some of these zombies are fast. The Final Station avoids the generic because details are clearly important to this game, whether it be variety in zombie encounters or the notes and fragments of information you find throughout each level. One detail I personally loved was discovering that survivors had the makings of individual identities; the game feels much more thoughtful when you realise you’ve rescued a nice chap named Martin Jarvis, a writer slash librarian. Efforts have been made to carve a convincing world for this train to journey through, and when you do come across food and medicine, it’s hard to overlook your injured passengers.

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The Final Station requires the player to be aware of the surroundings both on and off the track. Breaks between stations allow you to feed or heal your passengers, maintain your vehicle and perhaps even pick up a message through the train computer. The gameplay might not be as exciting as when you’re shooting your way through subway tunnels, but it’s a smart idea – it breaks up the routine, provides some anticipation and adds more depth to a game that otherwise could be an uninspired pixel shooter. It provides a touch of the flavour you get from fantastic simulation games such as Faster Than Light.

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The Final Station has a blend of features that makes it really quite addictive to play. It’s by no means as simple as shotgun blasting your way through zombie hordes, and I’m thankful for that; the player needs to be wary of closed doors and watchful of resources. The pace easily quickens in the first hour, and so does the amount of enemies. By the end of the beta, which contains the first act out of the total five, it’s clear there’s more to experience than the game’s genre specification or synopsis suggests. I for one am looking forward to encountering future surprises along The Final Station’s tracks.

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