At a time when the British government is implausibly attempting to slash the cost of running railways while simultaneously making them better, it feels appropriate to be playing a game in which one locomotive smashes into another with startling regularity.
If only creating horrific head-on collisions had been the aim of the game then Train Crisis HD might have some blackly comic, Burnout Crash-style appeal.
Instead, developer U-Play Online has created a lovely-looking nightmare of a puzzle game, where the ridiculously steep difficulty curve is only matched by touchscreen controls as unreliable as a UK train timetable.Full steam ahead
Train Crisis HD’s Unity-fuelled graphics give it an instant appeal to anyone with the slightest affection for steam trains and tunnel tracks that disappear through mountains.
Everything from the primary-coloured locomotives, which are the stars of the show (until they explode), to the lushly detailed backgrounds of verdant fields and cacti-strewn dust bowls pop out of the screen with sumptuous quality. Imagine a less minimalistic version of Trainyard on iOS and you won’t be far off.
The goal of the game is survival. You need to get each train from one end of the screen to its matching-coloured siding at the other without colliding with another vehicle, derailing, or - in later levels - not picking up enough money bags to deliver.
Trains move at set speeds and start the moment you hit the 'Play' icon, and the only way you can control their movement is by switching the tracks at certain junctions or temporarily stopping them at an, exceedingly rare, red light.
If you’re not careful, within seconds there’ll be some sort of rail disaster that you can only avoid by pressing the exact combination of junctions and lights the developer intended.
Frustratingly, the touchscreen tap controls are regularly unreliable. Failing a level because you forgot the 11th step in a complex sequence is irksome, but failing because the signal didn’t change when you pressed it is downright excruciating.Grievances on the line
While two further environments are promised, currently there are only two in Train Crisis HD, and the 40 or so levels are actually pretty brief if you can keep your sanity in check long enough to complete them.
Earning enough stars in each stage does unlock a few bonus stages, but the chances are that the finicky controls and often crushing difficulty will mean you’ve run out of steam before you’ll get to ride those rarer rails.