We’ve seen numerous co-op survival games before, but keeping your train alive is certainly a new one. Having seen an early release last year on PC, Unrailed now jumps to Switch for full release. Developed by Indoor Astronaut, it offers a simple premise and you must stop your train from crashing, guiding it to a nearby station. Allowing 2-4 players to join in, Unrailed proves quite enjoyable but ultimately, there isn’t much else to it.
Levels begin with a slow-paced train that gradually edges towards the end of the tracks, taking place within a procedurally-generated world that incorporates a day and night cycle with additional weather effects. To craft new tracks, each location offers trees to chop down and mineable iron deposits. Co-operation between players is key as there’s only one of each tool and materials need packing into your box wagon upon mining. Once packed, crafting happens automatically and all you need to do is pick them up, laying out the track path.
Should you derail, progress resets and while that can be slightly frustrating, there’s an optional checkpoint mode which lets you restart at the first station to avoid losing much progress. Your train’s engine will begin to overheat over time, too, setting on fire if neglected, and as you might expect, wagons are unusable in this state. It’s an easy fix and there’s always an available bucket to throw water onto them, quickly dousing this. Eventually, you’ll reach the next station which offers new wagons and upgrades.
Primarily, this is designed for co-op and Indoor Astronaut has included local and online multiplayer. Online allows you to communicate with others via an emoji system that signals what you need players to do, though this is quite limited. Outside your default quick play, there’s also a sandbox mode which lets you customise your train with anything previously unlocked. If you’re feeling something more competitive, versus mode is also present, placing you into two teams to see who’s the better track builders. Unrailed provides an AI character for those playing solo, which follows commands by using that same emoji system and, unlike online play, this works surprisingly well.
Despite a well-executed premise and pleasing blocky visual aesthetic, Unrailed is ultimately a short-lived game. It tries to promote replayability with an inbuilt achievement system, leaderboards and different modes, but this doesn’t disguise a lack of depth to the core gameplay. It’s still an enjoyable experience though and whilst solo play won’t hold you for too long, if you can gather a group of friends to join, this is one co-op game worth looking into.