There are few constants in gaming; as sure as you can be that the latest AAA game will have some nonsense microtransactions, or the newest online only game will shit the bed day one, when you see the Annapurna Interactive logo, you can be sure of a good time. And so it is with Last Stop. Following in the mold of Telltale’s excellent formula, Variable State have taken that template and improved on it in almost every way. What we’re treated to then is a thoroughly entertaining and captivating story from start to finish, presented In a fun way so as to keep things fresh.
We follow the tales of three characters; Meena, a government secret agent looking for the next big mission; Donna, a teen working her way through the trials and tribulations of dealing with family and friends at that age; and John, a single father struggling to keep on top of life. Each of these characters, as well as the supporting cast, are wonderfully acted and written, and I found myself truly attached to their stories throughout. An over-arching narrative thread binds them all together, and as we play there web of connections gets fleshed out more and more, though for the most part this is played out in the fine details such as a newspaper article, or meeting tertiary characters in later scenes.
Mainly then, we’re treated to individual scenes. Each of the six full chapters has a scene per character, and they take approximately 15-20 minutes to clear per scene, though some are a touch shorter than that. The final chapter is longer, and wraps up the tale in a satisfyingly fun way, though to say anything would obviously spoil it. We get to pick the order of the scenes, the characters riding the tube before getting off at their stop when we pick, though all three must be played before moving onto the next chapter. Before each scene we’re treated to a ‘Previously On’ cutscene, which helps keep track of what’s going on and is a great touch regardless of it we’ve just beaten the previous scene, or have come back the next day.
In game, players of any narrative adventure will be right at home. Three dialogue choices pop up frequently allowing us to put our spin on the conversations going on, though the end result of the scene generally ends up in the same ball park. Occasionally we’re tasked with walking and talking, completing a quick time event, or solving puzzles, but these are all very easy to handle and only add to the tale, rather than blocking progress or presenting a challenge. Only one section actually drags the pace down – searching an apartment in first person, it’s too easy to miss the final clue needed thanks to some sluggish camera controls. Using a mouse was much better here (I played it mostly on PC) but for the rest of the game a controller is recommended. Outside of this moment, the pace of Last Stop is spot on, and I didn’t want to put it down once I started.
Part of that was due to the story, but the setting is also fantastically realised. While the visuals have a chunky, painterly, Telltale style to them, the recreation of London is excellent. From the spot on station logos and detailing, to the hand scrawled menu on a pub chalkboard, the mix-match of architecture, and stand out, yet low-key, landmarks, Variable State have done the city proud. I have the benefit of having been to London a lot, but if you’ve not then know this is a great (though admittedly much cleaner) representation of the city. That boils over into the language used by the characters – I don’t think I’ve ever heard a game have such judicious use of the word wanker!
The score is also utterly excellent. Performed by the Prague Philharmonic, it has both an intimate feel while also exploding into massive sci-fi/action riffs at the right moments. It is yet another aspect of the game that just nails what it’s going for perfectly, and enhances the already excellent experience.
All of this adds up to a game that I enjoyed immensely. I genuinely felt attached to the plight of the characters, and wanted to see where the story went next after each cliff hanger ending – which are all masterfully done, by the way. It doesn’t seem that our dialogue choices have a massive impact on the direction for the most part, but then they allow us to add our own touch and flavour to the characters and world, which only enhances the immersion in the tale. As it is, I’d have been quite happy to just follow the story as is, so any little part I get to play just makes it that bit more enjoyable.
As narrative adventures go, Last Stop is easily one of the best I’ve played. From setting and characters, to story and presentation, it is a joy to experience from start to finish. Whether you’re a Game Pass subscriber or not, this is one title not to miss out on.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on PC (via a Game Pass Ultimate subscription). All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.