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Have You Played... The Last Express?

"We're the ones who will suffer. Not the politicians."

And if not, why not? Do you have any idea how many adventure games aren't terrible? I can count about four at most. And if you include all the old Lucasarts games, four.

The Last Express is the best story ever told in a game.

It's a tragic murder mystery on the last journey of the Orient Express on the eve of World War One. It's meticulously researched, fantastically written and performed, and beautifully animated. It even has multiple branches and story possibilities that play out based on where you were at any given time.

Oh, the interface is crap, and it suffers from being an adventure game and therefore having some stupid puzzles. But more thought and care went into the cultural background, perceptions, politics, and personal experiences of the bystanders on that train than go into most entire plots.

The naive Russian girl and her tragic reunion with a childhood friend, who's now a devoted anarchist to her aristocratic relic. The porters who discuss socialism and sketch people who pass through their carriage. The casual discussion of the then headline-grabbing Madame Caillaux. The generic brownhair American protagonist, who's nothing of the sort, and instead of showing off allows the arrogant Europeans to think he's just some ignorant American who couldn't possibly understand all four of the languages they're gossiping about him in. The moment where you can steal from someone right in front of him, knowing he can do nothing because polite society demands he continue playing the piano. The constant, natural political chats. Rebecca and Sophie. Rebecca and goddamn Sophie, who have nothing to do with anything, but they're there, with a whole world going on between them. And don't even ask me about that painfully beautiful ending.

The Last Express is the game in which a map can make you cry at the terrible ravages of history. It was cursed to form in an era when a publisher folding could ruin even the greatest of games. We are blessed to have it back again.

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