Choo-Choo Charles assessment: off the rails survival horror

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Speaking as a grown-ass man, I like trains. Not to the extent that I’ll ever hassle to be taught something about them, or to determine one with any extra specificity than “the sharp kind”, “the blunt kind” and “the chugga chugga choo choo all-aboard kind”, however to the far milder extent that I merely get pleasure from watching them whizz across the place like huge metallic worms, and listening to their numerous little noises and honks. It’s trains!

Just as a prepare could be lured right into a station with the promise of recent passengers (that are like treats to trains), I’ve been drawn inexorably towards Choo-Choo Charles, a ramshackle joke-game a couple of scary prepare that chases you round. Marooned on a perpetually darkish island, you’re stalked by a monstrous locomotive with a set of nice huge spider legs and an unquenchable thirst for human blood.

Is it any good? Well no, it’s endearingly shonky, very quick and irritating to play for any size of time. Sorry to be a blunt prepare about it. Choo-Choo Charles is a figment of a reminiscence of a meme, extruded via the glowing thoughts of a one-man improvement workforce, an individual good and devoted sufficient to see their foolish little concept via to completion.

Imagine not solely conceiving of a world by which a nightmarish Thomas the Tank Engine repeatedly emerges from the woods to homicide you — an accomplishment in itself — however sitting down and truly making the factor and promoting it to individuals for actual cash. It’s actually commendable stuff. That humble Choo-Choo Charles was catapulted into mainstream consciousness by an early viral trailer is a testomony to how interesting the idea is, and it’s not for a scarcity of ambition that it falls means wanting the web’s giddiest expectations.

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Anyway, right here’s the way it works. You have your individual armoured prepare, which isn’t alive, however which helps you to trip across the small island on a sequence of interconnected railway tracks. This is your base of operations as you journey between a handful of optionally available NPCs and 4 main-quest NPCs. In very quick order you be taught that this accursed island is residence to Charles, a maniacal arachnid prepare who seems each 5 to 10 minutes to get you.

“In very quick order you be taught that this accursed island is residence to Charles, a maniacal arachnid prepare who seems each 5 to 10 minutes to get you”

At first, Charles will get you each time. Your prepare has a gun mounted on the again, which you should use to shave millimetres off the monster’s well being bar as he chases you up and down the tracks. The gun overheats shortly sufficient that firing rounds into the horrible train-creature’s grinning face is barely much less enjoyable than simply giving up and succumbing to his murderous embrace. Dying robs you of a few items of scrap — the foreign money of the game discovered littered in all places — however in any other case no progress is misplaced.

As you proceed from NPC to NPC you’ll be able to earn sufficient scrap to degree up your prepare’s well being, pace and assault injury, although upgrading your prepare has a barely discernible impact in your encounters with Charles, which by this stage are quickly changing into much less horrifying and extra irritating, like being hounded by a territorial chihuahua.

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On foot you stand a greater probability of survival, as the large spider-train is unable to deal with navigating its means round such obstacles as small piles of bricks and entrance porches. Watching Charles flailing round exterior of a shack, he all of a sudden appears pathetic and small, his wretched legs glitching via partitions, his rictus grin and plate-sized eyes trying more and more like this foul creature is hiding some deep, underlying disappointment. Pity Charles, the spider prepare cursed with simply sufficient synthetic intelligence to need to homicide you, however not sufficient to have the ability to stroll up a step.

Besides the massive dangerous prepare, you sometimes face off in opposition to human enemies armed with weapons, who jealously guard the island’s three macguffins: a set of glowing inexperienced eggs that, when positioned in a temple within the centre of the island, will summon our boy Charles for a mortal showdown. You’re unarmed when exterior of your prepare, and whereas the game means that it’s in some way attainable to stealth previous these human guards by leaning round corners and timing your strategy, in apply these eagle-eyed enemies spot you means too simply.

Instead, grabbing the eggs is extra readily achieved by sprinting previous the guards such as you’re a World Cup pitch invader, besides as an alternative of risking your life to face up for LGBTQ rights, you’re cradling a scorching, football-sized egg and reserving it again to the little yellow prepare the place you reside (which, come to consider it, additionally provides off queer vibes).

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Just a few hours is all it takes to scoop up the game’s predominant goals, and never for much longer to shine off the optionally available quests. These offer you new weapons on your prepare and sufficient scrap to finish all three upgrades, which is successfully required to efficiently duel Charles. These optionally available quests are restricted of their scope and selection, and have a tendency to boil right down to fetching an object from a couple of hundred metres away, or a little bit of tedious platforming. The voice appearing and crude animation is adorably goofy, and the environments you’re tootling round in lack a lot element or character — the island is a type of homogenous, sparse, muddy forest with only a few factors of curiosity to distinguish one a part of the map from one other.

There’s not an entire lot extra to see or do in Choo-Choo Charles than what was proven within the fateful trailer that introduced this goofy little one-man venture kicking and screaming into the limelight. And disgrace on me and also you for asking any extra of its developer than simply that. It’s a enjoyable and unique idea, stretched so thinly that it’s snapped again and pinged us within the eye. We need to be underwhelmed by it, and its creator must be lauded as a prodigy of the horror style all the identical.

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