Some “notes” I made while writing my review for The Final Station. If you can read Indonesian, check it out at Tech in Asia ID. Only parts of this made it to the full review, and it sure ain’t as raving mad as these.
tl;dr: The Final Station is a damn fine game that should be played by everybody, particularly those interested in storytelling.
Although the actions stay the same for the length of the game–open doors, shoot, run, survive–it never feels tacky or repetitive. There’s always something for you to find, always something out there to surprise you. A little note there, a message from a wife to her husband, an innocent “I’m going to go out for tea” while you know, you always know, that they most certainly never came back from their break. And then the more sinister signs, a broken light pole, a light that’s left on, blood marks in the door, and of course, the corpses. On the street (probably was out for a walk), in their bedroom (didn’t see it coming), locked in a closet (starve themselves to death?). And the monsters, in all the places that you can find them.
Even with its simple pixel style, its minimalist exposition, the game is a hallmark of environmental storytelling. Only a few of those spread-out narrative matters to the main plot, but they don’t have to. Here is a world, this is what it was like before it died. Sometimes you’ll open a door and shoot your way through a horde of zombies just because you want to know what’s out there, if there were anybody alive.
It’s a desperate struggle not to just save yourself, but also to save other people, to care about everyone no matter who they are.
It’s a kind game. It has a heart. You’d think in a zombie shooter you’d get used with all the carnage, you’d think after saving yet another person and hearing them babble yet again about how wrong the world is turning out to be and how much of a disadvantage it’s putting them in you’d get numb to the ideas, but here it never stops the suspense. The game doesn’t remind you that the world is cruel, but it doesn’t have to. It writes down its thought of how cruel it is and scatter it around the world for you yourself to find.
It’s a damn fine game. It keeps your heart pumping. It doesn’t pull you in, but it compels you to pull yourself in. It’s challenging without trying too hard, it’s threatening without going overboard. With its pixel aesthetic and indie sentiment, you’d come and expect something lite and simple and you’d be wrong. It’s a gem that’s polished to near-perfection. A pitch-perfect combination of everything that made it what it is.