Last Stop launched last week for PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PlayStation – the latter two including native versions for the next gen consoles. We tested it on a PlayStation 5 – how did we like this modern take on the narrative adventure?
Publisher Annapurna has become a bit synonymous with strong narrative-driven experiences for us over the past two years or so. We’re really looking forward to Twelve Minutes next month, but the supernatural thriller that is Last Stop was what was high on our list of most wanted games for July thanks to a great story setup and a few excellent trailers.
In Last Stop, a mysterious portal to another world has emerged below the city of London, and players follow three separate characters and their storylines as they experience the effects of this – stories that of course eventually intersect as well. Each individual story consists of two chapters, and the storylines alternate as you progress towards the finale, for a mostly linear but entertaining experience. You can pick and choose between the three stories in terms of choosing which “act 1” you want to see first, but can’t proceed to the second act until you’ve seen all three – and the same thing applies to act 2 as well. Since the stories don’t intersect and your choices don’t affect what happens elsewhere, it’s mostly an arbitrary choice and things won’t be different on a second playthrough.
The three stories in Last Stop are titled Domestic Affairs, Stranger Danger and Paper Dolls, all of which feel distinct from one another. While one focuses on real life struggles, another focuses on the supernatural whereas the third features a Freaky Friday-like body swap. With how different the three stories are, I couldn’t wait to see how they would all come together in the final chapter, although the linear nature of the narrative does persist and it would have been nice to have more control of the outcome than we eventually get.
This linear nature becomes clear early on, when quick time events are introduced to the gameplay rather than branching dialogue choices. And while QTEs can be frustrating when you have to try them again and again, in Last Stop you can’t even mess them up and you’ll always progress anyway, making them feel pointless. I don’t know which implementation of QTEs is worse…..
Luckily, as a piece of interactive fiction Last Stop is wonderful. The storyline is constantly engaging even when the gameplay isn’t, and the visual direction of the experience is excellent as well. Between cinematic camera angles, good voice work and a fitting music track, this is a step forward in audiovisual storytelling for developer Variable State, who previously developed Virginia. If the narrative is the key element for you in an adventure game, then definitely check out Last Stop.