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iPad Game Review: Steam: Rails To Riches Review
      #49358 - 04/25/16 03:11 PM

Steam: Rails To Riches for iOS is a digital adaptation of the highly successful boardgame. In it, you will compete against other players (human or AI) in your efforts to build a rail network and deliver goods to the various cities. As with most tile placement games, the game is divided into phases, and players are limited in how many actions they can take in each phase. The precious resource here is, of course, money and you will never have as much as you like. You can take out loans but they will cost you money every turn so make sure you can get an immediate return on the money borrowed. Once you start to connect cities, you can begin moving goods between them. Cities will only accept goods that match their color, however, so you will likely need to ship goods through intermediate cities before they reach their final destination. Did I mention that trains must be appropriately upgraded before they can travel through multiple cities? As you can see, there are layers and layers of strategy here, compounded by the malevolent presence of your friends and family who are all trying to do the same thing as you on a very crowded board. While I often find myself staring at a new board game adaption on my iPad and try to figure out where "the game" is, I had no trouble getting right to it in Steam. It may be hard to win, but it's not particularly difficult to understand.

When Steam was initially released, it was a bit rough around the edges. It has since been patched, and is a much more polished experience. Of course, you should still expect to spend some time learning the interface as parts of it are not particularly intuitive. For example, I initially had some difficulty figuring out how to adjust the rotation of a piece that I had inadvertently placed. Hint: Don't use the all too friendly "back" button because that will undo everything you've placed during the current phase. Fortunately, there's a tutorial that will get you 80% of the way there, which was enough for me. As I previously noted, Steam supports both solo and multiplayer. Unfortunately, multiplayer is currently limited to pass-and-play, which is a big bummer for a game like this. While it is promised in a future patch, it's often difficult for developers to generate the necessary multiplayer community when their game doesn't initially ship with the feature. My fingers are crossed, however, that they will be able to pull it off because Steam really comes alive when playing with other humans.

Like most board game adaptations, Steam cannot be described as graphically rich. It is, however, a pretty game with a nice color palette, smooth sprite-based animation, and razor sharp game elements. For me, this is actually preferable to 3D effects and unnecessarily flashy transitions but if you're looking for striking visuals you're going to be disappointed.
If, like me, you enjoy playing board games on your digital devices, you can't go wrong with Steam: Rails To Riches. It hits that sweet spot between complexity and accessibility, and offers enough variety that you'll keep coming back to it. It's currently missing online multiplayer of any kind, but if the developers come through on their promise, it will be coming along in the months ahead.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 4 - Hits a nice balance between beauty and efficiency
Sound: - 3 - Board games generally aren't known for their sound effects and music, and Steam is no different.
Controls: - 4 - Interface is a bit confusing at first, but you'll get the hang of it in no time.
Gameplay: - 4 - A great board game experience that currently lacks online multiplayer.

Playing Hints and Tips:

Take out a loan on the first turn to get some income flowing. Tracks cost money to use so send your goods on the most efficient route possible (opponents tracks cost more to use than yours). Going first is nice, but don't overbid for the privilege.

App Facts:

Developer: Acram Digital
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Price: $4.99
Buy App: Steam: Rails To Riches

Reviewed by Tom Slayton


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