A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Final Station is a downloadable side-scrolling action/adventure game. Players battle dark creatures with multiple types of upgradeable weapons, environmental objects like boxes and toilets, or even bare fists. The pixelated visuals limit the impact of the violence. One character in the beginning appears drunk; other characters are shown smoking, and items such as pills, whiskey, and cigarettes are used as collectibles. The Nintendo Switch version also adds in the downloadable content (DLC) The Only Traitor, introducing a new character, plot, and scenario to play through.
What's it about?
THE FINAL STATION sets players in a post-apocalyptic world fighting off hordes of "infected." Players are tasked with taking a train from station to station while rescuing survivors, exploring environments, gathering supplies, and discovering clues about what's happened to the world around them. Gameplay is broken up into two main parts: trains and stations. The train is your home base, and you must maintain the train and the health of the survivors between stops. Getting survivors to their destination unravels more of the story and grants valuable rewards. Each station holds a blocker code to get the train rolling to the next location. You must venture through each depot to find the code, collect resources, and rescue survivors while battling increasingly difficult hordes of infected. Players must then decide whether to use the valuable resources to aid themselves in battle and save dying passengers or let the survivors die and loot their bodies. The Nintendo Switch version includes the DLC content The Only Traitor, which lets players take on the role of Peter, a survivor trying to make it to shelter and escape the infected. But instead of using a train, Peter drives a car from place to place. This means that he can take only one survivor with him at a time, and players will need to gauge which ones have better skills to stay alive on the road.
Is it any good?
This side-scrolling adventure captures what it might feel like to be an actual person who wakes up in the midst of post-apocalyptic chaos. The narrative style of the game is great for people who enjoy opening every door to search for clues. The story unfolds as you go, and the survivors you rescue help fill in the missing pieces. But saving people isn't as easy as finding them and getting them on your train. You have to decide if you will sacrifice the very sparse and valuable resources you gather to feed and heal the survivors or keep those resources for yourself. Sometimes there simply aren't enough items to save everyone, and you're faced with the tough decision of whom to save and whom to let die. It's not all doom and gloom, though, with some goofy humor and twisted jokes popping up to keep things from getting too bleak.
But a big miss with this game is the survival aspect. With frequent checkpoints and no penalty for failing, you're not really surviving the apocalypse -- you're just kind of hacking your way through it. There's still a decent challenge with the scarcity of resources, especially ammo, but even combat has its ups and downs. For example, a well-placed head shot takes fewer bullets, but if you've encountered a horde of infected, things can get a bit chaotic, and the lack of clearly defined controls can be a hindrance. Finally, the game is pretty short, only taking about four to six hours, depending on how thoroughly you want to explore. At least the Switch version includes The Only Traitor DLC, which easily doubles the play time of the game while also introducing a spin-off story. It adds new mechanics, like picking and choosing the best survivors you run across -- although leaving someone behind for a character that's possibly better seems rather cruel. But it does give a new take on this wasteland and addresses some of the mysteries of the original. Adventure and action fans should really like the mystery and gameplay of The Final Station; it'll keep players on their toes as they explore the ruins of society.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games such as The Final Station. Is the violence in this game acceptable because you're fighting unrealistic and visually indistinct creatures? Does it add to the gameplay or detract from it?
Discuss survival. What are the most important things you would need to survive in a place with limited resources?
Talk about decisions. How difficult would it be to have to decide whom to save?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $14.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: tinyBuild
- Release date: February 23, 2018
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Trains
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Blood, Language
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