Papercraft point & clicker Dark Train is free today

Dark Train

It’s been a long time since we’ve covered Dark Train, a strange papercraft point-and-click adventure. Originally launched this time last year, it scooped up some awards along the way, but has otherwise flown low under the radar.

To celebrate its first anniversary, Czech developer Paperash Studio have decided to make the game free on Itch.io, giving us a chance to explore its bizarre worlds within worlds from the perspective of a mechanical squid.

Set aboard a strange train in a gothic steampunk world, you play as ANN 2.35f, aforementioned mechanical squid who doubles as your mouse cursor. Beyond the regular pointing and clicking you’d expect, ANN is a real physical presence in the game-world. The tip of her head can be used to press and nudge and sometimes cut things, while her tentacles can grab and lift and drag objects found in the world.

There’s no dialogue, no lore and no overt exposition. Instead, you poke and prod and stretch at your limits as you explore the environment, the oddest part of which is the world inside the train itself. Each car contains an environment with its own puzzles, which connect with the ‘outside’ world in their own strange way.

I’ll have to sink some more time into this one sometime later this week. If your monitor is on the murky side, I recommend bumping the brightness up a little. Dark Train lives up to its name, and some finer details and important interactive objects might get lost if your screen isn’t calibrated quite right.

You should probably give the developer’s site a look, too. Somehow, the English-as-second-language nature of it makes even the most mechanical descriptions of the game sound like a strange and arcane ritual. Whether intentional or not, it’s a fascinating read. Paperash aren’t done with the Dark Train universe either, with Dark Train Coupe presently in production, a visual novel prequel to the main, textless game.

For the next two days, you can claim Dark Train, DRM-free on Itch.io, or get a Steam key for the game if you pay half a dollar or more.

24 Comments

  1. Scobie says:

    I have played this game, and would like to think that the reason it flew under the radar is because it was rubbish.

    • newton says:

      Quite the contrary. It’s very obscure, which can be quite off-putting, for sure. But if you take your time, many of the puzzles are DELICIOUS and the art / sound design makes for one of the most mesmerizing gaming experiences I’ve ever had.

      I wonder why RPS never did a proper review of this little gem.

      • subprogram32 says:

        My favourate part is jsut how the carriages changed to fit their themes when combined together. Some of that art was really striking.

    • Paperash Studio says:

      Hi and thanks for your opinion and for that you tried Dark Train!

      Somebody loves it and somebody hates is. We know that visual can bring attention, but we more appreciate our narrative and different adventure gameplay (no point n click) and this two features one can love and other can hate. We accept this since we have really diverse reviews from 90% – 55% that are primarily focusing on these things.

      Anyway the game industry is oversized and for RPS has to be hard to spot / cover everything. In the past, we sent our press releases (hope not rubbish ones).

      • Scobie says:

        OK, so had I considered the possibility that the dev might read this I would have been a bit more diplomatic, sorry about that. To clarify my not especially helpful original comment, I loved the look and atmosphere of this game, which is why I bought it, but I found the puzzles very unintuitive and consequently frustrating — a lot of just poking things until you find the thing that does the thing. Surreality and abstraction make for a compelling feel but maybe aren’t a good fit for a puzzle game where you have to work things out. Regardless, I wish you every success in your future endeavours, and I hope I didn’t offend you too much with my thoughtless blathering.

  2. subprogram32 says:

    I on the other hand really liked the game, and was suprised that it never got any notice on release from RPS, considering that was how I found out about the game in the first place. Even gave it a second playthough more recently to help find the new content they added in.
    Also in addition to the Coupe prequal thingy, the actual Dark Train game itself is supposed to be the first of 3 parts, as the map thing on part of the train strongly indicates.

    • Paperash Studio says:

      Thanks for the support! <3 … and yeah you have right, Dark Train is planned to have 3 standalone games.

      But beware, Dark Train: Coupe is prequel spin-off (not counting into these 3 Dark Train SA games) ;)

  3. Kushiel says:

    What’s “papercraft”?

  4. Paperash Studio says:

    Hi! Thanks for the support to all readers and RPS! <3

    To make it right, RPS wrote about us back in 2015 link to rockpapershotgun.com

    Since then we tried to make another contact but without success. About the game itself, we have really diverse reviews from 90% to 55%. It is not the game for everybody. Sure, it can draw your attention through visual but we hope it has more potential in our narrative gameplay.

    The game itself is without any guide and it is not point n click adventure because you control everything with physics of the main character – mechanical squid Ann 2.35. => These two features one person could love but another person can hate it… We think it is also the explanation of the diversity of our reviews.

    Anyway, you can try it. Here are some STEAM keys for RPS true readers :)

    CX94C-H2I7G-AFBCD
    9VXA2-TZFPT-NGB73
    4R2XT-8N7A3-M744X
    JNVJK-W098V-C28RW
    BFFFL-ZP6AB-23L07
    8M7FZ-H8HAE-EM63X
    FZQMC-4IVVT-H92MB
    V0323-H2JYR-BKACE
    XYXLY-2HX9B-RXPM4
    ETCFD-JN9H7-H2YWE
    4BX5G-KP800-HW942
    DGA0Y-5FIDM-L6EDV
    PBGWN-203KB-GXEJK

    • subprogram32 says:

      I have already played it if course but that is very generous! :D

    • mac4 says:

      Thanks, guys. Much obliged.

      Giving it a look now. Oh, that is atmospheric and pretty. Puzzling isn’t my forte but I did find my way to the second frame now, lol ;)

      • Paperash Studio says:

        Hehe thanks! Don’t give it up! Some puzzles are hard some are easy… It is totally fine to feel stressed sometimes then turn off game and then turn it on – own experience :)

        • mac4 says:

          Thanks. I did now buy the soundtrack;* it ain’t much, but, as a modicum of support. (Plus, I’m becoming something of a gaming soundtrack collector. Some amazing stuff out there, in and of itself, and it’s a bit of a nice side-effect of this gaming.)

          Love the handwork, and the dedication. And ah, yes, Czech animation art. Great to see it continued in the field of gaming.

          I did get my train up & running and to the title screen and beyond, so… if I can do, surely dedicated puzzlers can ;) (I’m guessing my better half should love this.)

          Seriously, if not infrequently I get jaded with the gaming experience a s a whole, what never ceases to amaze me is these wonderful worlds we get presented with.

          I was somewhat reminded of Tengami link to store.steampowered.com , which again isn’t my thing per se, and I haven’t played it, but I gifted it to a friend who is a pop-up book lover.

          Anyway, happy 1-year anniversary then, and keep up the good work.

          * Edit, and now listening to it. Yes, needless to say it too is nice. Harp For Seventeen Minutes, lol ;)

          • Paperash Studio says:

            Hi and again thanks for the support! <3 Tengami is really nice tip for our wishlist!

            About Harp For Seventeen Minutes, have you seen this? :) link to youtu.be

          • mac4 says:

            Ah, yes, nice vid. And it is a nice piece, of course.

            That track “Abnormitron” meanwhile I found positively spooky. Brrr ;)

    • Premium User Badge

      Gnarl says:

      For those, like me, that thought about just checking to see if the codes are all gone a week later, they are.

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