The Last Express is a 1997 adventure game developed by Jordan Mechner at Smoking Car Productions, and published by Broderbund. The original release of the game came on PC, although iOS and Android versions would come years later in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
While The Last Express found plenty of praise among critics, with plenty of award nominations highlighting it as one of the best games of 1997, it was actually a massive commercial flop. The game had a huge budget of $5 million, which it never came close to recuperating.
The Last Express Premise
Set against the backdrop of the looming World War I, The Last Express places you on a moving train across Europe. Played from a first-person perspective, you must explore the train to try to solve a murder mystery. However, you’re not alone. There are plenty of others on the train, each with their own motivations. They’ll be going about their business on the train too, so it’s up to you to find out what each and every one is up to. You can speak with them and question them, but you’ve got to be careful about what you say, as it can affect your relationship.
The game has a few interesting mechanics. One is the ability to rewind time while paused, which allows you to explore other options in the story before fully committing. This results in a total of well over thirty endings. Most of these are fail states, where you are killed or arrested by the police. However, four are non-canon alternate endings, with just one proving to be the canon ending of The Last Express.
What really separates The Last Express from other games of the era is its art style. All of the characters are rotoscoped, making the animation extremely realistic even today. It gives the game an eerie quality, but as an experiment, it’s fascinating to see.
The Last Express Main Characters
The nature of the gameplay here means that the strength of the cast of characters is absolutely essential to The Last Express working as a game. Luckily, the game has a wide cast, each with their own motivations and backgrounds that make them interesting to interact with.
Because each character has a hidden motivation, it’s part of your role to figure out what is really happening on the train. If you’re a fan of mysteries, The Last Express is sure to have plenty to offer in this regard.
We’re running you through the main cast of The Last Express, so you can decide who committed the terrible murder.
The Cast of The Last Express
- Robert Cath: Robert Cath is the protagonist of The Last Express. He’s an American doctor running from the law in Ireland. When boarding the Orient Express after being invited by his friend Tyler, he gets more than he bargained for.
- Tyler Whitney: Tyler is Robert Cath’s friend. At the start of the game, Tyler is found dead by Robert in mysterious circumstances, kicking off the events of the game.
- Anna Wolff: Anna Wolff is an Austrian violinist who becomes romantically involved with Robert Cath over the course of the game.
- August Schmidt: August Schmidt is a German arms dealer. He’s involved in dodgy dealings with Tyler, and may have a hidden agenda.
- Kronos: Kronos is a strange art collector who tries to keep to himself on the train. However, he can’t resist the trouble for too long.
- Alexei Dolnikov: Alexei is a Russian anarchist who has a few tricks up his sleeve on the train. What is he planning?
- Vassili Obolensky: Vassili is a Russian Count who isn’t exactly of sound mind. His fragile mental state causes problems in the isolation of the train.
- Tatiana Obolenskaya: Tatiana is a friend of Alexei’s, as well as the granddaughter of Vassili. This web of relationships comes to a head throughout the game.
- Miloš Jovanović: Miloš is a member of a Serbian rebel group named the Black Hand. He’s involved with the weapons deals happening on the train, and his associates are here to cause problems.
The Last Express Titles in the Series
Considering its huge financial failure, it should come as no surprise that The Last Express is the only game in the series. While designer Jordan Mechner had a few other games that were similar in their rotoscoped visual style (notably the original Prince of Persia), none were quite as ambitious as this title.
For the release of The Last Express, Jordan Mechner dared to dream, founding Smoking Car Productions to develop the game. It proved to be a costly mistake, and it would be the only game that the studio would ever create before shutting its doors in 1997.
If we’re being honest, we’d say the chance of seeing any more titles in The Last Express series is slim to none. In fact, it isn’t even clear who owns the IP anymore.
- The Last Express (1997)
The Last Express Cheat Codes
Unfortunately, there aren’t any cheat codes that will allow you to change the gameplay of The Last Express. There aren’t even any third-party mods that allow you to emulate the effects of a cheat code. Trust us, we’ve looked.
However, there is one exploit that we can teach you, which will make the entire game much easier. This is the exploit that allows you to bypass any fight. To do this, right-click while in a fight to bring up the Egg screen. Then, click the middle of the clock to return to the fight. If you repeat this step four more times, the game will just move on as if you won the fight.
Seems too easy, right? Try it – it works!
The Last Express Cheat Code FAQs
Are There Achievements For The Last Express?
Yes! As a matter of fact, the Steam release has quite a long achievement list that gives you a bunch of extra tasks to complete in order to 100% it. This gives the game much more replay value, especially with one particular achievement requiring multiple playthroughs.
Here is the full achievement list for The Last Express:
|Short trip for Tyler
|Tyler’s ready to leave the train
|The Black Hand
|Meet Milos in your compartment
|You can’t stay awake forever
|Read a young lady’s intimate journal
|Catch the beetle
|Catch a beetle in the smoking car
|Steal the gold
|“Borrow” Kronos’s briefcase
|Read Kronos’s private papers
|Stash the body
|Find a quiet place for Tyler to rest
|Find a souvenir of Tatiana’s happier days
|Read August’s secret correspondence
|Get Anna alone
|If you like her, don’t be shy
|Arrive in Constantinople
|Find someone’s stash of racy postcards
|Take the money and run
|Get off with the gold in Vienna
|101 ways to die
|Experience all the “losing” endings of the game
How Do I Skip Fights in The Last Express?
In case you missed it earlier, the exploit to skip fights is likely the only way to really cheat in The Last Express. You can do this by right-clicking in a fight and bringing up the Egg screen. Next, click the middle of the clock to head back to the fight. Repeat this step four more times, and the game should move on as if you won the fight. We don’t quite know why it works, but it does, and we’re not complaining.
If you think this makes the game too easy, then simply don’t use it.
Why Are There No Cheats in The Last Express?
This isn’t clear, unfortunately. While it isn’t the type of game you might expect to have an extensive cheat list, there are tons of ’90s games of this ilk that have at least a few to be able to use. However, that isn’t the case here, so you’ll have to do without. At least you can skip fights if you want!
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Screenshot from The Last Express.