We review The Final Station for Nintendo Switch, a curious and compelling mix of resource management and tense exploration set in a post-apocalyptic cityscape.
Yeah, so we’re a wee bit sick of zombie games by now. Over a decade ago, the likes of Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead helped to inject some fresh blood into the genre, which kickstarted a craze. Since then we’ve played endless copies and repeats, to the point that the sight of a virtual rotting corpse makes us truly nauseous. For all the wrong reasons.
Thankfully we do, on occasion, play a zombie title that proves innovative enough to keep us hooked. And The Final Station, which is enjoying a new lease of life on Nintendo’s Switch console, is one such game.
The Final Station review: Simple storytelling
The Final Station begins quite ambiguously, with a nameless protagonist blasting his way through a complex filled with infected foes. This short scenario ends swiftly and then you’re waking up in bed, once again with no idea of who you are. Only by exploring the game’s two-dimensional environments do you slowly begin to piece together the story. And as you’d expect, this ain’t exactly a plot filled with rainbows and fluffy bunnies.
We love how the game doesn’t throw a load of backstory at you from the beginning. Rather, the devs trust you to build an understanding of the world, simply through reading snippets of conversations and your brief interactions with other characters. This gradual unfolding is a simple way of keeping you hooked and driving you onwards to the next stop.
The Final Station review: A game of two halves
In a spoiler-free nutshell, your task is to guide a train cross-country. Along the way you’re forced to pause in each town to pick up passengers and discover the breaker code in order to progress. Occasionally you’ll have to complete other tasks too, such as finding a new battery to recharge the train. Once that’s all accomplished, you can set off to the next stop.
Each short segment on board the train involves some very careful time management. The engine itself needs constant attention, with various dials to keep tabs on and levers to occasionally tug. Meanwhile you’ll also need to check on your passengers. They’re a pretty dumb bunch, so they’ll simply keel over and die if you don’t feed them and patch them up when needed. You’ll also want to craft some medkits and ammo when you get the chance, to keep your supplies topped up.
The Final Station review: Careful aiming
These sections are certainly quite involving, though it’s the station segments that are really gripping. You’ll soon pick up a weapon, which can be used to fend off any unwanted attention. However, ammunition is very scarce, so you really do need to make every bullet count. This makes for truly intense gameplay, helped along by the shadowy visuals and minimalist soundtrack. When played in the dead of night, you’ll practically hear your heart pounding as you open each door.
And while you can simply flee back to the train as soon as you find that breaker code or whatever else you need, there’s always another tunnel or building to explore. With food and supplies proving all too scarce, venturing further can really reap rewards. Alternatively, opening that door could unleash a flood of enemies. It’s a tense affair and proves rather terrifying when played alone in the dark.
Thankfully The Final Station is rather gentle when it comes to making mistakes. Death only takes you back a short way, so you won’t end up replaying entire segments.
You can grab The Final Station from the Nintendo store right now.