Acclaimed as one of the best adventure games of all time, The Last Express puts the player on board the Orient Express in July 1914, as the fabled luxury train departs Paris for Constantinople on the eve of World War I. Step into the shoes of Robert Cath, a fugitive American doctor with a mysterious past, as an urgent telegram from his best friend plunges him into a maelstrom of conspiracy, romance and murder.
First published in 1997 by Broderbund as a 3-CD set, the original game and DotEmu 2012 remastered version are now available for PC/Mac and mobile platforms.
—Richard Cobbett for PC Gamer (2019)
Tof Eklund for TouchArcade (2012)
In 1992, after the release of Prince of Persia, I moved to Paris intending to take a sabbatical from making video games. Ironically, it led me to my most ambitious game effort yet.
Published by Brøderbund in 1997 on three CD-ROM disks, The Last Express is an immersive adventure game that puts the player on board the Orient Express in July 1914, crossing Europe on the eve of World War I. It pushed the boundaries of interactive narrative in ways that no game has done before or since.
Game technology has advanced, but The Last Express story, characters, and design have stood the test of time and won the loyalty of an exceptionally passionate and committed fan base. It's a game I'm especially proud of, and one that's close to my heart.
In 2012, DotEmu released the original Last Express on a variety of mobile platforms (see above). My favorite way to play it now is with headphones, on a plane — or better yet, on a train.
Making this game was a life-changing experience for me. It was my first time starting and running a company. In four years, Smoking Car Productions grew to 60 people; babies were born, friendships were forged.
To create the art nouveau-inspired animation for The Last Express, we developed — and patented — a digital rotoscoping process to transform live-action footage into hand-drawn animation.
In order to make our portrayal of the 1914 Orient Express as historically accurate as possible, the Smoking Car team tracked down the original pre-war blueprints, train timetables, and even the last remaining sleeping car, derelict and abandoned in an Athens train yard.
3D modeler-artist Donald Grahame took hundreds of measurements and photographs to "restore" the virtual train to its original luxurious state, down to the hand-turned screws and embossed leather panels on the compartment doors.
Artistically and technically, it was an immensely ambitious undertaking, bordering on lunacy. We spent our last nickel on the game, and closed our doors shortly after it shipped; but it was an adventure I wouldn't trade for anything.