Unrailed is a co-op multiplayer railroad construction game developed by Indoor Astronaut and published by Daedalic Entertainment. It originally released on Steam in early access in 2019 and is now officially version 1.0 as of September 23, 2020 on Steam, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. The Xbox version is still in development. Together with up to four friends, locally or online, you have to work together to build and connect a train track to a nearby station across endless procedurally generated worlds. You can also play 2v2 in versus mode, but I felt this was a bit limited and more fun when everyone was working together. If you’re stuck looking for group, you can play with an AI teammate, but geez do they make your work for it!
The premise of the game is simple – the train is on a section of tracks and has several carts behind it. The train slowly inches forward and you must clear rocks or trees from its path and construct new railroads to connect the train to the station ahead. Sounds like a breeze, right? Well the tutorial does a good job of teaching you the basics but playing by myself with an AI buddy was pretty much me doing everything. Oh, I forgot to mention there are creatures on each map that want to mess with you. Those neat piles of wood and ore that you had stacked ready to bulk build some tracks? Yeah, they did not like the look of them so picked them up and threw them off the cliff. Rude!?
Whilst playing the Unrailed tutorial with an AI character, they admittedly did a good job of bulk harvesting the resources I needed. I had to plot them some waypoints to work within, but it is a set and forget kind of thing. While they were doing that, I was hurriedly rushing around picking up a pickaxe to get ore or an axe to get wood. You can only hold one thing at a time, so that means you need to pick a tool, stand next to the ore or wood while it auto harvests for you. Piles of ore and wood appear on the ground so you drop your tool and pick them up (you can only carry three piles of each at a time). You then take the ore and wood to the train and place them in the box wagon. Once ore and wood are in the box, it will then craft pieces of railroad track.
Grab the railroad track piles and rush in front of the train, hopefully placing them down so the train can continue on its way safely to the next station. If you fail to create a track in time, the train will crash and explode, ending that run. The train can also overheat, so in that instance you need to grab a bucket of water, run to the water source and back again to douse the flames. If multiple carts on fire, that’s multiple trips to the water source. If you don’t put the flames out in time, that particular cart will explode. With less carts to pull, the train will actually gain speed.
Unrailed can get super hectic, especially when playing with the AI. I found them good at harvesting resources, but I would get flustered trying to grab ore and wood one pile at a time and then rush to place the tracks. It would be a far superior experience playing with a real mate that was switched on. If you have played other co-op games like Overcooked, you’ll know how intense it can get, but the sense of urgency is the attraction of this game. The graphics are voxel art with a very Minecraft feel, only the camera is zoomed out in an isometric view. This sometimes was an issue, particularly if I dropped some resources on the top-side of the train. It was great to be able to access the train from both sides, but occasionally I had to fumble around remembering where I left the bucket or pile of wood.
The different biomes offered some good changes of scenery and you’ll often see different animals that are both a benefit and can be a hindrance. They can be used as buffs, but sometimes can get in your way if you only carved a narrow path through trees. Sometimes the camels even drunk the water I was using to douse flames on my carts. There’s also a day/night system which creates great atmosphere, so the art of the game is great and varied enough to keep you doing multiple runs. Completing endless mode runs rewards you with upgrades. There are 29 characters to eventually unlock, and a total of 47 wagons/engines upgrade variations.
Unrailed is a great game to play co-op with mates and would be a great lan game to play in between others. It can definitely get stressful, particularly when you’re alone playing with the AI which need micromanaging themselves. I really enjoyed the art style and it is a game you can play in short bursts or settle in for long multiplayer sessions.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis