Game: Railway Islands – Puzzle
Genre: Puzzle, Board Game, Strategy
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows), Xbox One/X/S and PS4/5)
Developer | Publisher: Rising Moon Games | QUByte Interactive
Age Rating: US Everyone | EU 3+
Price: US $3.99 | UK £3.59 | EU € 3,99
Release Date: March 2nd, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to QUByte Interactive.
Originally released on Steam, Railway Islands – Puzzle is now available on the Nintendo Switch. The aim is to arrange the hexagonal track pieces, so as to connect the start tunnel with the end tunnel and deliver all the cargo en route.
Will my track switching abilities be first-class or will I never see the light at the end of the tunnel?
Twist Those Train Tracks
There are 50 levels in the puzzle mode ‘campaign’ to test your skills. Thankfully, Railway Islands – Puzzle starts with a few easy ones, where you only have to rotate and swap the hexagonal track pieces.
When you are happy with your route, you send the train off on its journey. Any mistakes, including not delivering all the cargo, and the train will derail. Luckily the game doesn’t reset your arrangement, so you can tweak it as necessary. You must complete the level in order to progress.
The game quickly progresses to incorporate different track types. Railway track switches allow for more complicated layouts. The train will follow the track in the direction of the blue arrow, but once passed that tile, the points change direction. If the switch has a number associated with it then it will change direction after that number of passes.
Inclines and bridges will allow movement between land levels. It can sometimes be difficult to see where the land is higher, but you can rotate the island to clarify it. Some of the bridges have tracks underneath them, so you need to connect both levels properly. All of these additions make it more challenging and interesting to complete. The resulting layout can twist, turn, and go over the same bits of track several times.
It’s lovely to see the seasons change as you progress through the levels, and the sound of the steam train puffing around the track is delightful.
Become an Island Builder
As well as the ‘campaign’ mode, Railway Islands – Puzzle has a ‘workshop’ mode, where you can create your own islands. This is a great addition to the basic puzzle game and allows for creativity.
However, I found creating my own layout quite tricky as the controls are awkward and poorly explained. As well as putting tiles in the wrong place, selecting the desired component was tedious, although there was a handy duplicate option.
If you can overcome the controls’ frustrations, then creating some amazing layouts is possible. Then, once tested, you can upload your island for others to play and marvel at your creativity. It’s also possible to play other user-created islands.
Railway Islands – Puzzle works well in handheld or docked modes, but no touchscreen functionality exists.
The controls are shown on-screen in the first level of ‘campaign’ mode. However, they are not as intuitive as they could be. Moving to different tiles is not always smooth, as you can not move over the board’s edge. Sometimes a selected tile doesn’t respond to the rotation request as the cursor isn’t in the right place, and when swapping tiles, the default tile can change unexpectedly.
The ‘workshop’ mode is very fiddly, and it took a test of all the buttons to find out some of the controls. The game relies on a change of colour as a method of selection, these include grey to white and black to dark green, and it can be exceptionally difficult to see the subtle change.
Although Railway Islands – Puzzle isn’t overly challenging, around 5 minutes per level, completing the levels is still satisfying. I did find a couple of the levels quite tricky, so it took around 6 hours in total to complete.
Although the controls are slightly awkward, Railway Islands – Puzzle is a fun little puzzle game. There are a few challenging levels to test your puzzle-solving skills, but every level, regardless of complexity, gives an air of satisfaction when completed.
Final Verdict: I Like it