Developers from Variable State know how to come up with interesting mystical stories and present them in an unusual way – just remember their Virginia , which evoked associations with Twin Peaks and Fargo . Accepted it as a whole is good, though, and no questions asked, in particular, to the logic of the story, not done . Roughly the same thing happened with Last Stop .
Three in one
It is immediately striking that Last Stop is a modern, European, or rather British game. In the sense that it is tolerant. The sister of one of the heroines is a lesbian police officer, there is interracial sex and, in general, white and colored characters are about equally divided. However, for modern Europe, in particular for London, where the action unfolds, this is the norm. That is, the authors are not promoting anything, but fixing the fact. And in general, the plot is not about that.
This game is not for children.
Last Stop tells three stories that intersect at some point, and at the end they merge together. One is about the bald and fat single father John, who, against his will, swapped bodies with his young neighbor Jack. In another, we play as schoolgirl Donna, who discovered a strange person – people disappear in his house. She and her friends tracked him down and locked him in the pool. Finally, the third story is about the careerist and cheater Mina, who works in a private military campaign, who studies the nature of the mysticism that is happening in the game.
And there is enough mysticism here.
But Last Stop is not about mysticism, but about people and their lives, about relationships in the family, at work, with others. John, who recently had a heart attack, is raising an adorable eight-year-old daughter alone, sympathetic to a colleague and hates his boss. Mina is actually exchanging her husband and son for work and lover.
Mina is also lying to her father.
And Donna, in addition to the typical teenage worries (the boys she likes, and the girlfriends from whom these boys can be taken away) also have a sick mother and sister, who bother her with her excessive care.
Here there was a place for family drama, and for tragedy, and even almost for comedy – there are ironic dialogues, situations and apt sketches from modern life. For example, the young man Jack, John’s neighbor, with whom they swapped bodies, works in the gaming industry.
This story is the funniest, but it also has some drama.
It’s funny to see how a single father in the body of a 20-year-old developer went to someone else’s job, where he had to give assignments to people working on AI in a weird game. And when the boss starts talking about unpaid crunches, our hero just explodes with indignation. It is from this combination of humor, drama, mysticism and real life with its problems that the charm of Last Stop is formed .
The heroes will meet under very strange circumstances.
According to the precepts of Tellale Games
In Virginia, everything was subordinate to the story and atmosphere, and there was almost no gameplay. In the new game Variable State, the gameplay is felt more dense, but its task is the same – to stand aside and not particularly interfere with us immersed in the plot.
Basically, everything is in the spirit of Tellale Games – the choice of lines in dialogues and QTEs. Moreover, the latter are very simple: you need, for example, to repeat a given sequence of buttons without much haste or to stop the cursor in a certain area.
The hardest part is pressing, reading and selecting at the same time.
But there are a lot of QTEs – with their help we have breakfast, stealth, and play the piano.
In addition, in the episodes behind Mina, there are elements of a primitive quest. Once we put together a puzzle from broken dishes, once we put the books on the shelves correctly, once with a first-person view (and the rest of the game takes place from the third) we explore the rooms, looking for evidence and passwords from the laptop. In addition, Mina often needs to assess the level of threat posed by a person, or his emotional / physical state.
The game here does everything for you, but it still looks interesting.
It is clear that someone would like more tension and sharpness from the gameplay, but from the point of view of an exclusively narrative project, everything is fine.
What is really annoying is the need to make frequent and slow passes through locations, when in fact nothing but dialogue is happening. And they are allowed to go running only according to the plot. The chapters themselves for each character are short – to maintain the rhythm of the narrative. But these unhurried walks break the rhythm.
Sometimes it’s not entirely clear where to go.
Some may find the graphic style and animation controversial. But I, on the contrary, saw in this my charm, interesting in its own way – this was what Virginia was also different .
The game is very beautiful in places.
Everything is like in the TV series
It combines Last Stop with the adventures of Telltale and the fact that there are always situations of choice. Mina will agree to take a walk with her son or not; whether she will tell her husband the truth or will lie again about the business trip; how John in Jack’s body will behave and respond in an interview – in fact, the whole game consists of similar dilemmas.
Another thing is that the real consequences come even less often than Tellale . In fact, we make the most important decisions at the very end, and they determine one of two endings for each character.
The time to choose is also limited here.
In addition, as in Virginia , there are questions to the story itself, or rather, to the logic of some actions and situations. Why does the girl, noticing how her friend is actually kidnapped by a mysterious stranger, does not tell anyone about it and does not react in any way, although a minute after that she speaks with their mutual friend, and then with the kidnapper himself? How can schoolchildren keep a person in a swimming pool in London (not in some village!) For so long and no one notices?
And why do the heroes react surprisingly calmly when they see such characters for the first time?
It can spoil the impressions, although in general there is nothing critical – I had more complaints about Virginia . The main thing here is that you still continue to play and watch – the story is addictive.
The virtual operator knows how to choose angles.
Last Stop is, in spite of everything, a fun interactive series that even has something of The Longest Journey . It is dynamic and well-presented. It will not work to watch only one story inside and out – they alternate all the time, and the intrigue remains until the very end. Each hero goes through his own path of development and changes in one way or another. And our decisions at the end show what conclusions the characters have come to.
Pros: three fascinating stories, united by common mystical events; interesting characters that develop in the course of the plot; competent direction; stylish picture in its own way; expressive voice acting.
Cons: not everyone will like the fact that the gameplay does not pose difficult tasks; there are questions about the logic of some plot situations; in places clumsy animation.