Digital download service Dotemu has pulled off a bit of a coup for its 100th release, by securing the Collectors Edition of Jordan Mechner’s 1997 train mystery adventure title The Last Express.
This edition (priced at $10.00 USD / 7.50 Euros) should be fully compatible with modern PCs (Vista and Windows 7, both 32 and 64 bit) and includes the original soundtrack and a making-of video as digital bonuses. The game is also available in five languages: English, Spanish, French, German and Italian.
In The Last Express, players are on board the infamous Orient Express in July 1914, just days before the outbreak of World War One (indeed, the game itself is something of an allegory for that conflict.) Murder is afoot and it’s up to you to solve the case.
Events in the game are quite happy to carry on without the player, with all of the NPCs going about their storylines in real time. How you interact with the other train-dwellers affects their behaviour, but it’s quite possible to miss something potentially important because you were busy elsewhere. As a result, there are 34 different ways to finish the game. Thirty of those are endings representing failure.
So, it’s not the easiest game (this edition does, it should be mentioned, come with a walkthrough) – but it was way ahead of its time. Both in terms of the choice-and-consequence nature of the narrative and in the presentation of its rotoscoped animation. The Last Express may be pushing 14 years old, but the unique art style still looks pretty good today.
You can see what I mean with the images, below.