Game Title: Last Stop
- Nintendo Switch (Jul 22, 2021)
- PC (Jul 22, 2021)
- PlayStation 5 (Jul 22, 2021)
- Xbox Series X/S (Jul 22, 2021)
- Xbox One (Jul 22, 2021)
- PlayStation 4 (Jul 22, 2021)
Developer: Variable State
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
The latest narrative adventure from the makers of Virginia explores characters who have to balance their daily lives amidst supernatural events, but it doesn't fully live up to its potential.
Ultimately, Last Stop presents itself as a pleasant experience, able to offer interesting things to consider on the reasons that can push a human being to give a turn to his existence. Despite an extremely pleasant rhythm and many twists and turns, the narrative of Variable State, however, fails to really leave its mark on the heart of the player who, thanks to the manifestation of real alternative tracks only at the end of the game, ends up not feeling too much empathy with John's actions, Meena and Donna.
Last Stop blends classic British humor, the contrast of human mundanity, and the chaotic nature of the supernatural flawlessly
Variable State rejects one-hit-wonder status with its long-awaited follow-up, Last Stop, a game that feels equal parts arthouse and blockbuster.
Last Stop tells a story so compelling, so wonderfully told, that you’ll be glued to the screen for the entirety of its six-or-so hour running time. With an incredibly high standard of voice talent on board, sublime art direction and an outstanding soundtrack, it sets a new standard for interactive narration. This is more than a video game, it’s a work of art. And once you’ve played it, it’s one you won’t be forgetting about in a hurry.
Last Stop does a decent job of hooking you into its story, but the ending lets it down. The journey of characters is more enjoyable than where it ends up.
Last Stop may succeed when it comes to delivering a (mostly) engrossing set of stories, but it suffers from a notable lack of substance when it comes to gameplay, with several moments of interactivity feeling like they were included solely only to draw things out.
Last Stop tells three interesting stories, but lacks enough meaningful choices or consequences to create investment in its drama.
A smart, funny, heartfelt narrative game that tells a killer story, but doesn't do much beyond that.
Neither lengthy nor particularly interactive, Last Stop succeeds on the strengths of its writing, narrative, and characters.
But the lack of significant choices coupled with the game's awkward structure makes it challenging to get immersed into it. There are three solid experiences contained in Last Stop, and if separated into their own games they could probably all carry the impact they were intended to. Together, though, they come across as competing for the player's attention without adding up to a singular whole.
Overall, Last Stop is something of a mixed bag. At its best it's an enjoyable and immersive narrative adventure game, and Paper Dolls is definitely a good enough story strand to have carried the game on its own had it been expanded. However, the different quality of its three stories, and the awkward narrative shift in its final chapter, does mean that Last Stop feels a little like a missed opportunity when all is said and done, and a good game that could've been excellent with just a bit more content and some tighter scripts.
Last Stop feels like a glorified interactive cutscene, though a cutscene I was eager to continue watching. It's just unfortunate that the gameplay comes across as an interruption rather than anything that lifts the experience.
Eventually, each story hurriedly resolves itself, foregoing tidy lessons or ironic endings but still lacking that crucial, elusive sense of lived-in authenticity. For as much effort has clearly gone into voicing and animating these characters within their 3D environments, we never spend enough time to seem like we really know them; quirks of the game’s strict linearity ensure we remain at a distance, observing relationships that are otherwise too thinly sketched to sustain the game’s emotional ambitions. Last Stop eventually arrives at an all-too-familiar game-design destination, hamstrung by its attempts at verisimilitude.
When it comes down to it, Last Stop is an entertaining journey that just goes completely off the rails in its final half, failing to execute on the interesting ideas it comes up with at the start. I know that endings shouldn’t take away from the ride, but when you’re playing a title that is almost completely narrative and character-driven, I just couldn’t help but feel a letdown when credits rolled.
It’s a structure that ensures different perspectives and voices carousel in and out with pleasing regularity, but also in accordance with your mood. It works to intertwine three stories that are differently enjoyable — Meena’s is the most interesting character study, Donna has the most captivating mystery, John is primarily the comic relief — playing them off each other to make them that much more gripping than they would be alone. Variable State may still not have found the perfect interactive formula for its cinematic talents, but until it does “Last Stop” remains a moderate success.
Last Stop takes a lot of risks, and for the most part, it succeeds. It's a game about interconnectivity in a modern world, but a few flaws keep it from rising to the heights it wants to.
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