PAX Australia has to be one of my favourite events to attend, sure you can go hands on with some massive games, or even cosplay if that is your thing, but for me I love to take time and wander through the indie section, because there you never know what games might jump out at you. Last year, The Voxel Agents were on hand showing off Train Conductor World and while my time with it was short, I knew I wanted more and now that it’s finally out, I am addicted to it.
The idea behind the game is simple, make sure the trains get to their right track, so they deliver their cargo, straight forward and nothing complex about it. What makes the game a challenge and in turn quite the addictive little title is that the levels are so varied that you will have to keep learning them as much as the train variants. You will start off with a simple course, three tracks, trains come in from either side and if you get a blue train, make sure it gets to track one, red the middle and yellow at the bottom. To do this, you just touch on the train you want to move and drag your finger to the track you want it to go to, so straight forward after one round you will have it down pat.
But this is where things get challenging, as you unlock more courses you will also add additional tracks, layouts will change and even tracks wont connect without you, so you need to keep vigilant. What makes the game addictive is when you have two trains coming in from both sides on the same piece of track, you need to make a call as to which one gets diverted first and which one stays the course, the longer you leave that decision, the less time you will have to manage the trains, but while all that is going on, the other tracks will have trains coming in, so you can’t wait too long, it is all a balancing act, one that takes time to get right.
While the tracks change all the time, the trains will mostly stay the same from the outset, an old locomotive train, pulling one, sometimes two crates behind it, but as you level up on each stage, you will start to see express trains coming in and you will see them coming. Whenever one is about to enter the stage, you get a much louder railroad crossing sound and visual cues to tell you it’s coming, once it appears though, you need to get it to its track as fast as you can, because it does move fast. As you replay the same level over and over again, you will earn more stars for each train you deliver without it stopping, get to three stars on a level and you will see more of the sprinters, so be ready.
What is different about the game is how you unlock new levels, it does not provide you with a new one, for when you beat one, in fact it does not give you any levels, what it does to is give you pieces of track. As you play the game and deliver trains, you will get cargo, each piece of delivered cargo is worth a coin, fill the bar across the top and you will get a new track piece, get enough of the pieces you need and you can connect your starting station to another one, repeat the process to connect to the next and so on. The stations that become available to you are entirely up to you, as you will need to get the right pieces to connect to the one you want, but you can’t just place any pieces anywhere, places with lots of trees or rocks need an iron piece, so there are times you wont be able to go where you want, if you are lacking the right piece.