I like trains.
Seriously. I do like trains. I took a train to school for four and a half years, and I still like 'em. I'd rather take a train than a car to a destination, regardless of circumstances... assuming the tracks aren't set up like the ones in Epic Rail.
If they were? Uh...
We've seen Epic Rail's like before. The premise is what you'd probably guess of a train management game: you try and prevent the trains from smashing into each other, thereby averting horrible catastrophe like any good railway conductor.
How? In theory, it's very simple: mess with the switches. Each level is populated by tracks, trains, stations and switches, and it's your job to guide the trains to the appropriately coloured stations so they can unload their... whatevers. The stations correspond to coloured train cars, so passing a train by the right station will turn one of its cars white. Once every car is white, the level ends and you go to the next.
All that is, of course, theory. In practice, Epic Rail is surprisingly difficult. Not only do the trains move at a decent clip, the tracks are often so muddled up...
... that making heads or tails of what's going where is, ah, trying. (Yes, that's a dude with headphones.) Quick, careful changing of switches is instrumental to victory - but if you want to get a gold rating, you need to limit how many times you hit switches. Pandemonium is inevitable.
Exceedingly simple. Click the white spots between tracks with your cursor and the direction of the tracks will change. That's all there is to it. If this isn't working, your mouse isn't working. My only quibble here is that the switches are small, so hitting one occasionally turns into a game of target practice.
The creators of Epic Rail, notdoppler, pride themselves on releasing a new Flash game every week, and so it's no surprise that Epic Rail's graphics aren't mind-blowing. What they are is clean and uncomplicated, which, given the nature of surviving the game, is much more important than glitz and glamour. Two thumbs up.
I especially approve of the turn signal menu...
... even if it is usually just telling you that you suck.
For the most part, Epic Rail's soundtrack consists of ambient sounds: birds singing, traffic, wind, that sorta thing. Nothing special. The tune that plays during the intro is pretty nifty, but it would probably get annoying after a while, so I'm glad it doesn't show up during the rest of the game. (And, uh, the defeat music... well, I'm naturally biased against defeat music. Most gamers probably are.)
Hard. I'm decent at puzzle solving, but not so much on the fly. Consequently, I diiiiiidn't get that far in Epic Rail, despite almost an hour of trying. Anybody with a keen eye and a keener mind will probably enjoy the game's challenge, though it does get difficult a bit too early for my tastes. You need more time to practice.
Epic Rail is an okay game. It doesn't stand out in a huge way, and it probably won't win any awards, but it's a solid time-waster for procrastinators who feel office work is below their vast intellects.
PLAY EPIC RAIL