I’m a big adventure game fan, but it seems like more often than not adventure games that make their way to iOS devices are simply ports from other devices, consoles or computers. Consequently, when an original title comes along I get really excited. Thankfully, The Train Ep. 1 didn’t disappoint when I finally got the chance to play it. The interface was a bit clunky at times and the game was too short, but it was worth it for the decent visuals, the good story and the interesting characters. Episode 2 ups the ante in the aesthetics department as well as the story, but it’s still pretty short. That would be okay with me, except in its current incarnation the interface is quite frustrating. Your enjoyment will weigh heavily on how patient you are.
The first episode chronicled the quest of a guy named Martin, who was trying to get to his fiancée. The backdrop is a future Earth that has been devastated by the Apocalypse, and in this episode you get to find out how the emperor of this dystopian future came into power. More appropriately, you get to play the someday emperor Greg as he takes the final journey that leads to his rise in power. Aboard a train to India you’ll discover mystery, betrayal and the love of someone’s life… plus some other interesting loose ends from episode one. You don’t need to have played the first part to enjoy this one, but it certainly can’t hurt.
Like a typical adventure game you’ll need to study all of your locations, scrutinize everyone you meet, and solve some puzzles in order to accomplish your goals. Most items are collected by tapping on them, though some might be given to you by other characters in the game. To use an item you tap on it in inventory and then tap what you want to use it with. As long as your inventory is open, the last item you selected is “active” until you tap on it again or tap on a different item. To talk to someone just tap on them. You can then tap to scroll through the dialog. Also, tapping on certain areas will cause a dialog to come up describing the area. Just tap away from the dialog to close it.
Unlike the first game, there are no “extended” screens in episode 2, so you don’t have a virtual joystick to scroll around the screen. That’s okay, because that system had a couple of kinks anyway. Unfortunately, the navigation in this episode has what I call “sticky” syndrome. If you click things to quickly, it’s possible for dialogs (or even descriptions when you pick up items) to get stuck. The only way to clear this is to move to a different scene in the game or sometimes even two or three scenes away. This wouldn’t be so bad except that every scene has a slight load time, and even slight load times add up after a while. Patience will persevere, but in the mean time it can get frustrating.
The graphics are decent, and certainly better than episode 1. The locations look nice, and for the most part the people look good, but there are times when they feel like cardboard cutouts. There isn’t a ton of animation in the game, the most notable exception being the motion outside the windows to give the train a feeling of movement. There are some sound effects here and there, though sadly no voiceovers. That’s something I’d really like to see in this series. The music is very nice and changes depending on the situation, which is nice because given that the majority of the game takes place in the train it could have been easy to stick with one track.
As original adventures on the iPhone go, The Train is turning out to be one of the most engaging series available. The story is well thought out, the pacing is decent, and the developer sure knows how to create a cliffhanger. The visuals are getting better with each iteration, and the music is blossoming as well. My main frustration is that the interface actually seems to have gotten a bit worse. I imagine a lot of it can be attributed to the development tool, but that doesn’t help us as end users out any. Purely from a story and puzzle standpoint I’d recommend the game, but unless you mind a lot of needless backtracking you’ll soon grow tired of the fragile interface.
Final Verdict: On The Fence
App Store Link