The Final Station: The Only Traitor DLC
Developer: Do My Best
Release Date: 04/19/2017
Last September, I reviewed The Final Station. It was a remarkable little game that offered up massive amounts of atmosphere despite using pixel graphics and minimalist audio design. However, the game’s story left more questions than answers. Things needed to be filled in, and more of the game’s twitch based action was always welcome. So here we are now with the first batch of DLC. Dubbed “The Only Traitor”, this two hour expansion follows the exploits of an unnamed man attempting to drive his trusty car to a shelter during the events of the base game. How does it work out, and does it give fans the answers they were looking for? Let’s find out.
Once again, you’re not filled in with a prologue or even a “last time on” when you start this game. All you know is that the infected are attacking people, and that you need to get to shelter. There are no cut scenes to watch either. Instead, the story is told through finding notes and messages left behind, through dialogue between the driver and whatever passenger is in his car, and via visual storytelling. Let’s talk about those passengers. Your car can only handle one at a time, and there’s typically one person at each stop. That means you have to pick make the choice of whether to keep the one you’ve got or swap them out. Different people will talk about different things, potentially cluing you in to what’s been going on with the world. This is neat, although there are two problems. First, you don’t have to struggle over this decision. It’s not like the ousted passenger will put up a fight or beg for their life. They just disappear. Secondly, if you want all of the information these passengers have, you’re going to have to play through the whole scenario a dozen times. All that for a couple pages of text. This will absolutely frustrate players who want to piece together the game’s story.
Where the game excels is in its visual storytelling. Like in the last game, you’ll come across derelict buildings, abandoned homes, and the remains of those that fell. Often just looking at your surroundings will clue you in to what’s been going on perfectly fine, though there’s usually a journal entry or something you can pick up to make things a bit clearer. For example, you will at one point enter a shed and find a note explaining that a neighbor needed to borrow some shovels. Open a door at the back and you’ll discover the corpse of a man inside a crude tunnel. The only thing on the man is a battered spoon. It speaks volumes.
Things have been mixed up for this DLC campaign. No longer are you on a train, no longer do you need to manage the well being of your passengers, and no longer are you hunting down codes. Instead, each level consists of you going through the area to find food, water, and gasoline. Once you have all three, you can head back to the car and leave. The levels are much larger this time around, and more dynamic as well. You can often skip past large sections or explore them for supplies and story content. As for passengers, they can only help you. They each have three traits: healing, crafting, and sociability. Their healing stat represents how much they can heal you between levels, their crafting skill reduces the amount of material you need to make bullets and health kits, and the sociability stat determines how much they have to say on the way there. Traveling between locations is thus pretty hands off. You heal, make quick crafting decisions, and then watch the dialogue play out. It’s much different.
The combat has also seen some changes. Firstly, you come equipped with a melee weapon of some sort that makes fighting without guns a bit easier. Also, you only ever get a pistol for firearms. The shotgun is history. This keeps things simple, and you don’t have to worry about switching weapons often. It’s good the campaign is short, however, as it can absolutely get repetitive. To go with these changes, there are new enemy types as well. Some infected will take a hit or two before collapsing to the ground. They will then crawl around and attempt to bite your ankles. Some will become enraged when angry, allowing them to do more damage if they hit you. The nastiest of the bunch are infected that spit a toxic goo at you. They and the only enemies that can attack at range. You’ll go through a lot more bullets trying to keep them away from you. There are also some regular human enemies. They typically charge at you with crowbars and complain about being hurt when you hit them.
While the game absolutely delves deeper into the lore of the world, it doesn’t spell things out clearly for the player. Even if you take the time to play through the game slowly and methodically, you’ll probably be left scratching your head. New questions are certainly raised thanks to this new character, and much is still left to the imagination of the player. If you get into it, you’ll find a dedicated group in forums that try to crack all of the mysteries, but if you’re only going to play it once, it could easily come off as unsatisfactory.
Short Attention Span Summary
While The Only Traitor doesn’t completely clear things up in the story department, it does make for an engaging two hour ride. The twitch combat is still fun as ever, and the collection of new enemy types raises the challenge. On top of that, the more open level design makes it feel like you’re actually exploring each location as opposed to running down a straight line. If you enjoyed The Final Station, this is easily worth the five bucks it costs to play.