Last Train Home Review – It Sucks (In a Good Way)

Last Train Home humbled me. It was difficult and unforgiving. And yet, it's exactly those characteristics that made it feel authentic.

Hristijan Pavlovski
Hristijan Pavlovski - Content Writer
12 Min Read
Last Train Home
Last Train Home Screenshot
8 Great
Review Overview

I’ll be the first to say it. Last Train Home sucks but in a good way. It’s the type of suck that’s a core part of the experience. The game is remarkably difficult and unforgiving, but in being so, it portrays the experiences of the real-life Czechoslovak Legion perfectly. It’s also an incredibly rich game, both in story and gameplay alike. Let’s take a look at what the game has to offer in my Last Train Home review.

The (Semi) Realistic Story of Last Train Home

Intro Scene 1
Intro Scene I

The Last Train Home is a semi-fictional retelling of the experiences of the Czechoslovak Legion in WW1. For those who are uninitiated, here’s a quick history lesson on who the Czechoslovak Legion were.

The Czechoslovak Legion was a military unit in WW1 primarily comprised of volunteer Czech and Slovak fighters. As you may already know, at that time, Czechoslovakia (or what would later be known as Czechoslovakia) was under the rule of Austria. Thus, the Czechoslovak Legion’s primary goal was the independence of their country, as such, they fought on the side of the Entente.

Intro Scene 2
Intro Scene II

The Czechoslovak Legion would eventually have their wish fulfilled, as on the 28th of October, 1918, Czechoslovakia would be formed. This was a monumental achievement for the Czechoslovak Legion. All they had to do now was get home and pop open the bottles of champagne, except for one teeny-weenie problem.

That problem was the fact that they were stuck in the middle of Russia, while a civil war was brewing. With their path Westward blocked, the Legionnaires had to go Eastward to Vladivostok, from where they could take a boat ride home. Their path Eastward is what historically happened. However, the micro-decisions you make along the way are entirely yours. I.e. fictional.

For The Love of God, Play Your First Campaign on Road Trip

Difficulty Preset
Difficulty Preset

Last Train Home offers quite an extensive Difficulty Preset at the start of the campaign. Here’s some advice. Don’t be a fool like me, and play your first campaign on Road Trip mode. I know that there’s quite a stigma in the gaming community about playing games on Easy. Phrases like: ‘You’re not a real gamer if you play on Easy mode.”

To that, I say: “What’s the point of playing a game if you constantly have to restart?” Which is exactly what I had to do, and quite a few times mind you. So, after having learned my lesson. I swallowed my pride and lowered the difficulty across the board.

I don’t actually mind the difficulty. If anything, it makes the game feel more authentic. The real-life events by which the game is inspired by were anything but a road trip. It was a grueling and soul-crushing ordeal. The game being difficult actually helps you connect and relate with the struggles that the men and women of the Czechoslovakian Legion faced in real life.

The Survival Aspect of Last Train Home

Last Train Home World Map
Last Train Home World Map

Last Train Home’s gameplay is basically divided into two parts. It has a survival aspect and a tactical aspect. The survival aspect covers how you manage and run your train, as well as the mission on which you send your crewmates. Oh, and on top of all that, you also have to manage your resources as well. Or else it’s game over.

This is honestly the most difficult part of the game and the one I struggled with the most. Resources are exceedingly scarce. Throw in the random negative events that happen every now and then, as well as the RNG system that the game runs on, and you’re basically forced to scrape the barrel 24/7.

Soldier Overview
Soldier Overview Screen

There are however a few constants in this storm of chaos that relieve some of the tension. Each crewmate has their own unique set of traits and skills that will benefit you in a certain situation while hampering you in another. Additionally, each crewmate has a health, stamina, and morale bar that you have to monitor. If any of these get too low it’s game over.

Later on, the temperature also comes into play. If you constantly send your crewmates out into the colds of Siberia they’ll freeze to death. To counter that, you need to install some heating and insulation in your train compartments. However, the caveat is that the heating also uses the same fuel that powers the train which basically puts you in a neverending loop of scarcity.

The game basically wants to teach you one lesson, and it wants you to learn that lesson very well. You’re going to suffer, a lot! It’s impossible to min-max and optimize everything. You’re almost certainly going to suffer losses and make some mistakes while paying Last Train Home. All you can do in those situations is learn to live with your mistakes.

The Tactical Aspect of Last Train Home

Combat Engagement 1
Combat Engagement I

If you’ve played Company of Heroes before, you’re probably already familiar with Last Train Home’s tactical system too. Just with a few alterations. In essence, the game has the terrain/cover system of Company of Heroes, but with some mechanics from XCOM intermingled here and there.

Unlike Company of Heroes, which sometimes tends to feel a bit bullet-spongy, Last Train Home is very unforgiving. It only takes one stray bullet to knock your soldier down. Then it becomes a race against the clock to stabilize and heal them. If not, you lose your soldier forever.

Combat Engagement 2
Combat Engagement II

This is where the stealth mechanic comes into play, which was honestly the most entertaining part of combat engagements for me. Ammunition and medicine are scarce, and you cannot and should not make every engagement a firefight. It simply isn’t feasible from a logistical standpoint. Ideally, you’d want to finish each engagement without having fired a single bullet. Easier said than done, however.

Thankfully, certain roles excel at stealth. The Rifleman, the Scout, and the Grenadier to be specific. With the right perks and skills unlocked, you can make your very own special forces unit. Now if only night-vision goggles were a thing in 1918. Regardless. Any encounter finished with more resources gained than resources spent is a successful encounter.

When Upgrading, Always Plan Three Steps Ahead

Train Upgrades
Train Upgrades

I’ll reiterate. Resources are scarce in Last Train Home. Because they are so scarce, you absolutely have to plan 3 steps ahead. Dumping all your resources into a single thing is rarely the right course of action, even if the said thing you are upgrading appears beneficial superficially. This is applicable both to train upgrades and crewmate upgrades.

Upgrades in this game aren’t “an improvement from the baseline.” They’re more along the lines of “slowly climbing up from rock bottom.” No matter how much resources you invest into a specific thing, you’ll never quite feel satisfied with its performance in the end. That is why it’s generally better to spread the resources across a lot of little things, rather than one big thing.

The Things I Liked About Last Train Home

Victory Screen
Victory Screen

Last Train Home is a very specific type of game. And in my opinion, it has more positives than negatives. The thing that left the biggest impression on me is the story and the way it is portrayed, be it through the in-game dialogue or the live-action cutscenes. The narration itself was amazing, as it really helped me immerse myself in the story and the world.

Another thing that I liked was the difficulty of the game. It made the whole experience feel that much more authentic. Each mechanic is designed to test you. Each decision carries with it a small respite or a severe punishment. It’s the type of gameplay that humbles you and forces you to respect the game, or else!

The Things I Didn’t Like About Last Train Home

Event Scene
Event Screen

The only real major gripe I have with Last Train Home is the performance issues that I experienced the first time I got into the game. I was hit with a major frame rate drop and hellish lag that made the game unplayable. However, this could be the result of a variety of factors. Maybe my gear is old, maybe because I was playing on a review build, or maybe it’s just drivers acting up.

Whatever it is, it’s worth noting. Funnily enough, once I got out of the game and booted it up again in DirectX 12 mode, all the problems disappeared.

Closing Remarks & Final Verdict

Last Train Home Intro Scene 3
Intro Scene III

All in all, Last Train Home is a really enjoyable game, albeit a bit niche, and it’s definitely not for everyone. If you like survival/management games with a tactical element, you’ll have an absolute blast with it, however, if you’re a casual gamer who likes to hop into a game to blow off some steam, then I’m sorry to say but this isn’t the game for that.

It isn’t a dopamine injection that many modern games are. Rather, it’s a piece of art that tries to convey an experience to you, and in that regard, it does so perfectly. If you’re willing to invest the time and patience to play through the Last Train Home, I believe that it will fundamentally change you on a deeper level, and, that is what games should be about.

What did you think of our review of Last Train Home? Share what you think about it in the comments below.

This review is based on the PC version of Last Train Home. The key was provided by Indigo Pearl and SEGA.

Last Train Home Screenshot
Review Overview
Great 8
Great 8
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By Hristijan Pavlovski Content Writer
Bachelor of Philosophy and Content Writer. In my free time, I also write fantasy short stories and the odd philosophy book here and there. I’m also an avid fan of strategy games and RPGs.
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