VIDEO GAMING

Game review: The Final Station breathes new life into the zombie genre

There’s always room for a fresh approach to even the most tired concept, as this post-apocalyptic, side-scrolling, eight-bit adventure shows

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2016, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2016, 1:02pm

The Final Station

Do My Best Games

4 stars

Pardon the pun, but zombies have been done to death in everything from movies and TV shows, to books and video games. Why should we even bother to review the latest zombie release? Because The Final Station is proof that no matter how hard you might milk a pop-culture concept, there’s always a fresh, new approach to take.

Set in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, The Final Station is a 2D eight-bit side-scroller in which players assume the role of a conductor of a train heading from one town to another, seeking out supplies, scrounging for weapons and generally trying to avoid the plague of the living dead that is trying to get on board and eat your brains.

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The train itself is where you’ll spend most of your time, a slow-paced, almost soothing setting where you regroup and plan your next move alongside your fellow survivors. And once you reach the next urban destination, the unique combat mode well and truly kicks in – Station has no illusions about your lead character. You’re a train conductor, not some beefcake warrior, and battles with the living dead are more like puzzles than anything else.

Zombies come in all shapes and sizes, from slow-moving mammoths to fast-paced imps, and figuring out how to manage the many undead is key to survival. That could mean balancing out melee attacks with standard shooting, but it also means utilising the varied locations to your benefit: sneaking down into the sewer, for example, or using that conveniently placed chair to decapitate a few undead.

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It helps, of course, that the various settings are uniquely dystopian, a post-apocalyptic nightmare all created in glorious eight-bit graphics. It requires true creativity to change the setting from darkened train tunnels to dilapidated towns to snow-covered villages using only limited pixel-work, and Station is one of the most exceptional in that regard.

The game has its flaws, without a doubt – an indie-developed adventure using a retro-framework and an overused concept, how could it not? It’s occasionally repetitive, characters are fairly one-dimensional and the story is really just an excuse for combat. But considering the undead adventures that flood the market on a near-monthly basis, The Final Station almost breathes new life into the zombie genre.