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Scratching the Itch

Last Train Home

In the space of a few screens and conversations, Last Train Home builds up a threatening aura and pays it off with a tropey, but effective finale.

It’s dark. The sound of the train lulls you into a mode of complacency, waiting for your stop, but you know something is wrong. The carriages are eerily quiet. The passengers are in a purgatory-like state. It feels familiarly like a train home and that’s the trap.

Last Train Home was made for MiniJam 47 by hby. For a maker who only has a few games under their belt this is a great achievement.

Your interaction with the game is simple, you move left and right through the train cars and talk to people with ‘x’. Most elements of the game are solved through fetch quests where one NPC will have the item that another needs.

Your control of the character, as is common in horror games, is a central part of the horror. You move slowly and you’re only armed with simple interaction. If posed with a threat then your arsenal to deal with that is within that very limited and very human frame.

The atmosphere is a clear stand out, however. The sounds of the train are perfect. The movement of the screen keeps you with the movement of the carriage in a way that theatre students bobbing in unison could only dream of.

The game is a well contained entity, the build up perfectly paced for the unravelling pay-off at the end. The pay-off itself is part predictable and part surprising, enough for me to satisfy my curiosity and fuel my fear. The ending, avoiding any spoilers, is an excellently realised moment, the simplicity of the game reaching an unexpected visual crescendo.

In around 15 minutes, Last Train Home offers an accomplished and contained narrative horror experience. Here’s hoping hby brings us more in the future.

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