Last Stop, the upcoming supernatural narrative-driven adventure made by the developers of Virginia, features three intertwined stories about some weird and wonderful happenings around London. One follows a washed-up spy on an odd mission, another sees some school kids find a strange man with glowing eyes, and the third has body-swapping shenanigans. Each story has some dark moments, but nothing particularly scary. But the devs at Variable State tell us that wasn't always the case. During development, they had a fourth story in the mix that didn't quite make the cut, and it would've featured "Junji Ito-inspired storytelling".
"It was called Brain Freeze, and it was very dark," co-director Terry Kenny tells me. "That was the one I was really attached to, because I'm a bit of a horror buff, and I think it would've changed the tone of the game. It would've leaned into a much darker horror game. Looking at it now, I still feel bad about not having the chance to have made it, but I can see now that I don't know how it would've sat with the other stories.
"We wouldn't have gotten a teen rating, so we would've been stuffed [laughs]."
Those other stories include Stranger Danger (the one about the kids and the glowing-eye man), which is technically horror, but Kenny compares it to Stranger Things in that anyone could sit down to watch it and it wouldn't be too spooky. Then there's Paper Dolls (the body-swapping), which is more whimsical, while Domestic Affairs (the spy) is dark-ish, but still has some light moments.
"I was the one who cried for the fourth story. I don't know why, because we couldn't have managed to make four, and it didn't make sense," Kenny says. "When we cut it, I was relieved, as it was the right decision to make so we could give everything the time it deserved."
He adds that there were lots of stories to begin with, but originally just four had made the cut to be part of the anthology. The team at Variable State had been working on all four since 2017, until it became apparent that they didn't really need that many. None of the directors tell me what the story would've actually consisted of (Kenny says he'd still like to turn into a comic one day), but they do say it had some classic horror influences that I can only hope we get to hear more about in the future.
"There was some lovely imagery, and the story was fully written as well," co-director Jonathan Burroughs tells me. "There's quite a detailed version of it, with concept art and character art, and there was a lot of love for Junji Ito-inspired storytelling that would've made its way into it."
Last Stop comes out tomorrow, July 22nd, and you can find it over on Steam. It's also coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox Consoles, and we'll have a review up soon so you can see what we thought of it.