Last Stop is a single-player third-person narrative adventure game set in present day London, where you play as three separate characters whose worlds collide in the midst of a supernatural crisis. An anthology drama, Last Stop is three stories in one.
What connects these three strangers? Where will fate lead them?
Developed in partnership with Annapurna Interactive and featuring an original soundtrack by BAFTA award winning composer Lyndon Holland, Last Stop is a game about secret lives, the ties that bind and how magic can be found in the mundane.
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Last Stop is less a game than it is an interactive television series. Presented in the tradition of shows like Goosebumps or Eerie, Indiana, the game doesn't require much input from the player, who merely selects which dialog option to choose and sometimes controls one of the protagonists as they move from one scene to the next.
Yet, the lack of gameplay does not make this game any less enjoyable. The setting is purely British and there are references that only a British person would likely get. Like the drug dealer who sounds like Dizzie Rascal or Stormzy, but looks like a bad throwback to the 1990s with his Gallagher brothers hairstyle and Baggy-Madchester clothing, creating an array of comedic moments, that could be lost on some.
The narrative follows three tales over six chapters (so 18 episodes in total), with a final chapter linking the three arcs together for a finale. Nothing the player does during this time seems to actually influence the final chapter (although some dialog options do unlock achievements), and it is only at the game's end that the player gets to make impactful choices in regards to the three main characters.
Each character is well written and feels authentic. There's a college student who is struggling to deal with home issues, a military/government agent who works for a secret organisation, and a single father who must juggle work and childrearing, while dealing with health issues. Each of their stories has its moments and there is an attempt to create empathy for each character through minimal gameplay and perspectives (something that the interactive nature of the game format allows more freely than a TV show or movie).
On the graphics front, it has a minimal cartoonish feel, but can sometimes be remarkable in its use of angles, lighting and little details. At one point, the player gets to rummage through someone's drawers, and there's a large DVD collection, with instantly recognisable covers.
The game's lack of gameplay does hinder the experience a little, as it feels far more like an animated TV show than a game. Even the most basic walking simulators, such as Dear Esther, rely on player agency for the story to unfold, the player needing to discover locations through exploration in order to unravel the narrative. Here, the narrative flows with very minimal input, while exploration is cut from the equation.
Still, Last Stop is a very entertaining piece of media, with endearing stories that rekindle a nostalgia for 90s children's horror shows. Despite many dark themes, the game never feels too sombre, which is credit to the writing.
If you were a fan of Variable State's previous game Virginia, I'd warn you to prepare yourself for a big change of pace for this game.
Last Stop is the latest iteration of games that beg the question "but what if games were more like movies and TV?" and manages to put a spin on it that's a bit more inspired than most others.
A very diverse cast of compelling characters, competent enough writing, and the right amount of intrigue to keep people going to the end play to this game's advantages.
In terms of gameplay, it's like a Telltale game but with even more walking around and even less impactful choices, but that's about what I had expected.
Overall, I'd say that the story is what stuck with me after the end credits, it's interesting enough and there's a decent amount of payoffs both emotionally and comedically that it justified its playtime.
6/10 "most british videogame ever" is not the resoundingly positive accolade that a lot of people think it is
I preferred Virginia's more obtuse Lynchian narrative, but this is still pretty solid for a narrative game with very limited interactivity. Not the biggest fan of the turn the plot takes in the final chapter, though - it's not really consistent with the tone of the first six, and ties too many things up a bit too neatly for my taste
How much interactivity is needed in a game? I've always been a big proponent of narrative adventure games or walking sims as they are sometimes called in a derogatory manner. I strongly believe just watching a stream of these games is not enough as the interactivity adds something extra, usually immersion and an ownership of the characters and thus their choices: Role-playing without the stats.
I sadly find it hard to make those arguments for Last Stop.
The characters are the main attraction of this game, as the story follows the lives of 3 characters with a supernatural twist. They are decently written and the animation while looking rather low budget, are expressive enough to get the emotion across. But the main problem is despite the supernatural element, it's just all too familiar. If you've consumed enough stories in your life, you'll most likely be able to identify the characters arcs in all 3 stories within the 1st 2 "chapters." That robbed me of any investment I could have had in the charm of this short game.
As for being a game, I feel the gameplay hinders the story more than it enhances, specially the walking sections. You could argue there are some choices that slightly alter how a scene plays out but it's never enough to put you in the shoes of the characters and more often than not it commits the cardinal sin of each dialogue choice giving roughly the same response despite hinting at otherwise.
All in all, it's a decent game that I'd rather be a tv mini series. If you're really into narrative adventure games and got 5-6 hours to kill, no harm in giving this a shot.
Cor blimey, crikey, etc.
A delightful, brilliantly paced adventure that lacks interactivity and agency but boasts fantastic performances and a strikingly novel interest in the banality of British life. Whilst the bombastic detour of the final act was entertaining, my favourite moments of Last Stop are when it relishes in the quiet everyday. Whole chapters that focus on making tea and reconciling with your dad, or going to work and negotiating with a difficult boss, or bunking off school and chatting rubbish with your mates. There's so much vibrancy and life behind these very normal moments that Last Stop distils so well. It feels faithfully British in every facet, not just in aesthetics, but in feeling.