The Train episode 01 in Review – Magic can be a crime.

Even with such adventures as HECTOR: Badge of Carnage Ep1 (TMA Review), 1112 episode 01, episode 02 (TMA Review) having great success on the App Store and earning a well-deserved place in iTunes’ featured section, one originally designed for the iDevice is still a rare guest on my iPhone. Of course there are many reasons for this, both financial and not, but it still pains my heart to see this happen. Nevertheless as the platform matures, we are starting to see more and more developers stepping up to fill the void and who knows, maybe some will earn the right to join our The App Store’s Best Adventure. Tonight’s contender is The Train episode 01, so let’s see if it stands up to the challenge.

The Train finds its roots in the classic first-person adventure games. The story is set in the not-so-distant future following a global catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Our world as we know it has merged with a parallel dimension and the rules have changed… forever. Magic has entered the life of man and one man has emerged to claim it as his own. A powerful wizard known to most as the Great Emperor, has established totalitarian rule over the whole planet, with all known magic users hunted down like animals. But some survive and hide in the masses. Our protagonist is one such mage, trying to get to his loved one via the single available mode of transport – The Train.

As with many first-person adventures, The Train doesn’t rely too heavily on communication with other characters. On your way you’ll meet about a dozen in all and with most you’ll only exchange a few brief phrases. Despite that I must admit the characters themselves are quite distinct and not easily placed in common archetypes. In addition to these limited interactions you’ll get some items (usually not more than 2-3 at one time) and a few mini-game-like puzzles to play with. Most interactions are quite obvious with the only challenge being the iDevice equivavalent of pixel-hunting.

Before I start rambling about the interface I would like to note something about the graphics – they’re excellent. Everything is hand-drawn in an original style and even despite the lack of Retina-display support look great on the iDevice. The Train also doesn’t have voiceovers, but the music is sufficient to get you in the right frame of mind for playing the game.

Now to the interface. Well… it exists… Sadly that’s the best that can be said about that. For one thing, probably the first for any iDevice first-person adventure, panning the screen is NOT done with a simple swipe. Instead there is a horribly unwieldy virtual pad of a sorts on the bottom left. Additionally there isn’t any indication of the hotspots on screen and even with the extremely limited inventory you’ll find yourself blindly tapping on the whole game area in the hopes of something good happening. Finally, saving the game is a whole different challenge with no way to know if you have done so successfully, or where the save will leave you.

It’s difficult to judge the first episode of The Train. On one hand the developers have put in an original backstory, great hand-drawn graphics and reasonable writing. On the other, the horrible interface courtesy of GameSalad makes it impossible to truly enjoy the game, with even the simplest action at times becoming frustratingly hard. But if the devs learn their lesson and redo it from scratch this could definitely be a series to watch out for.

With this I declare The Train episode 01 officially touched!

App Summary
Title: The Train episode 01Developer: The Moonwalls
Reviewed Ver:1.2Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$2.99App Size:158.56MB
  • Nice graphics
  • Original backstory
  • Horrible interface
  • Puzzles a bit on the easy side
  • Limited inventory and NPC interactions

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