#356 The Last Express

Posted: 28th December 2010 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

13th game played so far

Genre: Adventure
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 1997
Developer: Smoking Car Productions
Publisher: Brøderbund

“The best game nobody ever played”, a commercial failure, and yet it’s found in the book. What’s up with that? Well, The Last Express is an adventure game that takes place in real-time. You’re Doctor Cath, who’s been asked to help out with a secret sort of mission on the Orient Express.

The characters all have their own schedules and interaction and life goes on regardless of what you do – although your actions do influence this. The graphics are based on live recordings, edited to create animation that suit the game’s atmosphere.

In other words, a special game.

Our Playthrough

We’ve done our best to play through the game. We’ll see how we do with the game, but with some luck we’ll make it quite far through the puzzles, enjoying the environment at the same time.

Our Thoughts

Here’s to the first game on the list (other than Peggle) that we actually completed *raises glass*. Cheers! Cheers! Yeah, and an interesting one too, very immersive. (forgot about Bayonetta… but I only completed it after posting it.) Yeah, the second completed while actually playing it for the blog, rather than afterwards.  Not that it’s a simple game. Quite the opposite really.

The time-dependent events, people living their lives on the train around you while you try to solve the mystery and the sometimes quite devious solutions make it interesting and quite complex at times. And makes you wonder what does and does not happen. Exactly, the great thing about it IS that you could be extremely lazy and sit in your cabin and do nothing whilst murders, bombings and concerts go on around you. You really have to get stuck in. Not entirely true, as the police event shows, you need to get out. Granted… the only time in geek history where hiding in the toilet is not to escape the local bullies… That depends on your definition of bullies and your overall experience. Yeah (Never have)

I love the complex storyline involved, it shows a true love of history. And that alone makes it replayable, as a second playthrough might be welcome to help you understand more of what’s going on. That’s one of the issues with everything being so time sensitive. You feel that you need to speed through things in order to get everything done that you need to do. Yeah, even though the pacing allows you to take your time anyway. Further helped by the ability to rewind the clock whenever you want incase you missed something. Yeah, up to a point. It’s easy to catch up if you have to.

Something else is the art and animation. The procedure is interesting and worth reading up on in other places, such as Wikipedia. It’s when you get to certain cut scenes (or when people pass you in the corridors) that it looks really impressive, especially when you consider it was all rotoscoped. Yeah, It looks nice and works really well for the game and it has been a lot of work.

The budget for this game was huge, in part because of the art, for the time… and for the number of games sold. So much so that is basically bankrupted the studio. Yeah, apparently only 100 000 games were sold, on a development cost of a few million (6 million, it’s rumoured). Kinda sad really. There is one thing bankrupting yourself with shit… but not with a really impressive title. Yeah, it should’ve done better with the game’s quality.

I’d love to be able to play more games like this. Since we have a lot of adventure games to cover I am sure that your adventure itch will be scratched… unlike my beat ’em up itch… which is yet to be tackled. I’m sure we’ll get to many more of those. While there will be more adventure games, one as complex like this, with the amount of work and AI that has gone into this, including all the possible interactions that take place and can take place, will not be as common. I think the closest we’ll get is that fantastic Gregory Horror Show… which is like this if it was set in a haunted hotel with strange anime animals. That sounds like it will be a great deal of fun! 🙂 Just remember it’s a Survival Horror Adventure 😉

Final Thoughts

The game itself plays like a thriller made in the 1940s (unsurprisingly there are rumours of a film adaptation) and does make you feel like one of those old fashioned heroes in the Alfred Hitchcock style. Although point and click adventures are not usually my cup of tea this somehow ticked all the right boxes. It is just such a pity this was not a big success at the time… it could have been the beginning of a rather promising series.

  1. […] how much fun they were included the RPG Baldur’s Gate II (I can just hear Jeroen cheering), The Last Express and the addictive strategy game […]

  2. […] forgotten anything) – assuming you realised what went wrong. A problem we also had with The Last Express so we got fed up and used a walkthrough for […]

  3. […] stands out about the game are the animations. Rotoscoped (yeah, an early version of what The Last Express did – it’s almost a Broderbund trademark), the lead character’s animations are […]