Rejection, sadly, isn’t an unfamiliar story to most of us in some unfortunate shape or form. In Next Station, you play as a seventeen year old boy dealing with just that. Rejected by a close friend he had pined after for two years running, he wanders the train station, hoping for a second chance. All of Next Station’s choices rest in choosing where and when to get off at particular stops. Do you choose to get off at Islington St. now, or do you keep riding it along? You don’t get choices in what to say for dialogue, only where and when you’ll go places.
The custom text box proves to be this game’s most interesting feature. Like a train map, you can see where you are at a given time as indicated by the lit-up dot. Use the map to figure out how close you are to a specific point in the stations. There’s also a clock. The game ends at 3:00, giving the player a bit of a push to keep going. Aimlessly wander and you’re not going to get anything done. Keep focused. People don’t wait around forever, you know.
I’m disappointed by the lack of a main menu picture. First impressions mean a lot in the visual novel world, judging by the large number of big name industry games with flashy opening videos. While you might not be able to achieve that much, you can, at the very least, do all you can. A picture, the title, something to take away from the boring one-color background. Hell, you can even filter the fuck out of some picture in your game and make it into your main menu picture. Anything works as long as you do something. Main menus are such an overlooked part of the presentation. You might even be wondering why it matters so much. Well…it’s kind of like a book completely missing a cover. Strange. I wish the book had had a cover, seeing how it’s what I have to keep going back to whenever I end the game, close the book, or want to restart.
The music was fitting. Sad, gentle, etcetera. It’s almost dripping with loneliness, the poor music piece. It didn’t get annoying, which is surprising since it’s the only track there. Ignosco did his job here well. Too bad he missed out on a few mistakes while he was proofreading for Mr. E, Next Station’s author and game maker. Herminger St. became Hermington in one instance. When a character references another character saying, “I don’t want her to know,” Hyphen boy’s name comes up instead of whom was talking. Hyphen boy meaning the nameless main character. Also, instead of the character that was being talked about, the other girl appears. I could be missing something here, though, as that could’ve easily been interpreted as some sort of flashback for “Hyphen”.
The issue I had was that it felt more like you lucked into a few of the endings. You get off at a station, you run into an event. It’s not too hard to figure out where to go. Dialogue was good and clear. The characters were interesting enough, save for one woman you run into on the fourth ending. Actually, the whole fourth ending left me with more questions than answers, namely “what?” I didn’t get it. It seemed a little too surreal, based on everything that had happened prior to endgame. I didn’t believe a moment of it. The other endings, on the other hand, weren’t too bad.
The whole game is a little slow. Beyond the text box and Mr. E’s art, there isn’t much else visually special. Doesn’t matter too much. The story was alright, nothing too remarkable or memorable. When I closed it, I didn’t feel a draw to play through again. Everything to do with Next Station was…alright. Not bad, not amazing; nothing special. Supposedly, Mr. E might work on an updated version, complete with changing expressions for the characters and a bonus ending. Okay, that’s fine. I’m not excited or anything.
Check it out. It’s worth one play through, at the very least. Other players seemed to have liked the game a whole lot. ashogo of LSF calls the game “awesome. . . .It’s got a great awesome atmosphere, and [Mr. E built] the characters really well so that you feel for all of them.” Spiralbunny, also of LSF, says that “it didn’t feel troublesome playing it so many times [to get all the endings] though! It was fun each time!” Interesting. I can’t say I fully agree. It can be fun for about twenty minutes before it becomes forgettable. For what it had, it’s not horrible, so, shrug.