Need to know
What is it? A magical realism adventure game set in London.
Expect to pay TBC
Developer Variable State
Publisher Annapurna Interactive
Reviewed on RTX 2080 Super, Intel i7-9700K, 16GB RAM
Link Official site (opens in new tab)
Last Stop is a game about extraordinary things happening to ordinary people. Set on the streets of London, it follows four very different characters whose unremarkable lives are suddenly touched by the supernatural. It’s an offbeat mix of the mundane and the fantastic, where one minute you’re making a cup of tea, and the next you’re tumbling through a portal into another dimension. It’s also one of the most authentic depictions of Britain I’ve seen in a videogame—a realistic, understated setting that makes those moments when things turn magical seem extra uncanny.
Developed by Variable State, the studio behind minimalist detective adventure Virginia, Last Stop is a linear, tightly scripted narrative game. You tell the characters what to say in conversations, occasionally move them through heavily choreographed scenes, and not much else. In this sense, as a game, it’s very limited in scope. The interaction is minimal and, in most cases, largely meaningless—to the point where I wish I could just sit and enjoy the story without having to lift the controller and pointlessly rotate an analogue stick to make a character scoop cereal out of a bowl with a spoon.
(Image credit: Variable State)
I just wish there was more to it. The QTE-style interactions feel clumsily bolted on, and I never got the sense that I was actually controlling the characters—just triggering the next canned animation. There’s no tactile feeling to the interactions, whether you’re tapping the bumpers to sprint or rotating a stick to stir a mug of tea. The convincingly lived-in, cluttered environments look great, but you never get a chance to explore them to dig out more details about the story or characters. Jack’s bedroom is full of stuff I want to read and pick up, but all I can do is walk dutifully to the next scene trigger. This makes the world feel disappointingly static, despite being rich with keenly observed details that will be particularly familiar to anyone who’s ever lived in the UK.
Last Stop is one of the least satisfying narrative games I’ve played in terms of the mechanics underpinning everything. It’s really basic stuff, even compared to early Telltale games, where you at least got the chance to snuffle around the environments for extra flavour. But everything else—the engaging plot, the stylish presentation, the natural-sounding voice acting, the snappy direction, the sublime orchestral score—are all superb. So it’s a tough one, really. If you’re expecting an interactive, malleable narrative that your actions impact on, you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re happy just to be told an entertaining story in a realistic depiction of contemporary London, with a little spooky magic sprinkled in, there’s a lot here to love. Just brace yourself for that ending.