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Gilded Rails

by Anaea Lay

Historical
2018

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Number of Reviews: 1
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A railroad sim with a ton of romantic options but a lot of unevenness, August 15, 2020
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours
This game is currently the lowest-rated game on the Choice of Games omnibus app.

That doesn't correspond directly to quality; the two Nebula-nominated games (Rent-a-Vice and The Martian Job) are in the lower third of the app store, and I enjoyed both of those quite a bit.

In this game, you play as a young heir to a railroad line. As temporary president, it's up to you to prove you can be permanent president. Also, your favor wants you to get married.

There are an enormous number of romantic options (at least 8, I think?). There is also a recurring monthly budget meeting, similar to Methuman, Inc. but less consistent.

An unusual feature of the game is that its difficulty is set by the very first choice, which is not advertised to you directly. It asks if you are ready for the game, which I thought indicated some kind of 'intro to choicescript' or stats explanations.

I'm going to break this one down with my 5 point system:

-Polish: The game is very uneven at times. It swerves between the railroad management, playing with your cat, and romances. I found several bugs, including raw Choicescript code, getting an ending saying I never had my company sold to a larger company when I did, and getting engaged, then having a failed proposal, then having a marriage to the same person all in a row.

On the other hand, it has to be weighed against the games big ambitions. The more a game attempts, the more forgiving I feel towards bugs. On the other other hand, even larger and similarly ambitious games like Creme de la Creme and Tally Ho seemed more polished.

+Interactivity:This is a bit hard to measure,as I accidentally chose the greatest difficulty. I felt like I had real agency. I got frustrated with the money management so I sold the company, and the story let me do it, presumably changing quite a bit. The romantic direction I pursued had several scenes set up for it which were clearly tailored towards just this person. I was able to enter into and back out of anything I wanted at any time (except once when my father offered me a favor; I didn't have the chance to turn it down).

+Emotional Impact: Well, I certainly felt a lot of things while playing. The unevenness of the game blunted the emotional impact, but I was genuinely invested in my character's life and quite alarmed by several developments (in my hard playthrough, I had disasters ranging from passenger to death to industrial sabotage to extortion).

+Descriptiveness: This game is very descriptive. I was able to vividly picture everything. This is perhaps its best trait.

+Would I play again?: Yes. The numerous branches and the different difficulty levels make me want to return to this one eventually.