Early Access PC Game
Set in North America during the 19th century, young man Walter meets with a lawyer in Portland after the death of his father. Inheritating his father’s train, Walter is tasked with finding his siblings to stop shareholders of his dad’s company pushing through an extended railroad contract that would see the habitat of the Native American tribes destroyed.
Corbie Games and Daedalic Entertainment present Bounty Train, a train simulator, strategy and management game currently available on Steam in Early Access. Early Access games are games which are currently in development but are in a decent enough state to be played. Those who purchase games in Early Access have the ability to shape and mould the game, giving feedback to the developers who often act upon it. The games can sometimes contain bugs and other issues but the development team usually fixes these and they also add in other features to the game over time until they’re are happy with the game to officially release it.
As it currently stands in Early Access, Bounty Train is a pretty complete game already and damn is it addictive! There’s two sides to the game: one is controlling a train to get to its destination, along with the people riding the train, and the other is managing the logistical side of a train i.e. cargo deliveries and ferrying people to their destination.
You start the game off in Portland in 1861 with a train with two carriages. You’re able to carry one passenger, two workers and 8 loads of cargo. Over the duration of the game, you’ll earn money from completing jobs and can use the funds to buy better, faster trains and carriages which will hold more loads and passengers.
In each city, there are people standing on a railway platform. Some want a ride to a certain city, others want parcels delivering and some want jobs on your train. Each of these requests are optional and if not suitable at the current time, can be taken up at a later date. Each city has a City Hall too which you can visit to acquire tasks such as “Deliver 5 food sacks to Chicago in 16 days”. With these particular tasks, it’s better to take the ones you know you can complete as failure to complete the tasks will see you issued with a fine. Upon my first play through of the game, I made the mistake of being too adventurous, taking on loads that needed to be delivered to cities miles away. Not delivering on time saw my funds reach $0 and therefore I couldn’t continue the game.
As with any train, to get it to move you need to fuel it and so in every city you stop at, you can purchase coal. With the train you start with, the maximum amount of coal you can carry is 10 tonnes. This will limit how far you can travel in one stretch so therefore you may need to make several stops depending on where you want to go. Train engine upgrades are available to purchase in various cities but expect to shell out over $4000 for one.
To travel from city to city for the first time, you’ll need a licence. Once acquired, you can then travel that stretch of track as often as you like without having to pay for another licence however bandits, Indian tribes and soldiers are often situated along the way and if you’ve not got enough money to pay them off or if you don’t want to shell out your hard earned dough, you’ll have to battle them to get to your destination safely. This is where hiring workers comes in handy. Your starting character Walter is already a dab hand with a revolver but he needs backup. There are men and women eager to work at the different cities and each has various skills on offer. Some are terrific tradesmen or drivers, whilst others are handy with a rifle or if they’re a butcher, a knife. Finding the right people to work on your train may take some time, but once you’ve got a good mixture they’re usually in for the long haul – as long as they survive. The fights with the bandits start off easy but as time goes on, they get confident and will start to board your train if they’re able to get near it, or they’ll park a wagon across the tracks, forcing you to pull the brake on the train and fight them off. The enemies will be keen to kill Walter, his passengers and his crew, so you have to strategically attack the bandits whilst protecting the passengers, the cargo and the train itself. If successful, you’ll walk away with a financial reward and maybe some loot but if you’re not happy with how the firefight went down, you have the option of restarting the fight.
As if there’s not already plenty enough to keep you occupied, you also have the ability to operate the train. You can control the speed, the acceleration boost, the brake and the whistle, as long as you’ve got at least one driver character shovelling the coal. There’s a time and place to use the boost with bends in the tracks and speed limits in place to scupper you should you try to boost your way through them. The brake comes in handy for those moments when you’re really going too fast or when you unexpectedly find a wagon across the tracks, blocking your way.
It’s so easy to lose hours when playing Bounty Train. It’s one of those games that sucks you in as you strategically decide whether you’ll reach New York in time with the furs they need if you have to first stop at Buffalo to drop off a passenger who’s low on health after a shootout on the railway track. It’s such a simple idea but so well executed that I really cannot fault the game one bit. There is an objective to the game – to find all of Walter’s siblings to stop a railroad being built through the Native Americans’ land – but I’m too busy having fun just chugging backwards and forwards between stations delivering goods and earning tons of money to buy new trains. Who ever thought trains could be so exciting?!
With its period soundtrack, engaging management system, RPG character levelling, fun train controls and point and click real-time combat, there’s so much to enjoy about Bounty Train already that anything else that devs Corbie Games may decide to add will be a bonus. It’s pretty easy to pick up the controls of the game and understand how it works, although to master it is another thing. It constantly challenges you and just when you think you have everything under control, you’ll lose a passenger or cargo and be fined for the pleasure. It’s all a balancing act and if you play your cards right, you can earn a whopping amount of cash and have the shiniest, fastest train in North America. Now where did I leave my driver’s hat?
If trains, sims or period games are your thing, then Bounty Train is definitely worth checking out.