The GWJ Adventure Game Club - Game 18: The Last Express

The Last Express (1997)

IMAGE(https://steamcdn-a.akamaihd.net/steam/apps/252710/header.jpg)

Designed by Jordan Mechner, published by Brøderbund in 1997 for PC, the game is set aboard the Orient Express, mere days before the start of World War I. With its non linear story and real-time events, The Last Express is truly something very special with a lot of potential for replayability.

You can find the wikipedia page here, the usual spoiler warning applies. How Long to Beat estimates about 10 hours to completion. Available on Windows, Mac OS, MS-DOS, iOS, Android. If you get stuck, you can check out the Universal Hint System!

You can find the main thread over this way. We'll be playing The Last Express in April 2020, with an extra month should anyone require it.

Never played this one before. What would people say is the best way to play it currently? It looks like the original is available on GOG, there is a "Gold Edition" on Steam, and it is also available on mobile.

EDIT: I just found you can get it for only $1.99 in this bundle.

Pink Stripes wrote:

Never played this one before. What would people say is the best way to play it currently? It looks like the original is available on GOG, there is a "Gold Edition" on Steam, and it is also available on mobile.

EDIT: I just found you can get it for only $1.99 in this bundle.

Thanks for posting this. I was thinking I'd give this a try but I was too miserly to pay full price for it. But $2? Sweet! I just picked up the bundle.

Awesome! Thanks for looking into it. I don't really have any advice on the platform, unfortunately. I played it on PC, myself. Years back.

I forgot to repost Rob Zacny's article about the game (some spoilers).

Okay, that was quick. I lost about five minutes in. Lolz. No idea what I'm doing, or who is who, or why I just lost.

Will try again.

Okay, a bit of progress, Chapter 2 now, and managed to lose the game a few different ways. Still much confusion, but now 80% instead of 100%.

Godzilla Blitz wrote:

Okay, that was quick. I lost about five minutes in. Lolz. No idea what I'm doing, or who is who, or why I just lost.

Alright then... I think it's time for me to come clean.

Full disclosure, folks, this is exactly why I bounced off the game way back when, and why I didn't get along with it. It's also why I don't plan any playing along with the group. I apologize and realize this means I'm probably missing out on what people say is an incredible game, but... I'll be honest, between the long hours at the hospital and the kids, I don't have it in my to throw myself into it repeatedly.

I'm sorry and if you all want to stage a coup because of it, then... Fair warning, I'm going to go down swinging.

Ok, installed. Will report back on my first few tries...

Ermm, so that was an experience. Played about 15 mins and things got dark quickly...

I'm not sure if you have any choice as I haven't started again to check but did anyone else:

Spoiler:

just throw their dead friend out of the train window like there clearly was nothing else to do, like , I don't know, check he's dead or call for help!

(this spoiler relates to something that can happen when you first go to find your friend in his carriage in the first few minutes of the game)

I'm somewhat intrigued.

I started playing yesterday. Lost in a couple of different ways but made it until the end of chapter 3.

Do I understand correctly that there is a sort of time limit in the sense that I need to solve the mystery before the train arrives at a certain destination in order to "beat" the game? That seems rough. Also, the interface has not aged particularly well but it does feel like a really interesting game. It is halfway between a classic point-and-click game and a Myst-like first person adventure.

Shymlark wrote:

Ermm, so that was an experience. Played about 15 mins and things got dark quickly...

I'm not sure if you have any choice as I haven't started again to check but did anyone else:

Spoiler:

just throw their dead friend out of the train window like there clearly was nothing else to do, like , I don't know, check he's dead or call for help!

(this spoiler relates to something that can happen when you first go to find your friend in his carriage in the first few minutes of the game)

I'm somewhat intrigued.

Spoiler:

I threw him out the window by accident. I've done a number of things like that. I think I'm going to take a look out the window and the next thing I know I've climbed out of the train and hanging on to the side for dear life.

There is an achievement I spotted that indicates you can "store" your friend somehow, but I'm not sure how that works. Pulling the train alarm to alert the authorities ends the game, you lose.

Pink Stripes wrote:

I started playing yesterday. Lost in a couple of different ways but made it until the end of chapter 3.

Do I understand correctly that there is a sort of time limit in the sense that I need to solve the mystery before the train arrives at a certain destination in order to "beat" the game? That seems rough. Also, the interface has not aged particularly well but it does feel like a really interesting game. It is halfway between a classic point-and-click game and a Myst-like first person adventure.

This is a good question. I'm not sure, but I don't get a sense there is a time limit. However, it sounds like you can fork off onto a dead end that will make it very hard or downright impossible to win. So if you make a wrong choice when the opportunity arises or don't do something quite right, time goes on, and well, too bad for you.

You can always go back, but it sounds like sometimes you have to go back quite a ways to rectify what seemed at the time to be a harmless decision.

This spoiler-free review is an interesting read about the game.

This is one I've only tried for about 5 minutes. I missed it originally and then picked it up after listening to this excellent Three Moves Ahead podcast about the game. Maybe it's time to give it another chance.

Okeydoke. Played less than 15 minutes before my first game over.

Some thoughts:
- There's gotta be a way to change that resolution. Playing in that tiny window takes some real getting used to.
- The animation of people is decidedly less fluid than I always expected. It reminds me of Hotel Dusk in a few ways, if Hotel Dusk occasionally went into smooth animation for seconds at a time. Less sketch-like as well, obviously.
- I never really got into Myst-like games, so moving through the environment is currently challenging and at times confusing.
- The setting intrigues me, and looking at that pre-WWI map has me longing to experience it all. Loving the early immersion via the different languages. Not quite sure what's going on, so I hope that will become at least a bit clearer soon.

AUs_TBirD wrote:

Okeydoke. Played less than 15 minutes before my first game over.

Some thoughts:
- There's gotta be a way to change that resolution. Playing in that tiny window takes some real getting used to.
- The animation of people is decidedly less fluid than I always expected. It reminds me of Hotel Dusk in a few ways, if Hotel Dusk occasionally went into smooth animation for seconds at a time. Less sketch-like as well, obviously.
- I never really got into Myst-like games, so moving through the environment is currently challenging and at times confusing.
- The setting intrigues me, and looking at that pre-WWI map has me longing to experience it all. Loving the early immersion via the different languages. Not quite sure what's going on, so I hope that will become at least a bit clearer soon.

- I thought mine was running in nearly full screen, not sure though. I don't remember it being tiny, though. I suppose that doesn't help much, other than, "Yes, I think there is a way to fix the resolution."

- The animation was causing me ... issues. I kept feeling like I needed to time things well, or I'd try to click on the right hot spot, but by the time I'd click the scene would have changed or something happened, or I didn't click in the right place, or I clicked on the wrong thing and something else unintended happened. I think if I played more I'd make more sense of things.

I've been playing a few hours now, and really enjoying it. It's a game I've always intended to get around to after watching a roommate of mine play some of it in college, and I've just passed the point where either he gave up or I quit paying attention. Anyway, I feel like it's been rewarding my time with solid characters and interesting goings on. Unfortunately I've hit a rather annoying bug with a phantom inventory item that blocks some interactions and won't go away despite not technically being in my inventory anymore. I haven't yet managed to rewind far enough back to see if I can resolve it.

Well, I had all but abandoned the idea of sinking another 30+ minutes into trying to get around my bug, but after having a couple of conversations about it with different people, I just couldn't leave it be. Turns out that I was stuck with a bogus inventory state when really I should have gotten a hard fail state, which became clear when I came up with the correct solution. Still, an obnoxious bug.

At any rate, I ended up finishing over the weekend, and overall I was very happy with my experience. This game hit a sweet spot for me, not wholly unexpectedly, but still in a way that took me by surprise. Maybe I was just secretly longing for a different twist on the old locked-room murder on the Orient Express, focusing a bit more on historical context. Though I do have to say that the action sequences were as terrible as you'd expect.

Oh wow. I'm so glad you still enjoyed it, Benign1, despite all the bumps in the road! That's so great, I'm very glad for you!!!