Trackline Express Review – All Aboard the Pain Train

trackline express sheep
Trackline Express Review – All Aboard the Pain Train

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Steam

Game Name: Trackline Express

Publisher: Bubblebird Studio

Developer: Bubblebird Studio

Genre: Action, Strategy

Release Date: April 18th, 2024

Trackline Express by Bubblebird Studio

Trackline Express presents itself as a casual, easygoing experience..that is until the environment turns hostile and your train is ambushed by crazy barbarians and malicious scorpions.

Oh, and did I mention the potential wildfires?

Published and developed by Bubblebird Studio, Trackline Express delivers an addictive escapade where taking strategic measures and planning your passengers’ next move is vital to succeeding. I didn’t realize this at first, but as they say, you learn from your mistakes.

Multiple Routes

The beauty of Trackline Express is its multiple gameplay options. A campaign mode is offered in conjunction with a “learn to play” option for novice players.

Additionally, players can dive right in by choosing a randomly generated map, put their survival skills to the test with the daily challenge, or even exercise their creativity with the built-in map editor.

trackline express map editor

The map editor is an innovative addition to Trackline Express. It definitely takes some getting used to, though, and can be a bit of a head-scratcher.

Being deliberate about where resources and challenges are placed is a key component of map-building. Luckily, you can test out your creation at any time to guarantee its functionality.

You can even team up with friends to conquer basic tasks and confront relentless foes. I haven’t gotten to experience multiplayer in Trackline Express yet. However, from what I’ve encountered on my journey as a train passenger, I imagine it’d be helpful to have someone else along for the ride.

Train Training

As a newbie player, I always like to try out a game’s tutorial. Almost immediately, I was enticed by the simple yet vibrant 2D layered art style of Trackline Express. There isn’t anything extraordinary about it, but it pairs perfectly with the atmosphere and overall laid-back nature of the experience.

trackline express 2 passengers attack

You take control of a passenger responsible for collecting the necessary resources to keep the train moving. Naturally, mining for coal will keep your train running.

Acquiring blueprints to unlock tools, weapons, and flatcars for storing your equipment, however, becomes just as critical to your survival. Luckily, recruiting new passengers along the way assists in fighting off the bad guys and gathering resources.

While performing actions, a button will pop up to “boost” the speed of the deed. I haven’t quite figured out what’s accomplished from producing a combo, but it’s still amusing to keep one going.

At random, a market will appear out of thin air, which can be useful when funds are low. Overall, though, it’s not a reliable source of income.

Random rainclouds also materialize to produce raindrops, restoring your passenger’s energy. These chance events are nice and all, but the probability of them happening is fairly low.

Fuel for the Engine

Do yourself a favor and don’t neglect your health points or stamina. Devour the random potatoes you may dig up and take advantage of the various water sources.

As your train moves onward, the only way to return to a previous area is to move your train backward. If there are leftover resources, make use of them before progressing forward. Trust me: time is not on your side, and it’s more of a risk than it’s worth.

trackline express potato

Not to mention, you really want to maintain your coal supply so you’re victorious in reaching the end of the level. I accidentally bit off more than I could chew, chugging to the finish line without realizing I was running low on coal.

I made it inches away from my destination, and my train came to a halt. My resources were scarce and I couldn’t fabricate a mine. My only choice was to start over.

The Verdict

There are a lot of entertaining, yet quirky, features that work together to generate a world that establishes Trackline Express’s replayability. You never run out of maps to conquer, hats to wear, or sheep to throw.

Yes, you read that right. The random components are such a surprise each time you can’t help but find them endearing.

Though laughably frustrating at times, Trackline Express proves that life on a train is no cakewalk.

Trackline Express is available via the Nintendo Store and Steam.

Watch the trailer for Trackline Express: