In between popping skulls in Cyberpunk 2077 and dismembering demons in DOOM, everyone needs a bit of downtime. Cue Tracks – the Trainset Game, an indie gem developed by Whoop Group which never fails to transport me back to the floor of my lounge at three years old. A real hidden gem, the current player base for this indie game sits around 25 people and has only peaked at 81 since its release.
The game idea is as simple as they get. Take the wooden trainset that everyone had as a child, and put it into a game. If that hasn’t persuaded you to at least look at this already, you might want to get yourself to a shoe shop to buy yourself a soul. You jump into the game: vast whiteness, a single train track, and then you start building, just like you would back when you were a child. There’s nothing that Tracks expects of you, there are no goals and to be frank, there isn’t even really a game in the traditional sense. The game feel is immense, and the entire experience is carried on the back of that feel. The soft classical music that plays in the background, the adorable assets, houses, parks, trees, farmland, animals, lights, shops… they all work toward melting all of the stress that has built up from modern life and turning it into the wholesome village of Plappington, population 250, most of which are sheep.
That’s not all though, because I have been withholding the juiciest piece of Tracks‘ puzzle, and that is once you’ve finished your magnum opus, or if you just want to explore the little world you’ve built bit by bit, you can jump in the wooden train and roll around exploring your environment. You can set the speed of the train, deciding which way to go at intersections, picking up passengers from stations, and most importantly, blowing the whistle.
Every sunny picnic is ruined by wasps though, and as such, I’ll go over the minor gripes I have with the game. Firstly, and most devastatingly, the save function is finicky. Occasionally I’ll be finished for the day, have created a cute city, full of town area, residential and little parks, and I’ll come back to it the next time I have a bad day, and that bad day will be made considerably worse by the fact that I’ve lost almost everything from the previous session. It could just be me, but an important note nonetheless. And although the game is very chill, I can see it getting very repetitive and tedious for some people. Again, there aren’t any goals in Tracks, so if you go into it expecting a game, you’ll probably be disappointed. Don’t expect much other than a nicely put together, wooden train sandbox and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I could go over some of the other cool little features in the game like being able to change the weather, customise the train, tint colours, change skyboxes, and the myriad of cool plop-able aspects that breath more soul into the game, but I think it’s nice to keep this one short and concise. Need some stress relief? Want to relive your childhood? Go check out Tracks.
Tracks is available on PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch right now. Check out the gameplay reveal trailer below.