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Railbound review - "A mix of cosy vibes and puzzling frustration"

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Railbound review - "A mix of cosy vibes and puzzling frustration"

Is there anything more wholesome than two doggos hopping on a train on a mission to connect the world? Railbound offers plenty of warm and fuzzy feelings players can bask in with its charming visuals and cosy background music, but does the premium game have enough going for it to make sure it's worth every penny?

Table of contents:

RAILBOUND VISUALS AND CONTROLS

The track-bending puzzler features adorable character art that tells a heartwarming story without the need for any dialogue. Players can enjoy a wholesome little treat at the end of every chapter with snippets of postcard-esque scenes between the two furry protagonists, whether they're having a peaceful picnic on a glorious afternoon or struggling to figure out how to move past a fallen tree branch on the train tracks.

The cute artwork extends to the puzzles themselves, as trains, tracks and backgrounds are all presented with lovely 2D artwork. Controls are extremely intuitive on the touchscreen, as players simply have to drag their finger around to connect tracks or remove them to get from point A to point B. You can do all these as a totally chill background score serenades you across different levels, from snow-covered landscapes to forests teeming with vibrant greenery.

THE GAMEPLAY OF RAILBOUND

The main goal is simple - you'll have to connect numbered train cars in the right order to progress through the levels. There are no time limits or countdowns here, so you can take your sweet time racking your brain to come up with solutions to each puzzle. There is, however, a move counter that limits the number of moves you can use to get to the solution.

Thankfully, there's a handy undo button that lets you retrace your steps when you inevitably mess up your tracks thanks to the old trial-and-error method. When you feel like you've got the solution, you can "play" the scenario to see if the train moves the way you want it to. In a way, this kind of mechanic reminds me of Sierra's "Sid and Al's Incredible Toons" from the MS-DOS era in that while each new puzzle is challenging, completing them feels immensely satisfying.

WHAT'S THE APPEAL?

The problem here, at least for me, is that the puzzles do get progressively more challenging as you go deeper through the game, and I felt like my puzzle-solving prowess just wasn't sharp enough. I also spent a good amount of time getting stuck at a certain level only to find out that there's a hint system you can enable in the settings menu.

Of course, with the hint system, I was able to clear the levels with more ease. The game doesn't spoonfeed you with its hints, either - it'll simply give you a small nudge in the right direction and wait for you to figure it out yourself. You can also unlock all levels at once if you're eager to skip ahead - but what's the challenge in that? Also, if you skip through puzzles, you might have a hard time figuring out what to do in the later levels, as each new element is introduced bit by bit in the earlier stages.

For instance, you'll have to use barriers, signals, switches and so on to guide the carts to where they should go. Skipping the earlier levels will leave you at a loss about how and where you can use these to your advantage.

While I didn't particularly enjoy the difficulty level of the game, what ultimately got me sold was the artwork and the two doggos trying to live their best life. Perhaps the puzzles just weren't my cup of tea, but if you're the type of puzzle enthusiast looking for a wholesome challenge on mobile, Railbound might just be yours.

Railbound review - "A mix of cosy vibes and puzzling frustration"

Railbound is a wholesome puzzler featuring lovely graphics and an even lovelier soundtrack. The puzzles were too frustrating for my taste without the hints, but it might just be your best bet if you're looking for a new intellectual challenge on your mobile device this month.
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