After I got a job as an archivist, I started to walk to work instead of taking the bus. Despite that I enjoy some exercise before sitting at my office for hours, it made me forget the good times I had with mobile gaming while relaxing on the ride. In fact, my favourite genre for such activities is puzzle due to how they stimulate my brain and make me calm. Afterburn is thus no stranger to me, with their titles Golf Peak and Inbento coming highly recommended. Because of their solid projects, I got instantly hyped for their next one. Even if I am exhausted from travelling with trains for half of my life, managing railroads did sound like an entertaining way to pass time. 

On the right track

In Railbound, you will go through eight worlds consisting of multiple stages in a linear fashion where the objective will be the same: get the carts to the locomotive in the correct order. You see, each of them has a number on top, showcasing which should be attached first and last, making your goal continuously obvious. How to achieve this is by cleverly placing your limited amount of lanes in a manner to make sure that this will happen.

Since everything is on a grid, each track will fill up one square and can be connected to three other ones. This already presents a challenge, as you might only want to have two links and how swings are made can mean the difference between a victory and a retry. All of this is luckily a part of the gameplay, due to how you can easily restructure and pick up any lane unless they are already bound to the ground upon starting a level. When you are ready to test your layout, you press the big button on the right and see all the wagons go!

This simple premise quickly becomes more complicated when you have to make sure carriages do not crash with one another and time their arrivals to assure they end up behind the locomotive chronologically. Furthermore, each world introduces a new idea that guarantees to keep this journey captivating. Some examples are tunnels as a form of warping, barriers that can be toggled with a button on one of the roads, and passengers who can only jump onto certain carts.

With 79 key stages across the playthrough, there is a good amount of puzzles to take on. Unfortunately, the biggest problem this title has is that almost half of the missions are tutorials used to explain the unique concepts provided. Because of this, the difficulty curve resets by each section and becomes steeper thanks to the number of mechanics being utilised simultaneously. It never makes the campaign monotonous due to the variety added to Railbound‘s core design, but the excitement is lessened when you essentially have to go through tasks that are effortless to solve.

Another flaw is that a huge portion of these answers does revolve around making circles and it can be to the point that you see a pattern to this whenever you have a few extra tracks left to use. This is never enough to break the game, as there are those levels that will be ginormous or require tons of experimentation, but it is sadly a routine that is common to see. I also wish to add that while I am happy you can speed up the wagons to check if everything worked, I do not get the slowdown option as it is comprehensible enough to see it all played out at the normal pace.

Nevertheless, my brain was continuously tested and I consistently felt a sense of accomplishment whenever I learned from my miscalculations, despite the odd difficulty curve. I do wonder why there is even an option to unlock all missions from the start, as I was always engaged when getting introduced to a new idea in the earlier parts of each world and the hint system is enough for those already struggling with this genre. For something that can be easily picked up and played, I can definitely say that my time flew by due to the sheer entertainment offered here. 

Gameplay Score: 7/10

Enjoying familiar scenery

The team at Afterburn has some incredible talent for making memorable art, and this is no exception. Everything has strong colours and lovely linework to make every design pop out, with some endearing pictures working as transitions between the sections by telling a cute story of a conductor’s and his assistant’s journey. It is also hard to not admire subtle elements in each landscape, like unique flowers or the small waves in the lakes.

Seeing the carts wobble as they make turns is charming and having the stages represented as tickets is a nice inclusion! It is just a shame that even if each region is remarkable in terms of quality, they are not diverse. About four of them are basically different seasons in the same place with the exact same type of trees and two others are just various versions of a tropical setting. There is even a desert that is being reused at nighttime, and it makes me curious if there could not have been more alterations, such as cities or mountains.

Despite how it does make the locations eerily similar, I can still commend the style of this title. The audio is on par with the visuals, with the horns of the train signalling a job well done and hearing the pages turn as you jump between worlds on the menu being neat touches of details. Even the music is gorgeous, with a jazzy trumpet for the autumn area and a calm flute for the sixth zone being some of my favourites. All the melodies have a relaxing or uplifting tone to them, making them perfect for a genre where you have to use your noggin to get further. They could have become repetitive in the long run, but due to the short levels, this will not happen.

Presentation Score: 7.5/10

Worthwhile detours

Upon beating certain stages, you unlock extra ones that are severely more challenging than those of the main campaign! While they make the difficulty further bumpy, they are engaging and will test you to the max. Even if making circles can still be the answer on the occasion, these tasks are much more diverse to make this issue less common. I do wonder why these missions were not put at the very end though, as they would have fit perfectly as a grand finale.

Extra Score: 8/10


I believe this is an excellent example of a game that is good and merely has parts that could have been improved upon. Despite its insufficient structure and the sights being not exactly varied, placing down tracks and solving every single puzzle is constantly fun, with the music making sure to keep your head cool. A truly sweet title that is nice to have on standby for breaks, whether it is for five or 50 minutes!


Published by slionr

A guy who likes to talk about video games and loves tabletop gaming. Writer for corruptsavefile.com, you can always follow me on twitter @GSlionr if you ever want the latest article from me :)

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