Unrailed! is one train that has steamrolled its way into popularity and is not losing momentum anytime soon.
- Developer: Indoor Astronaut
- Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
- Release Date: 23rd September 2020
- Genre: Indie, Action
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC (Steam), Linux, Mac
- Reviewed on: Windows PC
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Someone stop that train! This game puts you straight into the shoes of a railway engineer in a way you’ve never experienced before. Unrailed! forces you to gather resources, build tracks, kill bandits and milk cows all while the train happily plods along to its destination, never stopping. Unrailed! is one of those games, alongside Overcooked and Human Fall Flat, that works ten times better as a multiplayer effort than as a solo play. I’m not saying that you can’t play it solo, but you don’t get the full experience that I’m sure the developers were looking for. It’s best to get a group of 2–4 of you to play it either online or through Steam’s remote play.
Like Human Fall Flat, there isn’t really a plot to this game. It’s more a “drop you in and good luck” kind of game. The main goal is to get your train from Point A to Point B without letting it crash, catch on fire, get looted by bandits or dive off into a lake. It sounds easy when put on paper, but in this game, even the simplest things like gathering resources prove to become anxiety inducing tasks!
This train never stops once it gets going, always chugging along and hoping that you’re paying enough attention to lay some fresh track down. As soon as the game started my friend and I put ourselves into clear roles: He would gather resources and put them near the train, I would then put the resources in the train, lay the fresh tracks and make sure the train didn’t spontaneously combust. Easy enough, or so we thought! That is until we realised that after a few levels, the train progressively gets quicker and quicker. Meaning that not only did we have to gather resources quicker, but we had to keep a sharper eye on the train as it had a higher risk of catching fire.
Each level is procedurally generated so no two games are ever the same. This provides infinite replayability which is great for those days where you just want to get into a game and have some fun with your mates. Once you have mastered your way through each level and reached the checkpoint, you can level up your train using the “bolts” that you have collected. This is where diplomacy goes out of the window and everyone tries to grab what they think is the best option. Whether it be a new carriage, upgrade or even a new engine. Although, one thing we didn’t realise, is that with each new engine we added, a new environment was added to our game, which caused the game to jump in difficulty! These joint menu screens provided my friend and I a lot of laughs because you both have to stand on the button long enough for the game to proceed. The amount of times one of us would jump off just as the bar filled had us both giggling, as if we were siblings annoying each other.
The visuals in Unrailed! are almost along the lines of roblox or Minecraft, resources are blocked and the colours are bright. The aesthetic fits in very well with the overall feel of the game, relaxed but on edge. Although the colouring is done well, one thing I would mention is that it makes it hard to see the resources laying on the ground at points. Sometimes you will literally be unable to see the wood for the trees. After chopping down some of the available forest, it was very easy to misplace a stack of wood as it doesn’t stand out as a clear resource on the map. Usually resources would be clearly labelled or maybe flashing gold, but these just sit there.
The sound design is simplistic enough that it didn’t leave a mark on me. The background music is cute and light, but it does have a sense of urgency around it. This anxiety inducing urgency is heightened by each track having its own ticking clock sound, enforcing the need for speed!
For a game as simplistic in design and gameplay as Unrailed! is, it’s an amazingly fun game to play. As someone who enjoys team games and is lucky enough to have friends that will play it with me, it’s a fun time to burn a few hours. Although this game is highly dependent on how you and your friends play together, it will still provide you with a few good laughs.