We all love a good narrative-driven game, but those with the best stories tend to have little to no gameplay, sometimes making you feel like your choices or skills make a difference when they actually don't. Does that matter when the plot is so compelling, though?
Last Stop, developed by Variable State, is a magnificent example of a game that's not about being fun or challenging; it's about keeping you on the edge of your seat with a well-written supernatural story, as you try to cope with how real these characters feel.
Meet the Commuters
As we just mentioned, Last Stop is not really "a game" but a collection of 3 stories with some common elements but very different from each other in nature. You can play them in whichever order you prefer, but you must play all 3 first chapters before moving on to the second one, and so on.
John, a middle-aged single dad with a mediocre job and life, is the protagonist of "Paper Dolls," a good old body switch story. "Domestic Affairs" stars Meena, a methodic woman who's obsessed with her job but feels threatened by a new, younger colleague. The third story, "Stranger Danger," features Donna, a rebellious teenager who, along with her 2 friends, ends up kidnapping a stranger by mistake.
Gameplay is Just an Accessory
Playing Last Stop doesn't feel like "playing," so it's better to take it as a series of interactive short movies. Very British short movies. Not only do these tales take place in London, but the whole cast—who did a splendid job—makes you believe everything in the game could be happening around the corner if you were to live in the UK.
Like every other narrative adventure, you can walk and interact with specific items. Still, the real deal is deciding how your character reacts to other people's words. With 4 dialogue options, you can role-play as a mean person who hates life or someone who just goes with the flow, for example, and yet it all feels like there are no wrong choices.
Is This a Game or a Mirror?
Last Stop is a game you can finish in around 5 hours, but that doesn't mean it's not complex. In fact, all 3 stories are full of unexpected twists. As you can imagine, decision-making is what ultimately moves the plot forward, but we were truly shocked to see how realistic and relatable most situations are despite being part of a supernatural scenario. Take John's part, for instance: how many of you actually hate your jobs or feel bullied and mistreated by your coworkers? How many of you actually fear leading a boring life and secretly envy a friend or neighbor who's much cooler than you? And don't get us started on transferring your own fears and misfortunes to your kids...
That level of deepness is what sucks you in. Thankfully, however, the supernatural elements of each story are what ultimately make us enjoy the game. Don't feel too bad if you end up shedding a tear or two!
Far from being a magical story whose only objective is to distract us for a few hours, Last Stop is a philosophical experience, always throwing existential questions with no real answers at us.
To tell you how these stories intertwine or how the supernatural elements affect it would kill the game for you. The less you know before playing Last Stop, the better!
If these stories piqued your interest, Last Stop is already available on Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.