Moontrain Review – To the Stars

Moontrain Review – To the Stars

Platforms: Windows PC, Mac, Steam

Game Name: Moontrain

Publisher: Dragonseye

Developer: Dragonseye

Genre: Adventure

Release Date: July 7th, 2022

Moontrain by Dragonseye

Retired circus old-timer and anthropomorphic mouse, Max Vigor, needs my help. He tells me that I’m the 33rd detective he’s approached about the decades-old mystery of what happened to his friend and colleague Sam the Magician (also a mouseman.)

Honestly, I was kinda hooked on noir-ish Moon Train from the get-go, and that was a big surprise because I honestly wasn’t looking forward to this colorful point-and-click adventure. It’s just not my forte – obscure puzzles make me regret my life choices – but this little four-hour romp was something decidedly less irritating and, dare I say, entertaining.

The good people at Dragonseye have created a polished, retro-futuristic/steampunk kinda world here with some interesting and effective gameplay ideas helping it to stand out in my mind. And even though they clearly made it on a small budget, there’s a lot of imagination and care on view here. Its Euro-janky, cartoony charm sincerely tried to give me a good time.

Eye of the Beholder

It’s a hidden object game with puzzles within puzzles in a very satisfying multi-layered way. For veterans, I think, the game would be an easy ride, but that’s only because the vast majority of the puzzles actually make some kind of sense and, generally speaking, they’re self-contained on a single screen. Sometimes, larger scenes require keeping track of more moving parts and searching for more secrets, but tools and toolbags are found in the trunk of a car, for example, and not up a tree or something stupid like that.

story flashbacks are told in old black and white film style

Riddle Me This

There were times when things did get a bit wobbly, but with unlimited (optional) hints, I was never beyond hope. And usually, after smashing the dam of a tricky little head-scratcher, the solutions suddenly flowed freely, and the narrative was allowed to keep moving. I felt a desire to continue because I wasn’t hitting my head off a wall in order to achieve continuity.

Equally, when the cursor becomes a pair of cogs, showing that something specific is required at that particular spot, the damn game only went and TOLD me exactly what I needed. And so the search began to find that item. It’s a huge detail that made my time so much more enjoyable and wasted far less time. (Of course, some inventory items need to be combined, but it’s not too often, and it’s certainly not unnecessarily illogical.)

Character chats are brief and to the point

Another little trick I liked was during short, fully-voiced story sequences, the lines of voice-over dialogue wouldn’t move on until I found and correctly replaced a missing piece of the static flashback screen. In that way, story beats felt more engaging but not so complicated that they slowed anything down. Again, just a very small pivot from the norm but very much to the designers’ credit.

Panoramic view keeps everything on one screen and the environment more easily digestible

Overall, I enjoyed Moontrain because it respected my time, looked attractive, offered a wide variety of puzzles and mini-games, and did these things in the service of a story that could’ve been deeper – the idea of the Moontrain itself is intriguing though never investigated – but is by no means trying to be more than its budget allows.

I’m always grateful for something that surprises me with oil on an old hinge.

Moontrain is available via Steam.

Watch the trailer for Moontrain below:

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