The Last Express is the Citizen Kane of adventure gaming: Loved by critics and ignored by the public. However, it is a fantastic game and every fan of adventure gaming should take a moment to play it. I was not particularly wanting to play this game, but it immediately drew me in.
I will say a bit about the beginning because it is the most confusing part of the game: You play Robert Cath, and American Doctor who is meeting his friend aboard the Orient Express. However, you miss the train and therefore must jump onto it as it is in motion. And there is where the game starts: you are on the train not certain as to exactly what you are supposed to do.
Let me say that I was not looking forward to this game. My biggest pet peeve in adventure gaming is dead ends. Having to replay sections of a game drives me nuts. And this game runs entirely on a clock, in a modified "real-time." Basically, the action of the game depends on you being in the right place at the right time. However, the developers have ingeniously gotten around the dead end problem to make the game more tolerable: at certain points in the game you must have done certain things, and if they are not done it will rewind the clock to the point where you still can achieve this. Also, replaying sections is not the laborious chore that it is in other games. The amazing feature of this game is that it is character driven. There are 20 or so characters on the train that have their own patterns and conversations, whether you are there or not to hear them. Therefore you can listen to differnet things and try different methods while replaying. The ability to wander around looking at differnet things happening really makes you feel part of the game environment more than any other I have played and it makes the atmosphere startingly realistic.
It took about 20 minutes of playing time before I totally changed my mind on this game. There are some moments in the game where I felt such freedom that it gave me a thrill quite unlike any other game I have played. There is a scene where you are running from the police where it felt like there were unlimited ways in which you could finish the scene. There is a wonderful violin concerto which seemed like you could just sit and listen to for endless time if you didn't have to do some snooping
A few caveats: there are some fighting scenes, which do take a little bit of reflexes, although most only took about 10 minutes tops to win. Also, they allow you to replay them from the begining of the scene if you lose. (Note: there is a cheat for this). The fight scenes reminded me of a modern day dragon's lair kind of fighting, all done with the mouse. Also, the diffiuclty steps up quite a bit about halfway through the game. In my opinion it went from downright easy (but thrilling) to quite difficult. Over all, though, it is a great game and is now one of my absolute favorites.