Do my Best / tinyBuild (studio)
20 April 2017 (released)
24 April 2017
The Final Station was a compelling concept about a train driver during the last days of humanity after a zombie apocalypse. He would need to travel from various locations, helping out survivors, completing various tasks he had been set and finish his journey at a massive shelter in the mountains. While the core game was good there were some flaws, namely the confused narrative and lacking depth in certain mechanics.
The new DLC entitled “The Only Traitor” could hopefully clear up some of the blurred lines and neaten the gameplay for a more intense survival experience. We can hope.
While the main game had sloppy execution in some of the core mechanics, it had least attempted to bring something new to the genre. This new expansion sees you as a toughen survivor, embarking on a journey to a shelter in the mountains after your current home becomes a feeding ground for “them”. You decide to take your beautiful muscle car across the country picking up lone survivors, learning more about the world’s condition and seeing the horrors face to face. This expansion starts off extremely promising and offers some intense aspects for the survival elements.
For example, players now commandeer a mustang rather than a train. This limits who you can take with you, as space is limited to yourself and one other person. There are still elements such as crafting which is effected by who you take and their skill in making ammo and first aid kits. There are some genuinely interesting twists on the original game but everything else is heavily striped back almost to bare bones level. The driving segments enforce no dangers, no dynamic events and serve little in terms of gameplay other than offering a short space to craft items.
I felt this importance to pick one survivor to take with you to lack any substance or tension. All survivors feel as though they grasp the same level of crafting or social skills, making little difference on the impact of making items. Those with a higher crafting skill will use fewer materials but overall this impact is very minimal. Considering there is a social aspect, it again didn’t reveal much more on the narrative nor did carrying someone for the long haul give you a better understanding of the game’s plot. There generally expose similar messages, awkward pauses and knowing a shortcut through to the mountains.
This could’ve opened a grand possibility of an open world as each survivor could take you on different routes to the shelter. However we’re treated to an endless array of ghost towns that soon become tedious. The original game had such depth and the exploration made the world fascinating. Here there’s little to grab you or make you feel invested other than a new enemy presence, a cult of deranged survivors who come and go and by the end don’t get a full resolution.
The Only Traitor also the same problem as the main game did with the same objective popping up every mission. I get it you need food, water and fuel for the car to keep going but there’s no variation in the objectives, the count for items doesn’t increase or the way to obtain doesn’t change. You explore, you fight off monsters and find the items in set locations. Having side objectives, lateral elements, dynamic events or just allowing players to explore different locations would’ve made things more compelling and less tedious. Its standard fetch quest every time and the game loses momentum by the half way point.
The combat is also limited in comparison has you’ll have one firearm throughout but this doesn’t make much impact as you’ll be equipped with an overpowered baseball bat. You can just pretty much swing your way past most encounters, unless you’re on low health. There are some neat new enemies, including those who spit acid (little easy as you can just charge them and they don’t bother to hit back), crawlers and a new super powerful enemy who can kill in one hit.
I must praise the music as the soundtrack is beautiful. The collective of simple tones and melodies makes a wonderfully haunting soundtrack that is perfect accompaniment throughout the horrific journey.
The main issue, the reason I’ve given the game the mark it’s received, the ending. Same problem as before as we’re given a build-up that shows promise and all of a sudden the writer decides to attempt another David Lynch style ends which makes no sense what so ever. I get it, it’s different from what you might expect but just because we travel to medieval fort after a battle and see conversations on people we’ve not met being killed off doesn’t explain anything. It doesn’t do a great job at tying up the loose ends from the original game.
It’s something I’ve played a couple of times to find new, exciting things I might’ve missed but sadly this DLC became more of a chore each time. There was potential for a great expansion but rather than fixing certain problems from the core game, it’s been watered down, repeated and designed with safe intentions. There’s little to really grasp here that’s new or worth exploring from the core game. I do hope the next expansion will explore new ideals for the core game as the world is very interesting and allowing mass exploration, more important choices and a proper, compelling plot would really strengthen The Final Station into a bigger IP.
++ Gripping concept
++ Fantastic soundtrack and visuals
-- Stripping back on the original's gameplay
-- The narrative is still baffling without substance
- Doesn't expand on dynamic elements
A Stream code of The Only Traitor was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review