Variable State developers have made a big statement with the debut title Virginia. The game that won BAFTA guided the players through a story-centered journey that portrayed the narrative adventure in an original and interesting way, and it was understandably great interest in what Variable State would do next. Now that question has been answered by the study effort Last Stop.
Although Last Stop is another narrative adventure game, it is extremely different from Virginia, instead of taking the form of a supernatural sci-fi mystery in modern London divided between three different plots. There’s a Freaky Friday-style body replacement called Paper Dolls, while Domestic Affairs covers the story of an ambitious operative for a private military firm. Finally, Stranger Danger is the story of a group of teenagers who become a little too curious about their neighbor, and all three directions mix to create a wider plot.
Although the stories are different, at least they feel tonally similar. Despite the supernatural elements of Last Stop, he mostly manages to intertwine this with a more personal part of life’s focus, such as the relationship between a man and his daughter, the social troubles of a teenager and what happens when a workaholic love affair is revealed. Although Virginia sometimes felt like an extension of Twin Peaks, Last Stop feels like an episode of Doctor Who thanks to this blend of normalcy and science fiction.
However, this does not always benefit Last Stop, as each of the stories is able to cope with this change in a different way. Paper Dolls is the most successful in the group, she has never become so serious and of high conception that she takes away the real emotional connection with her sympathetic characters. Stranger Danger also works pretty well, thanks to its twists that help amplify the mystery, but Domestic Affairs are too winding to really grab the player’s attention.
The characters of Last Stop stand out to say the least, with very clear differences between the goals of each of its main protagonists. Meena’s ambition and paranoia from Domestic Affairs at least partially drives her story beyond her less interesting narrative arc, while the differences between John and Jack in Paper Dolls ensure that their body replacement story remains interesting. However, some of the supporting characters are less impressive, such as the caricature of a pig-headed office manager in the Paper Dolls story.
Last Stop then takes a big right turn for his finale, reinforcing his elements of science fiction to replace his more grounded approach. Here, all three stories merge into one, and although it is well applied from a gameplay perspective, the tonal shift is certainly inconsistent. The player is not given time to explore this new environment, making him feel rushed and a little under-done.
Part of this is due to some binary choices that the player has to make at the end of the game, which makes the film nature of the experience a little cheaper. Overall, Last Stop feels like a Telltale game, from artistic style to dialogue and QTE-based gameplay (though with the addition of lots of walking and running through the rare streets of London). However, the game is much more linear despite the divided stories and does not manage the same facade of choice that Telltale so successfully woven into the most interesting parts like The Walking Dead, partly exacerbated by this strict binary choice in the finale.
There are a few minor issues here and there. Unusual visual problems are involved, such as cutting out characters or strange hair movements, although rarely enough to get the player out of the experience. There is a more noticeable problem with some dialogue, which sometimes seems a bit simplistic, and others can feel quite debauched, especially when it comes to Stranger Danger teenagers.
In general, Last Stop is something of a mix. At its best edition it’s an enjoyable and addictive narrative adventure game, and Paper Dolls are definitely a good enough direction to perform on your own if expanded. However, the different quality of his three stories and the awkward narrative shift in the last chapter, mean that Last Stop feels a bit like a missed opportunity when everything is said and done, and a good game that could be great with just a little more content and some stricter scripts .
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Source: ITNetwork by www.itnetwork.rs.
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