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Steaming Onto Steam: Bounty Train

When a game with more stats than sense lands in the RPS inbox, it’s only a matter of time before someone nudges me in the ribs and asks me to take a look. “This looks like your kind of thing,” Graham will murmur, before dropping an actual spreadsheet in my lap and tittering into his hand. “You’ll enjoy this,” John says on occasion. “It’s my tax returns.”

I’m a nerd and watching the Bounty Train trailer has made me realise that my condition is worse than I thought. It’s a game that’s part FTL and part Elite, set in America during the age of rails and steam. It made me realise that I like trains more than I like spaceships.

I want more train games. Not train simulators, which I always hope to fall in love with but never call back for a second date – no, I want murder mysteries, globetrotting and weird rail-bound science fiction. I would definitely play a Snowpiercer RPG. Bounty Train looks a little rusty but I’m intrigued:

Bounty Train is a complex, tactically challenging game. The player has to keep many balls in the air — dealing with real time skirmishes with bandits, trading good for the best prices, resource management, train optimization and keeping the line (and train) in good repair. In addition, Bounty Train confronts the player with historical events, from the onset of the Civil War to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln — and depending on player choices and performance, the course of history may be changed.

Bounty Train borrows elements from many genres and uses them to build a greater whole, a new unique strategy game experience. A masterpiece for strategy fans everywhere.

A masterpiece, eh? I’m just hoping it’ll be more than a curiosity so that I can indulge my inner train-nerd.

Do trains actually rank higher on the nerd spectrum than spaceships? Even though sci-fi is increasingly mainstream, trains are an actual part of daily life for many people, which is about as mainstream as you can get. Steam trains are still quite niche though (shout out to my local steamteam at the East Lancs Railway) and I reckon Star Wars Lego kits are considered cooler than model railways. Of course, it’s probably only a matter of time before Hornby become hot property due to an explosion of hipster railroad cafes made up like dining carriages, with tiny trains running between the tables.

If you were offered a ride on a train or a ride in a spaceship though, it’d seem unusual to pick the train. There’s something about the rails that sets my heart racing though – give me Grand Central over Deep Space 9 any day of the week.

Bounty Train is coming to Steam Early Access on August 17th.

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Adam Smith

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