Publisher: Paperash studio
In the later stages of his life, famous inventor DW Tagrezburg received a strange contract from an unknown client requesting him to build a fully functional replica of the human world. Tagrezburg, who was famous from his childhood years due to his brilliantly inventive mind, began to build this project; he called it Dark Train. The train was set up to represent 4 habitats of the human world, namely the Forest, City, Graveyard, and Pool. Unfortunately, the inventor died before he could deliver the Dark Train to the client, and therefore you're tasked to deliver the train in full working order somewhere outside of the city.
Developer: Paperash studio
Review platform: Windows 10
Release date: October 25, 2016
Dark Train has quite the art style, mixing up the morose look of puzzle games like Monochroma with steampunk elements reminiscent of Book of Demons. Dark Train also features some of the most interesting puzzles I've ever found in a game. The story elements are fascinating, with Paperash studio pulling out all the stops, even creating a Twitter account for the late DW Tagrezburg. At first, I was under the impression that this character was based on some actual inventor or extracted from a book. However, the world and the back story are entirely fictional, but seem real enough that they truly amplify the authentic feel of the game.
The game starts off with you playing as the robotic assistant ANN 2.35f, a squid-like droid that can fly in this world. It is tied to the train with chains, and it's up to you to start all of the systems on the locomotive by visiting all of the 'worlds' the inventor created and by activating each of their underlying systems. However, it is easy to underestimate the difficulty of this task. The game requires some inventive thinking on the player's part, with puzzles starting off as quite vague. However, it does pay off in the end when you finally see a specific area light up on the train, demonstrating your success.
The sound direction this game took plays a huge role in drawing the player into the world. The atmosphere is quite morose, and it draws quite a lot of inspiration from games like Limbo, but remains unique in its own way.
Nevertheless, the game does have its flaws. The control scheme is quite hard to master, both with a mouse and keyboard and with a traditional gamepad. The direction of the squid seems random at times, which becomes quite frustrating. The game doesn't use the standard point-and-click mechanism that puzzle games usually implement, instead opting for a 'loose' floating character who drifts towards certain points like a magnet. On top of that, the puzzles can become extremely vague, causing you to float around for some time trying to figure out what the trigger for the puzzle will be.
But in the end, these glaring issues will not detract from the overall experience, and diehard puzzle fans will be drawn to its allure. The game offers decent gameplay and challenging puzzles that will give the smartest amongst us something to really sink their teeth into.
Paperash has created one of the deepest and most interesting puzzle games on PC in a while, with a narrative that does not just rest on its laurels after players glance through a single page of lore. The game offers thorough backstory, giving both casual gamers and hardcore puzzle fans something that not only offers a challenge but also offers something easy to dig into.
The game's art style brilliantly mixes the Arcanum look with brilliant sound effects similar to those found in Limbo, bringing you one of the most decent indie titles I've seen on Steam. Although the game is currently only on PC, I wouldn't mind seeing it on Xbox One in the future as well.
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