Voidtrain is an on-rails survival simulator where your train is flying through the mystical void. You pilot the titular Voidtrain through space, collecting debris to research and build modules for your train to go faster through space and to collect more debris.
Unfortunately, that seems to be the limit of the gaming experience with Voidtrain. I found it to be a deeply frustrating experience. The gathering aspect all happens while you are tethered to the train in anti-gravity, around twenty feet or so around your train. To collect enough pieces to research and build the train pieces you must stop the train every twenty seconds to go slowly drifting around to pick up metal, wood and other junk. For each item to be researched, you must collect the pieces that would make the item, and then collect it again to create the thing you just researched. It becomes a deeply frustrating timesink that doesn’t seem to serve any purpose but to slow down the game.
And the game is slow. Stopping the cart to pick up any meaningful amount of resources on the long unending straight track to seemingly nowhere, only to shunt forward a bit to stop again, makes the game into a tedious grind. It is a shame because the first ten minutes of the game hooked me much like Bioshock’s first ten minutes. You are a freezing engineer that stumbles across a mysterious engine shed that has a pump cart parked in it. There are some notes talking about some crazy technology, along with some toy widget experiments that tease an amazing portal-hopping space train experience. You must then fix up the power and it opens a fancy portal to… a long unending straight track that you can float around on your rope attached to a pump truck.
Admittedly, the game is beautiful, with the sky box that you are travelling through giving an initial sense of awe, but this quickly diminishes as you are picking up your 40th piece of wood to research a lab bench. The narration is deliciously campy and sarcastic, which while tonally seems odd, does riff on the steampunk and chap vibes of the game. On a reload of the game, I inexplicably was in a station with a skeleton and a revolver, rifling through files to get some blueprint plans to extend the train. However, it was not explained how to put the train floor on the new carriage. I do think I prefer this way of “researching” by way of finding blueprints, as using resources to research feels like an unnecessary time sink.
Voidtrain feels like a wasted chance, the first ten minutes are adventure mystery perfection. Campy mystery narrative, meaty plot hooks and a steampunk train flying through space! Only to be spent on what feels like one of those “10 hours on the Norwegian express train from Flernskog to Kloggaskn” videos, only slower, with less scenery. I do hope that the development of this early access game does more with the gameplay, because if it continued the first ten minutes, it would be a classic!
Voidtrain is available for PC through Steam Early Access.