Vulgar Knight
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Unrailed! Review

Friendship is rare. Do you know what I'm saying to you? Friendship is rare. My derriere.

Out now, here’s an Unrailed! review – a co-op multiplayer game that not only will test player’s multitasking abilities but determines who’s dead weight and letting the side down.

Not one for watching streamers or others playing games unless in the same room as me, I caught a video of Markiplier playing Unrailed! and it looked like a lot of fun.

Grabbing a review code for Steam, I was swift in going through the motions of gameplay mechanics and opted for a single-player campaign until my minion got home from school.

Unrailed! Review – PC via Steam

Before the driver even reaches their seat, let me clarify that Unrailed! is significantly better as a multiplayer rather than a solo effort. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it on your tod, but this is a challenging game. Would you play Overcooked alone?

The premise is straightforward enough: ensure the safety of your locomotive and guarantee that it reaches its destination without any complications. An easy concept, but in the open… bloody hard!

Some will rise to the challenge and relish in a difficult game, and there will be others who’ll tentatively dismiss it and assume they aren’t good enough at a game nor want the stress.

While Unrailed! isn’t remotely easy, it’s a lot of fun to play and tests your problem-solving skills on the fly when so much is thrown at you in one go. The rewards of getting the train to safety is so satisfying, and if you work with friends, or online strangers, you could potentially slay one track after another.

Of course, if you’re like me and not a fan of online play, you can go it alone, but you must receive help. The game does provide you with a bot that you can give commands, but having to stop what you’re doing puts you at an advantage.

Bot commands can range from sourcing the materials to build new tracks, to laying them and you can also set paths. However, the AI isn’t great, and I did find them getting trapped between the train on the odd occasion.

Let’s Up The Ante

Each procedurally generated stage starts relatively sane. The train is at a standstill, and you immediately seek out iron and wood to prepare to build the tracks, as well as any bridges too.

After some time, the train will gain momentum, so you have to work quickly and make sure there’s enough track to keep going, frequently harvesting and building the tracks on the fly. 

Unfortunately, the train can also overheat, so that means grabbing a bucket and filling with water from a nearby lake or river. On some of the tracks, you’ll have to run a fair bit to source the water first, and when multiple carriages are on fire, it all becomes pretty hectic.

Unrailed! - Lava
Feeling hot, hot, hot. Source: PR

Now here comes the cherry on top: raiders. Some NPCs will attempt to steal your resources and throw a spanner in the works at every corner – literally, as they’ll pick up tracks, rearrange them or place them away from the original location.

While this is all very frustrating, it’s actually pretty fun, and when you have other players involved, and when you have a moment to observe the hilarity of it all, Unrailed! is an enjoyable experience, if stressful.

Steam-Powered

There is the option to upgrade your train with progression. Upgrades include crafting more items or slowing your train down – a must. As long as you get the train to each station, you can carry these perks to the next one.

In some respects, Unrailed!, from Indoor Astronaut and Daedalic Entertainment, is a survival game and there’s even the Endless mode that promotes this; play one stage after the next until the demise of your train. You can’t directly die, but if your train meets its maker, it’s game over.

Fear not: grab three other people, and you can smash it. Perhaps. Alternatively, the focus isn’t solely on co-op as you can play a versus mode instead. To encourage longevity, Unrailed! has a sandbox mode also which allows you to tweak the difficulty, location and play through the unlockable wagons and characters available.

There aren’t many options in the game as you have limited tools and don’t have that much more to do than focus on the track and train. That’s a good thing – anything more, and it would overcomplicate the simplicity. Besides the NPCs and increasing speed of the train, the locations play a role too.

As you’ll see in the screenshots, there are snow levels, as well as those plagued with lava. Aside from the weather effects, there are also animals which can give you the odd bonus (as long as the objective isn’t to hurt them), but they’re also the four-legged equivalents of the NPCs in that they can sabotage your every mood.

Off The Rails

Unrailed! is an excellent co-op title, and the way to rate this sort of game depends on who you’re playing with. It will also depend on your stance whether you’re an online gamer or not. Swallow it up; you need to play with other people in this game to enjoy it, that said, it’s not without its flaws.

Some resources can be hard to see on some of the levels due to the blocky aesthetic and simple use of colour. With the snow stages, rocks can blend in, and you might end up heading in the wrong direction.

Unrailed! - Frosty
Cold front. Source: PR

Additionally, the NPCs and animals can be absolute scum. The number of times I had a gameplan of sourcing materials and creating a clear path to the station, someone or something would come along and either steal the tracks or get in the way that hitting them with a pickaxe completely desensitised me.

Again, if you work with other players, one can target the NPCs, take care of any fires, lay the tracks, and so on. Relying on the bots and giving them commands only works for so long, and you certainly can’t carry the team on your own. There’s too much happening.

But let’s not mark down a co-op game for being too challenging as a solo game – that defeats the purpose. Taking into consideration the upgrades and cosmetic upgrades, the fundamental gameplay and modes in Unrailed! is quite basic, but with the right people, the kind of game that you could end up playing until the early hours.

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