Unrailed! – Review
Follow Genre: Party game. arcade action
Developer: Indoor Astronaut
Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Tested on: PC

Unrailed! – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Great fun, challenging, simple but perfect
Bad: Missing a true campaign or progress that isn't only aesthetics
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

It is the season! No, not the festive season even though that won’t take long now. It’s lockdown season! Yay? Well, yes. It’s the perfect time to gather your maximum number of friends allowed and play those games together. You thought it was a coincidence that the number of people allowed was the same people needed to play multiplayer games? Psh, no. And on top of keeping you happy, themed party games such as Overcooked can improve your teamwork and attitude towards setbacks. Unrailed! is also one of those themed party games where you and your buddies will work on a railroad track. Under terrible circumstances. With little chance of success. Well, at least you are together!

Story

Unrailed! doesn’t have a story. You simply make sure a train can go as far as possible by laying out the tracks in front of it. This is fine on one hand, as you will just jump into the game and quickly restart it when you fail. The game allows you to pick a couple of game modes, such as versus where you can play against your friends, and sandbox where you can use whatever you unlocked already to mess around. Generally, though, you will play the Endless mode, which is the mode that’s closest to a campaign. You will simply start the game to see how far you will get. Once it’s game over, you have to try from the beginning again. Unrailed! has some rogue elements which make this work well, but the addition of a real campaign mode actually seems logical. The main reason why the game could use a campaign is to implement some type of progress. The only progress you get right now are skins for your character that are unlocked simply by playing the game.

Graphics

Unrailed! looks tiiiight! as it’s perfectly polished and in a beautiful voxel-based style. Half the fun comes from looking at the game in motion. While (or because) the visuals are kept simple and colorful, they are appealing. In a way, it feels a lot like being a child who’s playing with their toys. The visuals also communicate really well, which is an absolute must in games that can get a bit chaotic like Unrailed!. Only some visual indicators could have been made more obvious to not oversee important game elements, but this seems to have been a conscious design decision. After all, you panic more when you suddenly see something you previously missed.

Sound

Any sound in Unrailed! is absolutely marvelous and perfectly splendid. The moment you enter the main menu there’s so much to hear that’s train-related, and this overwhelmingly vivid flood of sounds is what also supports the gameplay big time. Saws in trees, rocks being mined, the train with the sound of a steam engine, together with some comical effects for i.e. enemies, the sounds are doing a great job in making the game enjoyable. It adds up to the feeling of “being a child who’s playing with their toys” that the graphics produce. Any background music is tailor-made for the biome (biomes in Unrailed! are like difficulty levels) your train is currently running through, and it just feels fresh and fun as a sound-supported experience.

Gameplay

Unrailed! is really a party game as well as they come nowadays. Good party games have the insane potential to go completely viral. You can see this looking at games such as Among us or Fall Guys thanks to the scale, interactivity, and competition mentality. Perhaps Unrailed! will not take the internet by storm with its cute and stressful arcade-like gameplay, but it has the quality of any viral game nonetheless. It’s also a textbook example of “easy to play, tough to master”, as it requires everybody to work together, think fast, and give their best. The goal in Unrailed is simple. You have a train that starts moving towards a dead track. You need to attach new pieces to the track as fast as possible or the train crashes and it’s game over.

To create tracks, all you need is wood and iron. Luckily, those are randomly generated at the start of the level and you can gather them on the map as far as the eye can see. Anything that falls outside of the map as the train progresses is lost forever though, so keep this in mind. You start with a train that has a cooling wagon with water inside, a wagon to stock resources, a railroad track creator wagon, and a locomotive. Put the wood and iron that you harvested in the resource wagon and the track creator wagon automatically makes you some shiny new track pieces. Easy as pie right? Despite being able to add new wagons as you complete levels, this is the essential gameplay of Unrailed! And while it perhaps sounds like little to do, it’s brilliantly executed.

You get a pickaxe, an ax, and a bucket. You can only take one of these items at a time. So playing with friends, you need to divide these tasks. Sometimes you will need to quickly change your “job” though as you are i.e. closer to the locomotive and somebody else is stuck. Besides building tracks and keeping the train from overheating, there’s land and there’s water. You can only build your tracks on land, but you can also use your wood to make bridges on water. Make sure you have enough wood though, else you can’t produce tracks anymore. It’s a game of managing, running around, making sure resources and equipment aren’t lost, and finding your way through land that gets tougher as you go on. If you build the tracks wrong, you might get the train in your way so you can’t reach previous areas anymore.

While you can choose the difficulty for playing the game (easy gives you plenty of space to build and little trouble, hard gives narrow passages and such), the real difficulty increases by upgrading your train. For various reasons such as finding one on the map or completing a level or extra objective, you will get a single bolt. With a few bolts, you can buy new carts to make your train longer and upgrade existing wagons. This forces you to choose your next expanse wisely as it can make a huge difference moving forward. For each level completed, the train goes a little bit faster. If you feel it’s going too fast or are very confident, you can also buy a new locomotive for four bolts. This will set the speed back a bit, and open up a new biome that will be harder. Where you start with green grass, you might quickly find yourself in a winter wonderland with tough snow that slows you down. It’s all these things that make Unrailed! great. The concepts are simple, communicative, and very well executed. When you play solo you even get a robot that takes assignments to compensate for the lack of friends. It’s fun, addicting, and each time you die the game makes you feel like you could do better so you start over again. A game that others could take notes from indeed.

Conclusion

Unrailed! turned out to be a big surprise by the fact alone that it’s a perfectly executed game. It’s simple to grasp, hard to master, and it offers a good and fun challenge for all. Really the only comment is the lack of proper progression by i.e. a campaign story, but other than that the game just works so well that it’s fun to play and repeat it on your own or with friends. Nice, attractive graphics, great sound design, and perfect execution make this game a great party addition.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Unrailed! - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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