Timelapse Vertigo begun development on UnderRail seven years ago. While originally a solo effort conducted by Dejan Radisic, it later amassed a team at Stygian Software – along with the original developer. The game finally launched on December 18th, exiting its Early Access period and entering a full release state.
The game’s history is important because it can be easily mistaken for a 90s video game. While indeed it yells retro gaming from its every nook and cranny, it blends modern-era game mechanics with elements that made the first two Fallout games popular. It’s like a divine gift from a nostalgia God.
Our GameSniped video game review will go into detail explaining why this isometric 90s-infused RPG title is worth playing if you’re itching for that by-gone-era feel. This game is clearly a student of the Fallout and Arcanum academy, but can it make a name for itself? Find out below.
UnderRail Review – The Spiritual Successor to the Original Fallout Games
From the get go, the UnderRail game is fun and incredibly unforgiving. The tile, turn-based combat and the isometric vintage perspective have made fans of the genre call it “the game Fallout 3 should have been.” Everything from how creating your player, perks and skills, to the combat system mechanics is exactly like you’ve imagined a truly classic, isometric RPG would offer.
Why fix something that clearly isn’t broken? It worked roughly 18 years ago, and with a little bit of polishing here and there, it’s suited for 2016 as well.
This doesn’t mean that UnderRail is devoid of any original thought. A crafting system is in place that actually makes sense – a system that we would have loved in the first Fallout games. If you’re in a post-apocalyptic world you better believe you’ll scavenge all the seemingly-useless objects just to concoct something as simple as a toothbrush.
There’s a more intuitive approach to how a players uses stealth to sneak around, and a quite interesting new experience system, which focuses more on exploration rather than on combat proficiency. Yet, the latter is both optional and viable to progression. Also, this game adds a few cyberpunk elements I really enjoyed, such as psionic spell-like abilities that help in combat and in situations where skirmishes can be avoided if the right touch is applied.
Even where the Fallout series reigns as king, this game manages to claw its way there besides those classics. The story, the writing, the art-style and the atmosphere are absolutely fantastic. Plot-lines aren’t that complex or filled with little references that only die-hard gamers understand, and the writing isn’t shallow or flat. It manages to provoke an emotional investment that reminds us older gamers of the 90s era PC games.
Finally, a video-game that doesn’t have everything streamlined. A game that isn’t that user-friendly and tailor made for the younger console gamers, and lets the individual, the gamer, actually struggle to understand the game mechanics instead of spoon feeding him or her with lazy, overly indulgent design.
The post-apocalyptic backdrop isn’t anything new. From video-games, to movies and books, there are countless of stories and experiences based on what humanity will do in the event of a nuclear fallout.
Yet, UnderRail seems to keep the same old traditional elements that made the classics, well, classics. However, it brings new ideas to the table that polish those values. The game ends up spinning a refreshing tale that doesn’t seem overly far fetched but is still intriguing enough to keep you vested in the characters throughout the entire playthrough.
Living on the surface of the planet isn’t possible anymore, and humanity must find a way to continue living under the planet’s toxic surface. This results in a vast network of subway lines and stations called UnderRail.
Players will begin as a greenhorn, a newly integrated denizen of South Gate Station, which resembles Switzerland’s neutral position on everything from war to emotions. Bordering it, there are larger, and more politically-driven factions with hidden agendas, and goals of world domination – err, underworld domination.
You’ll quickly start with small quests, doing errands for the stationmasters, and doing so will uncover a massive conspiracy that players will have to follow it to its roots, uncovering the truth.
It’s decent writing. At times, the pacing of the plot felt a bit flat. This uneven storytelling stands in direct contrast to the elements that made those old 90s games ignite our imagination so much.
I also found the graphics less than intriguing. Even compared to the original Fallout games, this one seemed bland and generic. Keep in mind, however, that this is a budget indie game and your mileage may vary. The point of this game is less about graphics and more about the old school mechanics. It’s these mechanics that keep me playing. Not the visuals.
Another quick note: if you’ve been playing a steady diet of Bethesda RPG’s, you’ll probably feel a bit displeased with the journal system. Having grown up playing RPG’s in the 80’s and 90’s, this didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I see this as yet another mechanic which resists the streamlining experience of games. For me, this is a plus that reminds me of the glory days of PC games. For others, this may be an annoying omission making the game less approachable.
I found my experience with this fabulous tribute to the 90s isometric RPG genre quite enjoyable. It taps straight into that nerve that made the original Fallout and Arcanum games great. Is it derivative in a manner of speaking? Yes. Does UnderRail surpass those games? Hell no! However, from how it conveys its story of a black-hearted society set in a glass-city under a dying planet, to the nostalgia-infused game mechanics (whether intended or not), UnderRail is a must-buy in my book. As I’m writing this, I’m itching to get back to it and roleplay a different character.
I also feel excited to see what the mod community does with the game.
However, I must admit that the game is far from perfect. It only scores 83 points. Despite the feelings of nostalgia, at times the game is flawed. The plot is incredibly slow. The graphics a bit drab and off putting. I can also see millenials feeling a bit ‘put off’ by some of the old school game mechanics at play here.
Let’s hope that the developer provides enough tools for the modding community to keep UnderRail alive and well in the foreseeable future. I feel like this game could become even more immersive with the right modders working on it.
For the super low price of $14.99, I felt like I stole the game considering how long it is. Despite a few shortcomings here or there, UnderRail is a game those of you with an interest in retro games from the 90’s and an interest in collecting unique games should own.
Where can I buy it?
December 18, 2015