Pocket Trains: Is that the X-O’clock to nowhere?

I cannot believe Draps found this. It is horrifically mundane and mildly dull as a principal – people can literally do that thing where they pretend to be a train conductor anywhere they like. On the bus, at the office; hell, even the gym! Train-conducting fantasists could be lying in wait for a signal and you’ll never know! Scary, no? Or is it just me who finds the idea of playing with trains as an adult creepy?

Either way, this is the gauntlet Draps threw down; to play this game for a week. So, I downloaded it. I skipped the tutorial – probably unwise but why break the habit of a lifetime? I started with three trains which I put down and then watched them chug along (slowly) with mild confusion and mounting impatience. They reached the station and so I set them off again, very mildly richer in game terms for it.

This was most of day one. Day two saw the opening of a new line (I could barely control my excitement) and the extension of another. I now had most of central Europe under rail and engine but was still somewhat confused; I didn’t really understand why I was doing any of it. But I shrugged as with the extra trains the game sped up somewhat, my phone happily chirruping away every few minutes when a train turned up. I did stop watching any of the sequences where the trains moved however. The designers did a champion job of replicating the monotony of of watching countryside go by on a train journey in the game.

By day four I had turned notifications off. I owned eight train lines and even some second tech level trains – faster, not so fuel efficient – and had basically buried England, France, Germany and Italy beneath the iron shod rails of my mighty train empire. But I still could figure out why. By day six I had stopped as I could see no point in actually playing the game.

This was the issue; it is ultimately unrewarding. There is no difficulty curve, to begin with – in fact, there’s no fecking difficulty in the game at all! There is no struggle, no challenge; not once did I ever feel I couldn’t do something, given enough time to send trains to and fro. Nothing was interesting in the game – once I had sent my first train and laid a new railway line on day one, I had done everything the game had to offer. It was like being in a relationship just so you could have sex, but then find out that your new partner’s about as good at it as the slightly warm gullet of a recently dead fish. And doing that is just…sick.

I could list what the ‘game’ does well but I can sum it up by saying it’s a very successful simulation of being a train-spotter. Who builds his own trains. And tells them where to go. And then goes spotting them anyway.

Rating: Slightly under-cooked, unidentified ‘meat’ with a side salad of luke-warm wet cabbage and fennel. It was definitely a Trial of Chad.


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