Review by Richard Winstone
Railroad Corporation, will it Steam ahead in the tycoon gaming genre or slowly chug into oblivion….
Brought to us by Corbie games, the developers second title and published by the well known Iceberg Interactive who have brought us various titles including Pax Nova and Conarium. So a new studio, a new game, currently in early access, So let’s get into it.
Combining a management game with strategy, early 19th Century, during the golden age of rail networks. You start off working for a large corporation, each giving the same story but with a different range of assistance and resistance as you progress through the game.
So, the basic is creating train lines and running shipping, passengers between various cities. A really enjoyable mechanic is planning your route based upon the terrain, do you divert around a mountain extending the route by a hundred miles, or tunnel through it at great cost? Your actions have a direct effect on the town’s, they can remain small or you can grow the population and increase future profit by supplying the town with what it needs, some mission will require you to grow the population in various towns and cities to gain favor with the local governments.
Railroad corporation gently introduces you with a range of tasks, transport x amount of people between places, supply a town with wood, coal, etc. and you begin to build your network managing your trains, your brought into the economy side, strategically buying factories for supply mission all the while ensuring you can keep up the running cost of your network. Wait to slowly build up your money, or run the risk of using loans and bonds to boost your bank balance and risk going bankrupt.
As your experience and network grow you are introduced to research and development, allowing you to not only unlock new faster more powerful trains, but extend there lifespan and power, make them more efficient, etc. You can open an HR department hiring staff to give your various buff from saving money on goods to cheaper construction cost and even getting into local law, lobbying for beneficial laws.
After each chapter, you’re rewarded with experience point based on how fast you complete the set challenges allowing you to unlock various buffs.
You learn fast that every decision, particularly at the start of a chapter, is critical, risky moves can pay off big or bankrupt you in seconds. And managing 10+ trains with the local economies changing can be demanding but luckily the pause button gives you time to reflex and adjust giving you a little rest bite. Currently, the campaign mode only runs up to chapter 6 and I have had a great time getting there when you’re making big bank, it’s easy to get lost for hours in micromanaging every aspect of your network, planning ahead buying up factories and farms before you connect the network increasing their value.
The graphics are great minor details in the bridges and banking you create as you expand and the little details like tractors ploughing the fields, it always a nice little surprise when you spot them along your journey from economic power. The user interface is fairly simple and well planned out, which is a good thing as the information available can soon wrack up particularly towards the end of the currently available campaign.
I simply love the music, you’re transported back to the turn of the 19th century, various smooth melodic tracks appropriate for the era add a level of relaxation
Overall I think Railroad Corporation is a great title with a bright future ahead of itself, Usually, strategy games are a little bias in your favor, this isn’t the case its very well balanced and if you plan out your future goals and plan ahead, why buy a coal mine when you can only supply one town when a local farm could supply three, I had to restart several missions multiple times and that lead me to begin a game by planning out my first 5 or 6 route before even laying a track.
The current steam reviews are mostly positive many of the negatives have since been resolved in the latest patch, being inquisitive as I am, I took a quick look at the negatives just in case I missed anything myself and found some crazy reviews like a player who racked up 26 hours and claimed he couldn’t load the first mission, another that proceeds to tell you how basic the game is (this game is anything but basic) while racking up a massive 0.1hr of gameplay many other’s point out it has some flaws being in early access, this is to be expected.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to try the multiplayer option with it being in early access the player base is limited and it requires you to start a match an wait for another player to join before launching, after a 30 minutes I lost my patience and continues with a second campaign play through, I really am looking forward to the sandbox mode that will be unlocked on full release of the game.
As glowing as this review has been there is one thing that really bugged me particularly towards the end of the game where I had 1000’s of miles of railroad laid, any new trains have to start at your original station, you have the ability to upgrade train stations and I believe adding an upgrade option for a train depot maybe with a costing of 30-50k allowing you to order trains at multiple locations without having to send them through existing routes disrupting services and taking several in-game days to arrive at the desired destination.
This is a great game for any strategy game fan, fun, relaxing but keeping a decent level of difficulty that makes the game very rewarding.
Railroad Corporation is hive approved 8.5/10