Dusty Beats is a train conductor, one who has partnered with a living, talking engine called Billy Wylam. Together the duo are off on an adventure, an ambitious quest to find El Dorado. Will you join them on the tracks? I have.
Armoured Engines is a steampunk Western which follows the adventure these two partners in crime embark upon as to find the legendary town of El Dorado. The game is broken up into two elements — story segments which tell you about the world and your journey between each area — and the action filled moments of journeying from place to place. Seeking out El Dorado is a huge task, especially in this steampunk Wild West — where bandits raid the land with their drones, giant monsters, and gadgets!
You can take on missions from a selection of locals along the way as to find new locations. These missions will then force you to have to customise your train and loadout so that you can make it there alive. You are then given a few items to take with you, normally to deliver at the location you are making it to, these can even double as weaponry sometimes. There are two types of carts — open top carts and cabin carts. Cabin carts can be fitted with guns, cannons, and other weapons which automatically fire or give you boosts. The cabin carts can be filled with items you don’t want to use during the journey, or even with people who can help defend the train along the way. The contents of open carts can be used as ammo — which you can physically throw out towards enemies to knock them out of the sky, off of the mountain side, or back down into the water. The various different types of items that are thrown out of open carts all work differently; batteries shock the enemies around them, rocks are flung multiple at a time, and coal is cast out one chunk at a time.
Each type of weapon and cargo has its own strengths and weaknesses — so you will need to plan and balance your loadouts carefully in consideration of the entire journey you will take. There are even intense boss fights every few levels, these can really challenge how you handle a train. Should any of your carts get too damaged along the way then they will break off — forcing you to lose whatever was inside of or, on top of, it.
As previously mentioned there are a bunch of story elements in Armoured Engines. After you accept the journey between each location, you will meet the local resident you are meant to deliver goods to. These characters each have quirky personalities and dialogue. Hopefully you haven’t lost too many carts to bandits and monsters along the way, as it’d be a shame to disappoint them. They will also help you on your journey, sometimes selling you different items or giving you further quests to take on.
Aside from purchasing new carts and weapons, there is also a crafting system which uses the parts you scavenge along the journey which allows you to make items free of charge. I got the chance to play Armoured Engines last year at EGX Rezzed 2017, and more recently at Insomnia62. It has come a long way in that time — feeling like a very balanced, nearly complete game with awesome music as well. Never before have I played a game that seamlessly fuses together steampunk and western, or story and action in the way that Armoured Engines does.