Step aboard the 1914 Orient Express in this award-winning adventure from Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner.
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.
"Grips you from the beginning and keeps you glued to your computer until its heart-pounding ending... An innovative masterpiece that has set a new standard for the adventure game genre."
— Nexus Gaming
"One of those rare occasions when game design approaches the level of art... My highest recommendation: one of the most beautiful games I've ever seen."
— Triad Style
"For the first time in a long time I've become emotionally attached to a game through its clever balance of class, originality, memorable characters, and a well-designed plot."
"Intelligent writing, complex characters, unpredictable plot twists and some of the most convincing voice acting ever heard in a game... Remains intriguing all the way to the spectacular ending."
"Please, get your wallet. Get your purse... As of this week, The Last Express is available on GOG and Steam. Amazing atmosphere and attention to detail... A captivating, unforgettable experience. Buy it at once, before it yet again disappears into the cold, dark night."
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.
In the Smoking Car
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.
My research travels for The Last Express in 1992-93 included European train stations, train yards and archives. But just as important was my discovery of European comics. The storytelling and artwork of masters like Pratt, Bilal, Tardi, and Giardino — little-known at that time in the U.S. — were a revelation to me, and became a key influence. With its multiple interweaving narratives, combining real 20th-century history with romantic adventure and intrigue, The Last Express comes the closest of all my games to feeling like an interactive, animated European comic book.
If you enjoyed the characters and storytelling in The Last Express, I hope you'll check out my recent and current work as a graphic novel author: Templar, Liberty, and Monte Cristo. Their story lines and settings range from the 14th century to modern day; all are animated by the same spirit and interest in historical accuracy that was my wellspring for The Last Express. (Liberty and Monte Cristo are available in French; English versions to be announced soon.) You'll find all of them on the Books page.
In a different historical vein, my nonfiction graphic memoir Replay — the first book I've both written and drawn — interweaves my father's and grandfather's direct experience of 20th century European history during World Wars I and II with my own 40-year career as a game developer, including making The Last Express and Prince of Persia. Replay can be enjoyed by anybody, but players of The Last Express will find special echoes (and Easter eggs) that suggest why that game's story has always had such personal resonance for me.
Replay is now available in French, English version coming March 2024. It can be pre-ordered here.
The above panels are from Jordan's graphic novel Replay: Memoir of an Uprooted Family. Interweaving three generations of Jordan's family story with episodes from his video game career (including the development of Karateka, Prince of Persia, and The Last Express), Replay won wide acclaim on its April 2023 release in France.
The English edition will be published by First Second Books on March 19, 2024. You can read reviews, excerpts, and Jordan's commentary (and pre-order a signed copy of the English edition) on the Replay book page.
More behind-the-scenes and archival materials from the making of The Last Express are available in the Library.