Mining Rail. When playing this I would often stop the game and contemplate whether or not I had become too expectant when it comes to what I want to see from any given game. I’m going to save you the trouble of scrolling straight to the bottom of this page to see its score. Mining Rail is a bad game. Hell, even its few qualities immediately drown in its ocean of downsides. Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself, but I felt compelled to set the record straight from the get-go. If you’re looking for a “roller coaster” game, look elsewhere.
Yes, Mining Rail is described as a roller coaster game that sees you, a miner, speeding through a collection of environments via a mining cart. That, ladies and gentlemen, is about as deep as the game gets. Everything outside of that either makes very little sense, feels tacked on for the sake of it, or is far too confusing to comprehend. Loading up the game, players are introduced to a poorly laid out main menu and UI. Both of which lack any explanation or depth, meaning you’re left to figure everything out yourself.
There’s a statistics screen that will allow you to check out your game history, leaderboards (that fail to load), language selection that’s limited to German and English, some options to tweak and some minor assists to take advantage of. The game supports a total of five difficulty settings; ranging from easy to extreme. There’s the option to select between a male and female avatar, then finally the upgrades and the shop. Upgrades can be purchased through the use of gold, which can also be used to purchase other features.
These features include the likes of buying a “review camera”, which is a nice way of saying that you, the player, needs to save up an absurd amount of gold to enjoy the replay feature; a feature that comes as a standard feature in most games. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the option to buy another POV angle, again, something that comes as a standard in most other games. Gold can also be spent on some more forgivable aspects such as skipping to the next world of stages and buying Gemstones.
Gemstones (used for continuing after an accident in-game) can be purchased for the sum total of 500 gold for ten, one thousand gold for twenty, or two thousand gold for fifty. Though, gold can also be purchased by using Gemstones too; thirty for one thousand gold, sixty for two thousand gold and one hundred and thirty for five thousand gold. The pricing just doesn’t add up, nor does it make much sense. It’s worth pointing out that both of these currencies can be located on the course of your track throughout each stage within.
When you’re done navigating the head-ache inducing main menu, you’ll be ready to dive into the game itself. There’s a brief tutorial that will feed you the basics of play, which to be completely honest, isn’t really that deep. Mining Rail offers eleven different locations to take to; Black Forest, Mediterranean, Fertile Plain, Nordic Coast, Mining Mountains, Volcano Island, Fire Caves and more. Each of these locations come with a set range of tasks across several tracks, most of which are the same map with a slightly different route.
Twenty of these tasks will need to be completed before the next location unlocks, bringing with it its varying tracks. However, in order to unlock a track in the Ghost Mine; a tougher track that’s darker, more dangerous and themed on a Halloween-esque design, ten tasks will need to be completed. Tasks tend to range from something as simple as reaching the terminus, to reaching the terminus without having any accidents. Believe me when I say, no thanks to the tedious layout of each track, that’s a lot harder than it sounds.
Gameplay consists of starting out at the beginning of a mine and rallying it down to the end point whilst keeping up your momentum. Coming to a complete stop, falling out of your cart or hitting something will result in a restart. Players will need to tilt the cart left or right depending on the layout of the track, to avoid derailing. Touching the D-Pad up or down will alternate between the two camera options. Hitting RT will slow down your cart, whereas hitting LT will raise the arms of your character – needed in order to grab items on your path.
It took me a while to figure out, but pressing B will pause the game. Baffling, I know, but true nonetheless. Gemstones are used to purchase continues so that you don’t need to start back at the beginning of a track, should you collide or fall out of your cart. Several hazards will sit between you and the end point, such as deer crossing the tracks, idiot miners holding power-tools over the rails and other like-minded dangers. It’s pretty much standard stuff, only its all practically made redundant by the fact that Mining Rail is not at all fun.
It’s a game that seems better suited for mobile devices and even then, there’s plenty of games that follow the same formula that do it a million times better, for free too. Visually, Mining Rail doesn’t have a great deal to boast about. It looks passable in some places but the lack of detail, grouped with its repetition, wears thin far sooner than it should. The same can be said about the audio cues, which are generic at best. Safe to say that this is one game that’s unnecessary, ridiculously underdeveloped and boring at the very best of times.
Mines are often deep, resourceful and interesting. Mining Rail, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of each. There’s very little that I can say in its defense other than that of its decent and precise control feedback. The presentation is poor, the UI is ugly, the selection of stages are bland if indeed diverse, and its currency and progression system remains far too confusing. Though above all else, it’s just not at all fun to play.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.