Choo Choo Charles

Choo Choo Charles was always destined to be more of a curiosity than a standout must-play video game. I mean, we’re talking about a spooky clown-faced, spider-legged locomotive that’s hell-bent on ripping the player to shreds, adherence to train tracks (or logic) be damned. And in that regard, it delivers on its loopy premise and then some. It’s both silly and terrifying to see the red-and-black engine looming in the distance, scouring the countryside as it stalks you endlessly. 

But head-scratching premise aside, Choo Choo Charles is a great little indie game that could, and it’s exactly the type of game I needed to play right now.

Now, Choo Choo Charles has its flaws, to be certain. But even so, Two Star Games managed to deliver an inspired product that is well aware of its shortcomings, without allowing those shortcomings to get in the way of the game’s tight campaign (and some really solid railroading).

Choo Choo Charles

As odd as this may sound, Choo Choo Charles is pretty much exactly what I wanted from a game like Sea of Thieves — which is also why it’s no surprise that CCC reminds me of the indie Sea of Thieves-alike Salt 2. Being able to command a vessel while also performing combat can be overwhelming, but CCC makes it feel intuitive. This goes a long way toward making this one-man operation feel manageable without putting you at an extreme disadvantage.

The premise for Choo Choo Charles is short and to the point: A demonic locomotive is terrorizing the denizens of a small mining island. A monster hunter is needed, so you respond to the call. Immediately you are attacked by Charles and your point person is killed in the ensuing fracas, but not before hooking you up with a sweet little engine of your own. So you are tasked with helping the locals build up your rig and its arsenal, tracking down some eggs that are apparently ripe to spawn more Charleses, and ultimately make the already-spawned Charles not so much in charge. 

I feel like I am on the precipice of the final showdown, having already upgraded my train to full specs and having amassed all of the weapon types, after roughly two and a half hours of gameplay. The lack of fluff and ancillary collectibles has really helped me mainline the story and stay on track (yup, I went there). This is a breath of fresh air coming off Dead Island 2, a game I loved and felt compelled to earn the Platinum Trophy for, but one that also killed me with the amount of extra content contained within. I reckon I will be able to vanquish Charles and hand in my spurs in well under five hours. 

Choo Choo Charles

And that’s one of Choo Choo Charles’ blessings — the game doesn’t tack on superfluous baggage that would only weigh it down. And the constant saving feature means the stakes are low. Even though I have died numerous times, I was able to restart back on my train where last I left it, with all of my items and progress intact. Some might find this to be too easy, but it keeps me engaged without putting the game down in frustration. It also runs really well on the Steam Deck, so it’s easy to just lounge in bed and devour this game.

If I had played Choo Choo Charles when it first came out (back in December of 2022), it definitely would’ve been on my Best Games of 2022 list. And picking it up during the recent Steam Summer Sale only sweetened the deal (although, honestly, it goes on sale quite often).

If you like huge games with millions of things to do, or simply can’t stand some rough edges or a small dose of jank (which I find endearing sometimes), you probably won’t gel with Choo Choo Charles. But if you like games that lean into their own oddity and offer clear and concise objectives without wasting your time — and you don’t mind a decent little fright-fest — I would suggest checking out Choo Choo Charles.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x