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Bounty Train Indie Game Preview

We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Corbie Games and  Daedalic Entertainment for the review copy of Bounty Train used for this preview. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to preview, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this preview. Receiving the preview copy for free had no impact on the content of this preview.

At the time of this preview Bounty Train is in the early stages of early access on Steam. For those of you not familiar with early access, this means that the game is not yet finished as the developers are continuing to add new features and fixing issues with the game. Due to the game not being complete, this preview will not feature a rating/score. At this time Bounty Train is expected to stay in early access until early 2016. This preview may be updated in the future based on updates to the game. When the game leaves early access, Geeky Hobbies will feature a full review of the game.

In Bounty Train you play as a man who has inherited part of his father’s railroad company after his suspicious death. Being on the forefront of building the rail lines which will connect the East and West coast, your father’s old company will determine the future for the west. While your father preferred avoiding taking Native American lands, one of the majority owners of the company would like to build the rail lines straight through Native American lands in order to make more money. Your goal in Bounty Train is to cement your father’s legacy by building your railroad empire while also convincing your other family members to support your father’s dreams for the west.

Bounty Train is an early access game recently released on Steam that was made by Corbie Games and published by Daedalic Entertainment. The game is a mix of a bunch of different video game genres including train simulation, trading, and tactical combat. Despite being an early access game, Bounty Train already has the makings of a great game that blends several different video game genres.

Welcome to the Age of Steam

As you can probably already tell, Bounty Train takes place in the United States during the 19th century. The game’s story seems to focus on the government’s conflicts with the Native Americans, and the beginnings of the Civil War. While history buffs will probably already know all the historical details presented in the game, I think they will still enjoy the game. I liked that Bounty Train tries to teach you about this period in US history without forcing you to sit through a bunch of historical facts.

As far as gameplay is concerned it is kind of hard to place Bounty Train into a specific video game genre since it takes mechanics from many different genres.

Lets start with the train simulation genre. Since the game is about trains, this is kind of a no-brainer. While the level of detail is unlikely to be that of Train Simulator, I think the game does pretty good in this area. Before leaving any city a player can buy additional compartments for their train and rearrange the compartments in any order they like. Obviously the engine has to be at the front of the train. Occasionally player will take control of their train as they traverse between two different cities. Usually this is due to the player encountering a battle with bandits, Native Americans, or other soldiers. The controls do a good job simulating how you would actually control a train. You choose how much power you want to use. While running the train you don’t want to go too fast to prevent destroying your train and you don’t want the engine pressure to get too high. While it might disappoint serious train enthusiasts, I liked that the controls were simplified to a point where they are easy to control without requiring a long tutorial.

Next comes the trading simulation. While I hope the game can add a few more items that you can trade, I really liked this aspect of the game. Essentially you can buy items in one city and then trade them in a another city for a profit. Players can also take on passengers that are looking to reach a specific destination. Missions are also available where you either need to deliver goods to another city or to acquire goods and return them to the city where they picked up the mission. While you can add additional cars to your train to carry more goods, you will always have a limited amount of goods that you can store on your train. This means that you need to manage the cargo on your trains in order to best use your space.

What I liked most about this aspect of the game is that it is simple enough to understand but also deep enough that you actually have to put thought into it. The missions and passengers in particular are interesting since you need to get the items/passengers to their destination within a specified amount of time. This is an area where you can really get into trouble if you don’t plan out what you are going to do next. If you are too aggressive and take too many missions/deliveries, you will run out of time and will incur penalties which can put you in a money pit that you may never be able to get out of. This actually happened to me which made me have to restart the game.

The last main mechanic in the game is the combat. Unless you decide to pay off everyone you encounter, you will be forced into combat.  You can hire the services of different people in each town who will help you defend your train in case of an attack. The number of defenders that you can have is dependent on how many cars there are in your train. Like an RPG every character has various stats that determine how effective they are in combat. Through combat the characters will upgrade to become better fighters.

Combat kind of works like a tactical strategy game. You can position your characters in whichever position you prefer inside your train and at any time can have them to move to a different part of the train. You can decide which enemies they should attack as well as deciding when they should use their special abilities. From what I have played of the game it seems like you have to take your time and strategically attack your opponents instead of going in guns blazing. While I think the combat could use a couple tweaks and maybe a few new features, at this stage I thought the combat was quite interesting and pretty fun.

Overall I found Bounty Train to be quite fun and a great mix of different gameplay mechanics. While I think the trading and mission mechanics are the most interesting at this point, I think the combat has a lot of potential and could be really could with some small tweaks.

Really Polished For An Early Access Game

Other than being really fun, I was surprised by how polished Bounty Train was at this point in its’ development. The developers have said that a lot more features will be added to the game before the game is finally released. Playing the current version of the game I am actually surprised that the game is not already considered finished. At this time it appears that most of the major mechanics are already in the game. If you want to see all of the planned additions to the game you can check out the Steam page for a list.

While Bounty Train is already really polished there were a couple small issues/additions I would like to see happen in future updates.

  • I wish it was easier to compare prices of goods between different cities. When I wanted to buy goods from one city to sell in another, it kind of felt like a hassle to keep switching between two cities on the map to see the different prices. I kind of wish the game had a menu where you could compare the prices of goods between all of the cities at the same time so it was easier to plan ahead.
  • Since a player can leave cargo, train cars, and passengers in cities to be picked up later, I wish the game would have some way of telling what you have left in each city. Maybe this feature is in the game and I didn’t notice it. Otherwise I hope it gets added in a future update.
  • While the game looks really good, there are a couple of graphical glitches in the game. For example in the game I played one of the characters pictures featured a white man while the character model displayed on screen was a black man. Obviously these are pretty minor overall and I am guessing will be fixed in future updates.
  • At this stage you seem to encounter too many situations where you either have to bribe or fight the enemies you encounter between cities. Since in the early game you don’t have a lot of soldiers, this can make the game quite hard at times. I hope that the developers can find some new ways to resolve these conflicts instead of always having to bribe or attack them. The developers have said that they plan on adding different difficulty levels so this might already be part of their plans.

Should You Be Interested In The Game?

Despite being an early access game, I have to say that I was quite impressed with Bounty Train. The game is already really polished and with additional development I think the game could be even better. Since it is still an early access game, I have to wait until the final game is out in order to give out my final rating for the game

If after reading this preview Bounty Train looks interesting to you, I would highly recommend that you look into the game. I know I can’t wait to see how Bounty Train develops and to check out the final product that is supposed to release in early 2016.

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