26 Jul 2021 3:10 PM +00:00

Last Stop Review: On-The-Rails Adventure With Express Travel

Last Stop is a narrative-driven adventure that faithfully stages its London setting as a backdrop for its compelling, if sometimes unagreeable, characters but much like Transport for London it rarely allows its players to venture far off the rails.

Developed by Variable State and published by AnnaPurna Interactive, Last Stop follows the lives of three Londoners as each of them undergo changes of the supernatural variety. The overarching narrative isn’t made entirely clear from the beginning but as the stories of each character begin to overlap those connections are presented as clearly as a tube map.

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Choose Your Commuter

Screenshot from Last Stop showing a character in red-hued hallway staring at the camera.
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At the beginning of each chapter all three protagonists are seen taking the underground together on a character selection screen; John, a down on his luck single father who makes a mysterious connection with his young successful neighbour, Meena, a high flyer at a private security firm, who is desperately trying to juggle her professional aspirations with a marriage strained only further by an ongoing affair and Donna, a young teenager whose curiosity of a handsome stranger’s dealings puts her at odds with friends and family.

These three main stories are broken into six chapters each and presented as an anthology. Each story is markedly different if occasionally mired by tired tropes but the short lengths of each chapter help to space out each story so they never wear out their welcome.

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During each chapter players take control of one of these characters, piloting them across fictional boroughs of London and navigating them through dialogue trees which make up a large portion of gameplay. Occasionally, the perspective may shift to a first-person view or prompt players into a quick time event but most interactions occur through dialogue with its small but colourful cast.

The voice acting is well delivered by its cast and rarely feel out of place even for its much younger members. Conversations rarely veer away from a character’s core personality traits but more often than not, each option falls into the usual category of sincere, sarcastic or neutral which usually result in the same responses, regardless of tone.

The resolution of each player choice doesn't become immediately obvious and some of the most tangible agency provided to the player simply comes down to picking out what the characters will wear each morning.

London Calling

A screenshot from Last Stop showing a character in conversation with a female Police officer on a park bench.
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Where Last Stop really shines however is its presentation of the Big Smoke. The large 3D environments gently funnel players from A to B with smooth, linear camera pans but each street bursts at the seams with personality.

Between its juxtaposition of ultramodern developments, terraced housing and brutalist estates all in close proximity, Last Stop might not be a realistic depiction of London but it’s certainly an idealised version of it.

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Sounds Of The City

Screenshot from Last Stop showing a trio of characters in school uniform sneaking through a dark environment.
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Special attention should also be drawn to the game’s soundtrack composed by BAFTA award winner Lyndon Holland. While dialogue is very much front and centre in Last Stop’s journey, it’s carried along wonderfully by performances from the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra which help to punctuate memorable story beats and deliver some of Last Stop’s more emotional moments.

Ironically enough, Last Stop gains most of its momentum in the penultimate stages of its saga. Its final act doesn’t quite match the tonality of the three stories that lead to it but it serves enough closure that in its short runtime of 5-6 hours each story feels complete.

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Verdict

While Last Stop doesn’t give a lot of freedom to its players it creates a compelling enough story that can be enjoyed over a short playthrough. Fans of dialogue-heavy adventure games like Life Is Strange or anything from TellTale will find something here to enjoy.

3/5

Review copy provided by the publisher

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch