The Last Express is a video game from the mid-nineties. The point-and-click adventure takes place in 1914, shortly before the outbreak of World War One in Europe.
The Orient Express departs from Paris with American Doctor Robert Cath onboard. As the train trundles towards its destination of Constantinople a mysterious tale of murder unfolds on board.
It isn’t long before he becomes entwined in the plot. The original video game (from the creators of Prince of Persia) won dozens of awards. Now, DotEmu have ported the classic to Android for our enjoyment. It costs €3.59 in the Play Store – a bit steep, if you ask me.
Your first task is to move around the train and to converse with fellow passengers. Initially unaware of any murders or wrongdoing, this part of the game serves as an introduction to the controls.
As a point-and-click port from PC the controls are antiquated and feel unnatural on an Android touch screen device. To move around the train you simply click the arrows which appear on screen. Pressing forward will move the Doctor forward a few feet.
People and objects can be interacted with by clicking on them – often bringing up further controls for action movements.
The story itself doesn’t unfold in a linear fashion. It’s up to you to move around the train and discover new nuggets of information or to discover crime scenes.
You can also alter how thing will pan out by deciding to hide bodies or act on certain information provided by passengers and railway staff.
As things progress the action begins to heat up with devastating consequences.
As this game was originally developed in the mid-nineties the graphics are nothing special. Even the animation must rely on old style frame by frame cut-scenes, like a slow loading GIF. For example, a cut scene may show you dumping a body from the moving train. Instead of a clean-cut video file we’re given five or six images played in sequence to show us what’s going on.
Aside from the cut-scenes, the graphics are not very textured with most surfaces containing only one or two colours. Nevertheless, it’s easy to see where you’re going.
Thankfully, the original developers paid attention to detail so characters and scenery are vivid and look well given the limitations of the time. They also styled furniture and the train decor in beautiful period decor.
Sounds are minimal and normally just sound bites to go along with actions in the cut-scenes. Dialogue and clues are mostly in written form (such as letters, signs and so on). A great aspect of this game is its historical settings. You often overhear conversations between passengers about politics, the threat of war or them making fun of you behind your back, thinking you can’t understand their language.
Overall I really enjoyed The Last Express. I had never played the original version so this was my first experience of the game. I note that many people are complaining about the graphics. I think allowances have to be made in cases such as this. This game was an outstanding success.
The attention to detail in the environment, the extensive storyline and the multi-layered plot reveal system is awesome. It’s a very entertaining game with excellent retro charm.
The controls can be troublesome but other than that I think it’s an excellent port for Android.