RAILGRADE Review thumbnail

RAILGRADE Review

Freight out of 10

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a Nintendo Switch on 🛤️

RAILGRADE is rated Everyone by the ESRB

If you enjoy tinkering with variables in order to optimize efficiency then I have a cool sim game for you; introducing RAILGRADE.

│ Nothing causes more disappointment than hype so at Video Chums, we avoid hyping games prior to playing them for ourselves. 🤩

RAILGRADE screenshot 1
Pro tip: you don't want to water your city too much

What is RAILGRADE?

As a train game enthusiast, I must say that RAILGRADE provides a unique experience. Whereas similar games like Railway Empire offer huge maps that are a ton of fun to connect, RAILGRADE opts to keep things rather small-scale and regional. This actually works in its favour as it's all about laying tracks and making tweaks in order to fulfill goals as quickly as possible. It's not as arcade-like as Train Valley nor is it as challenging yet it still manages to make its gameplay consistently engaging, especially if you enjoy slowly piecing together ideal solutions to fulfill various criteria. In this sense, it's as much of a logic puzzle game as it is a sim and it adds up to one fulfilling formula. v1d30chumz 44-210-77-106

Work with me here

Perhaps RAILGRADE's greatest element is how intuitive and streamlined everything is presented. Even though most stages will have you devise solutions on your own and you have ultimate freedom in where you place your tracks and how your trains run on them, the interface is fantastic in giving you all of the information that you'll need in order to succeed. For example, by clicking on a factory, you can clearly see which resources are required and where the products can be sent complete with coloured lines that point exactly where they are. You can also allocate human resources as well as pour money into upgrading facilities and when you factor in bonuses such as catalysts that make things run smoother, you're left with a very hands-on experience that will keep you hooked. 🚂

RAILGRADE screenshot 2
Can I energize my city with the power of rock?

Optimize efficiency

As you can tell, there are a lot of elements that compose RAILGRADE's gameplay and more are introduced as the campaign progresses. At the start, you'll ponder aspects such as "Should I make this short track a simple point A to B trip or create a circuit that allows multiple trains to continuously carry materials between the 2 points?" Then, as things open up, you'll consider additional mechanics such as alternating track routes and how much of your resources should you sell as opposed to manufacture goods with. All of these decisions will be made with the ultimate goal of completing stages as quickly as you can which will grant you a rank according to how efficient you were. Seeing as there are an absurd amount of stages to master, you'll be at it for a long time before you complete it all. 😄

Unlock cool things

You may be wondering what the point of mastering stages is besides seeing those satisfying S-ranks pop up and the answer is that you'll unlock a wealth of content via redeemable vouchers. Not only will you be given access to nifty items such as additional music tracks, you'll also acquire useful in-game content such as facility upgrades and custom train engines which will add even more possibilities to the already open-ended gameplay. On the overworld map, you'll also discover bonus missions that reward you with even more vouchers. Considering each stage takes anywhere from 10 minutes to over half an hour to complete, you're looking at a great deal of content. 👍

A few boxcars short

Even though it's a great game, RAILGRADE has its shortcomings. The most notable of which is that I wish it had an overarching goal. Sure, completing stages will make you imagine that the whole overworld that you're working within is becoming more industrial but you don't really get to see the specific levels interact with one another. I imagine that if you completed a stage then connected it to the next one, that would have made for a more rewarding campaign overall. As it is, merely completing stages doesn't feel quite as satisfying as similar games are. Speaking of which, many of the stages are a bit too similar to each other which eventually makes the gameplay run out of steam as you'll encounter many familiar scenarios and doing so renders otherwise fun tasks to occasionally feel like busywork. 🥺

RAILGRADE screenshot 3
Those who smelt it, dealt it

RAILGRADE is a superb sim that acts more like a logic puzzle game in many of its more elaborate scenarios. So, if you enjoy tinkering with routes and managing resources for optimal efficiency then you'll have a great time with this choo-choo.

  • + Highly entertaining stage-based gameplay that rewards efficient planning
  • + Huge campaign with tons of challenges
  • + Intuitive interface and unambiguous visuals
  • - Could use more modes and overarching goals
  • - Certain stage setups become too familiar
8.1 out of 10
Gameplay video for RAILGRADE thumbnail
Watch A.J. play RAILGRADE
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