Final Station from Do My Best Games and published by ‘No time to explain’ developers tinyBuild, is a survival shooter/resource-management game due for release for PC this summer on Steam. Join me as I take a first look at the beta version and catch up with Final Station developer, Oleg Sergeev.
Zombies, our favourite anthropomorphic personification for a whole host of deep rooted societal and psychological fears and, by far, the best guilt free bullet catchers to grace our video game screens, are up to their usual tricks in the post- apocalyptic inter-city railway vagabondage: Final Station.
Wearing their inspirations on their sleeve (This War of Mine), the developers have taken the survival shooter/resource-management genre, switched it to a 2D 8-bit pixel art style, and placed the action on an armoured inter-city train speeding through the initial stages of a zombie epidemic. Stopping off at various termini, our protagonist (the train’s driver) must disembark to clear a path for his train, pick up weapons, supplies and any stray civilians that need to hitch a lift, whilst fending off the undead horde. Between cities our train driver must strive to keep his walking wounded alive by attending to their various needs as best he can; maintaining various life systems, feeding them and giving them first aid. As we push further down the tracks a plot begins to reveal itself concerning the mysterious cargo the train is carrying (I bet it’s Twinkies) and its true mission.
The gameplay is split into two alternating halves, the intercity stages, which takes place onboard the train and the terminus stages which take place at each train station and surrounding area.
During the intercity stages, you must try to keep your passengers alive by maintaining life support systems, supplying them with food and medikits, as well as maintaining the train’s systems. This is achieved by running up and down the train flicking switches, pulling leavers and fetching/delivering supplies to your passengers. At the same time, we get to witness the effect the zombie outbreak is having on our world as the train speeds through the different landscapes, but don’t stop to admire the view for too long or you may find yourself travelling alone. These sections are about the right length to maintain interest and act as a nice break from the alternate section of the gameplay.
Each time the train arrives at a new destination our intrepid train driver must leave his passengers to retrieve a code, which allows passage to the next city. Whilst doing so, we can pick up supplies, weapons, fight a variety of zombies and pick up or interact with other characters. This section functions as a 2D platform shooter where the gamer uses the keyboard to control the train driver’s movements and the mouse to control his aim, Forgotten Worlds style (everyone knows Forgotten Worlds, right? Never mind). This section plays well and is exciting in parts, whilst also driving the plot. The difficulty is set about right (for me, anyway) and you soon learn to conserve your ammo for the tougher foes and use chairs, boxes and other items to bash the weaker reanimated meat sacks.
I caught up with Oleg Sergeev, the developer of Final Station, to ask him a few questions.
DrJK: How is the development going? Have you faced any particular challenges? If so, how did you overcome them?
Oleg: Development is going great. The last big challenge for me personally was to understand that most of the people have completely different styles of playing our game. Like, I’m always running into room and start fight with enemies, for me that was an obvious way to play. But most of the people trying to get back a bit when they facing with enemies. They’re always trying to hide on the stairs and stuff like that, playing more safely. So after this big discovery, we decide to make some major changes in enemies AI.
How did you come up with the story-line for the game?
Storyline went through many changes. But my general idea is that you see the world before the apocalypse, then you see the world during the apocalypse, and after that, that idea is still alive and I love it.
Are you planning any other games set in the ‘Final Station’ universe?
I really love this world, with a huge backstory. And it’s very attractive even to set all your games into one universe. But I’m not sure about that yet.
You chose to go with an 8-bit style for the graphics, what are the reasons for this? Were you inspired by anything in particular?
Maybe it’ll sound weird, but my main thought was to create graphics for the game as quick as possible. And since pixel art is more easier to create (at least for me), it was fast choice. At that time I was thinking only about realistic plans to finish the game, that was №1 goal, not the beauty or realistic look.
You chose to develop the game using Unity, is there a particular reason you chose Unity over the other game engines on the market?
I think for 2d game it’s best you can find right now.
Do you have any advice or tips for upcoming indie developers?
Ohhh, I’m not sure. I think it’s right to give advice only if you already done something, our release is the end of summer, and I think only after that I’ll be glad to share something.
Can you tell us anything that might surprise our readers?
I can tell one thing about the game. The apocalypse is just the beginning:)
Thanks a lot, I can’t wait to see the finished game.
Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of the whole 8-bit retro pixel art style, I think in this case it works well. The parallax landscapes are well done (again for the style they have gone for) and there are a few background events to look out for which give you the sense of a larger world outside of the confines of the train carriage. The two types of gameplay work well but I have to say that I favour the run and gun levels rather than the resource management ones. The sound and music is generally somber and reflects the tone of the game well. The only exception is when it comes to blasting zombies, where the gunshots are fierce and the realistic crisp metal on metal sound of a clip being reloaded gives a real sense of action. Blasting groups of zombies in the metro with my newly acquired shotgun was particularly good fun and the slow plot reveals, as the game progresses, capture your attention further.
The first chapter took about an hour-ish to complete. So, with the promise of five chapters on release and assuming the price is right, I’m going to say that this game is definitely worth a download, especially for all those commuters out there.