IntroductionThe Final Station is a side-scrolling survival game where you battle hordes of zombies, rescue survivors, and progress further inside a train after removing any blockades on the tracks, in hopes of finding safety. Developed by TinyBuild, the game offers yet another chance and option for video gamers to test life and death against a Zombie apocalypse. You can buy the indie title on PlayStation Store, Xbox Marketplace, or Steam for $14.99.
StoryThe game begins as you wake up in your suburban home one morning. It must be Monday because making your way to your job as a train conductor is priority number one. Traversing across the neighborhood and the stores located within, you'll soon find the station where you are to clock in for work. Security is tight at the entrance; armed guards force you to pass through the metal detector first in order to go inside.
Change your clothes at your employee locker, hop on board the provided train, and begin your adventure into the chaos and infected stations along the way to your final destination delivering the goods that will save humanity. The game is flooded with side conversations, backstories, and personal interactions with the survivors, ultimately telling the story but no narration means you must closely pay attention to the small subtle bits of world-event talks or you'll miss out.
GameplayThe game plays in a side-scrolling fashion, with an ability to climb up or descend down using ladders. Regardless of the environment, ladders are abundant and also the only way to move to other platforms. Luckily for you, the shadow looking zombies have a hard time using them as well. There is no jumping action, but it's OK since having the ability to do so would feel pointless if not incredibly annoying. As in any good survival game, the items you find truly mean life or death.
While exploring the stations, finding health packs, food, ammo, money, and codes to unblock the train tracks is of the utmost importance. Hidden in lockers, medicine cabinets, and an array of other hiding spots that glow white when close enough to interact, you'll be able to acquire the good within, which can be used on yourself or found survivors. Traversing the inside of stations along the way is important, not only to find the code to unlock the gate preventing train track progression but to find the mentally wrecked survivors scattered about. Helping them to their desired stop yields bonuses in items and money. Occasionally you'll come across safe towns in-between the stations where you can spend the money acquired. You can buy food, medical supplies, weapon upgrades, and ammo, but supplies do run short quickly.
When on the train, traveling through the multiple acts (each act with several train stops), you'll be required to watch survivors' hunger and health meters. If they fall too short in one aspect, they will die. At the front of the train are two housings for food and medical supplies, and when needing to give a survivor what they need, you must carry it to the back of the train where they sit. Keep a watchful eye on how the train is operating as well because unbalanced pressures and heating need to be addressed as soon as possible, in miniature puzzles (nothing complex and very self-explanatory).
When you finally acquire a gun, an upgrade to your punching ability, you'll be able to efficiently kill the zombie attackers. Some are mindless and slow zombies while others will be quick and low to the ground or covered with body armor. A shooting reticle is positioned small ways away from the character and is aimed in a circular pattern around him in different directions, but never needs adjustment regarding depth; bullets are fired in a continuous straight line. When you encounter the zombies who are wearing body armor, you'll need to give them a good punch to knock off their helmet to allow that powerful headshot. Aiming is controlled with the right analog stick while movements are controlled with the left analog stick.
Sound and GraphicsThere is not much in the form of compelling music or a climatic soundtrack to match the unfolding events towards the end, but they do provide a soft tone to the dead environments you'll experience as you side-scroll. I would have liked to hear better, or more, zombie related sound effects to cause greater fear of them, but the game falls short in that area.
Everything plays in a pixel styled design, though it does a good job allowing recognition of the environments and characters. Due to the many ladder and platform layouts of stations, the game can arguably feel a little repetitive, but everything carries a different style or tone, enough to feel diversity among every stop taken along the way. Enemies all look the same (a black and empty figure) but move very different from one another; you can easy comprehend which of the types you're being swarmed by even when in small hordes piled up on each other.
ConclusionThe Final Station makes for a good afternoon gaming experience. Playthroughs will clock in at about 3.5 to 4 hours depending on thoroughness, and it is easily a time that can be sped up come your second or third after learning everything about the game. Regardless of time, the quality of indie game inside this title is fun and worthy of at least one playthrough. The story is mixed in during conversations held by survivors and notes, which at first is a nice touch but quickly gets lost with the frantic gameplay going on around it. While the ending was slightly lackluster in comparison to the scope of the game, it still fits with the survival aspects.
|+ Fun survival management and gameplay||- Story is hidden within dialogs|
|+ Interesting environments||- Repetitive concepts of long train traveling|
|+ Runs flawlessly with little to no bugs/glitches||- Lacks deeper character progression|
|+ Nicely designed pixel graphics|