The railway fascinates an awful lot of people. Accordingly, it never surprises me when computer games use it as their theme. From ultra-realistic simulators to resource management titles, trains are ever popular and get everywhere. Therefore, when I saw Railbound advertised, I wasn’t shocked. It wears its influences on its sleeve and will be loved by rail enthusiasts and puzzle fans.
Developed and published by Afterburn, this is a top-down puzzle title. Its aesthetics and core mechanics embody classic railway systems and some old-school working methods. What’s more, the puzzles on offer are fun and will test your grey matter.
Railbound is wonderfully cruel.
I don’t always enjoy a brutal puzzle game. I normally find them frustrating and annoying. After all, there is nothing worse than being stuck on the same problem for hours on end. However, Railbound is so charming, that you’ll enjoy the aesthetics and its wonderfully cruel ways.
With 8 worlds to explore and numerous stages to overcome, there are plenty of puzzles to solve. You are in charge of coupling each carriage to its locomotive engine. You must lay tracks, activate switches, pick up passengers, and utilise tunnels. Sounds simple so far, right? Well, it would be if there weren’t so many obstacles blocking your path to success.
First, you only have limited pieces of track to place down. This means that there is only 1 solution per puzzle. Consequently, there is no guesswork, and it becomes increasingly harder the further you progress. Second, each truck is numbered and must be coupled in the right order. Finally, drip-fed mechanics make the game progressively harder and more convoluted. As such, planning a solution isn’t always as straightforward as you’d think.
Switches, barriers, point work, and more.
Though the puzzles are almost unbearably tough, Railbound tightens the screws very slowly. Subsequently, you are lulled into a false sense of security. Thanks to the theme-based elements, you’ll yourself in this tough but enjoyable puzzle experience.
As you lay the tracks, you must consider which was to set the points and the movement of each vehicle. On top of this, your trains are blocked by barriers that are controlled by switches. Alongside this, there are pressure plates that alter the flow of traffic, tunnels for shortcuts, and shunting trains that must be avoided. In short, there are many ingredients for this fun but complex puzzle game.
Railbound is nicely varied.
Though the graphics and presentation aren’t award-winning. I liked them nonetheless. Where Railbound excels is its wonderfully varied stage design. Thanks to the array of themes, you’ll never tire of what you see. Moreover, the simple graphics are pleasant to look at and the colour palette is bright and interesting.
As to be expected, the audio has distinct railway vibes. However, it is not a one-trick pony, as its jovial soundtrack adds energy to the occasion. Overall, the audio lacks complexity, but I enjoyed the offerings all the same.
Remarkably easy controls.
I was particularly surprised by the easy-to-follow controls. Yet, I shouldn’t have been as Railbound is also a mobile phone game. By using the left and right mouse buttons, you control the point work, lay new tracks, or remove existing rails. That is how difficult it is to play, and this allows you to focus on the brain-teasing puzzles.
Luckily, there is a hint system to alleviate some of the pain. However, if you wish to ignore this, the ridiculously hard puzzles will test you and keep you playing. Yet, once you solve every problem and their subsequent designs, you have little else to do. Accordingly, this impacts replay value and longevity.
Railbound is fun but difficult.
The puzzle genre is saturated and there are plenty of “tired” games to play. Luckily, though, Railbound stands out because of its charming theme and challenging puzzles. Furthermore, its concept is straightforward and its execution is well-balanced and rewarding. It is for these reasons that I recommend you buy it here! Shunting carriages isn’t supposed to be easy. However, this is just brilliantly cruel in every way.