Last Train Home: The Long Black Train Going Somewhere Promising

Last Train Home Preview

Last Train Home is an upcoming tactical RTS (Real Time Strategy) game from developer Ashborne Games. We are given access to the alpha build of the demo via Steam, with a release date to be revealed soon. Ashborne Games, part of the THQ Nordic family, previously helped push Comanche out of Early Release alongside Nukklear Games.

Last Train Home takes place during the Russian Civil War in the midst of World War I, and tells the fictionalized story of your soldiers in the Czechoslovak Legion. An all-volunteer army, soldiers live and die by the train and how I manage it. My knowledge of World War I is limited, but Last Train Home does an excellent job of detailing the ongoing conflict you are in. The demo opens up with you in command of the train and soldiers within as they make their way to the town of Vladivostok. 

Your squad sets out from the train to scout the area for supplies. Magdalena the Medic, Antonin the Machine Gunner, Bedrich the Rifleman, and Maximilian the Scout comprise my squad for this mission. As they venture through the countryside gathering food and fuel, we stumble upon the remnants of towns, destroyed in the wake of the Red Army. 

I make my way through the farmland and various tutorials pop up to explain soldier morale, how resources are limited, and the benefits to going off the beaten path. Given the importance of resources, it is clear that exploring the map is worth your while.

In Last Train Home, you will control your squad through Iron Harvest-esque battles between managing your train as it travels from mission location to mission location.

Management Game on Steroids

Given that this is an alpha build, it is clear that the developers at Ashborne Games still have work to do. Fans of management type games will find plenty to love when Last Train Home eventually releases. The management levels are extremely in-depth; constantly balancing resources, choosing the right soldiers for the right jobs, making dialogue decisions to ensure positive morale so your troops stay on board, and so on. 

Monitoring your soldiers’ stats becomes extremely important. Turns out one of my soldiers, Josef, is a pacifist. Josef therefore became my train’s chef. Bedrich was going out on too many missions, so his energy reserves are quite low. Nothing a couple cups of coffee that were on hand wouldn’t fix.

The game ensures that you learn an important lesson early on: save, save, and then save again. This is a tip that I learned the hard way, as Magdalena the Medic had been sent to close to combat, resulting in her untimely demise.

Moving on Down the Line

The next mission directs the train to the town of Sukinichi. I continue along the train tracks. General Morozov and the Red Army demand your supplies. Naturally, you refuse. This leads to deploying a squad to the train station, where the Red Army lies in wait. Advancing their way through the town, my squad comes upon a group of Red Army soldiers embedded on top of a hill with a machine gun. Fortunately, the recently caffeinated Bedrich has a bayonet for just such a purpose. Antonin and the others provide covering fire while Bedrich charges the hill. I am positive Bedrich will not survive.

Bedrich sprints towards the fortification, runs around the back, and impales the Bolshevik with his bayonet. Bedrich, the coffee-drinking hero of my squad. The target of this mission, a repair kit to fix the bridge, is just around the bend. Unfortunately, several more Red Army troops stand between us and our goal.

Now, it’s Maximilian’s turn. I enter “silent mode” with Maximilian. I sneak up behind one, two, three soldiers. He is then able to secure the repair kit and fix the bridge.

These are just a few of the noteworthy moments during my roughly 4 hour demo experience with Last Train Home. Even in this short amount of time, I became invested in my squad and the wellbeing of my train. There is a ton of potential here.

Coming Soon

With a release date of “Coming Soon”, I eagerly anticipate Ashborne Games’ Last Train Home, and expect it to be a hit with fans of management sims and tactical RTS’ alike when it drops.