Excalibur Games, the team that brought us the glitchy but oddly experimental car driving and maintaining sim Jalopy, is now focusing their attention to another form a land travel with Tracks – The Train Set Game. Nothing more than a digital toy, Tracks suffers from many of the same problems of their other titles.
There is no goal, objective, high score, or game over in this digital toy box. The player simply places toy train tracks in a digital environment and then powers a train through it. There are dozens of options to create an entire digital landscape, such as placing trees, bridges, and signs, to craft an entire world but with no goal or objective, boredom sets is quickly. There is a game type with the goal of picking up passengers and dropping them off at their destination, which provides the only objective in the entire experience, but this is usually more tedious than entertaining thanks to a shoddy UI and even glitchier gameplay.
In fact, the very first time I loaded up Tracks, my game soft locked but the slow, relaxing soundtrack kept playing making me think the game was taking forever to load. After restarting and creating my first track after playing through the informal tutorial, my game froze again during the saving process. The game even tells the player that placing certain items on the track could cause the game to break in the official description of the item. Technically I am playing a pre-public release build so there is a chance future patches could make the gameplay more stable.
Although this release is for Xbox One, it seems like it was designed with a mouse interface in mind. Placing track with the face buttons and gaining access to the item menu with the shoulder buttons seems easy enough but ultimately lacks precise, intuitive controls. Moving the camera is always weird as it is anchored to the train but sometimes the player will want to freely roam the giant space to plan ahead or look top-down. It is possible to adjust verticality but nearly impossible to line up layers especially from a distance. It is also difficult to remember what each button does so the lack of reminders outside of the wadding through the tutorial again makes the experience frustrating.
The only way I can see Track – The Train Set Game to provide any entertainment value is if there is a parent out there who has a kid would really loves trains and doesn’t want to clutter a living room with Lego-like train track pieces. But with a cumbersome UI and less than stable gameplay, the only other reason someone will play this game is for the easy Achievement farming. I was able to get 800 gamerscore in about 15 minutes. The last 200 Achievement points involved picking up all the passengers and delivering them to their destination but encountered a bug so it wouldn’t work for me. Despite the kid-friendly casual appearance, this train track building sim is a train wreck.
Not As Good As: Halo’s Forge system
Also Try: Feather (Switch)
Wait For It: Minecraft 2