Dark Train, Can a Game Be Also an Art?

When looking at the current game industry and the many commercial titles out there, one might rightfully be sceptical about the possibility. If you do belong into this category however, Dark Train might be just the game to change your opinion. In this skill-based game, you take control of a train piloted by a mechanical giant squid. Through its unusual production, Dark Train will draw you into a deep story of a mysterious model of human world without humans. The game is namely being made out of paper. So hurry up. You have a Dark Train to catch!

Dark train

Dark Train, coming out late 2015, is produced by a freshly (2013) formed studio called Paperash. Its key production is paper. Anything you see in the game is cut out of paper first. Beforehand, it is thoroughly and in great detail researched, which paper is best suited to be used for specific parts like windows, walls or even ice. A paper model of the game is therefore created alongside it. This model is digitalized thereafter into its final form. The result is unique graphics, and it might surprise you. The style used to introduce the game world isn’t very common in the industry. When we look at the process, we get a new perspective to the question if a game can also be an art. The paper production of the Dark Train is but a start of its creativity.


The goal of the game is to make the train reach its destination and uncover its mystery. The train, which carries a detailed model of the human world, has been invented by a man called Tagrezbung. The client who ordered the Model asked that it included no humans at all. What he asked to be included, were the changes of climate and of civilization. Tagrezbung assembled the Model. But the real challenge was to get it to the client across an unhospitable land connected only by a railway for centuries. So, the inventor built a train and stored the Model in it. The idea was that it would also cater to itself and for the Model. He devoted the rest of his live to this project. The day the train was set to go, the inventor died.

Free-willed Mechanical Giant Squid as a Cursor

You take control of a character called Ann 2.35f, which is basically a mechanical squid. This squid is also your cursor. It has its own personality, and its traits change, depending on the scene and the situation in the game. It can change sizes and use its varying traits to tend for the train. But the name suggests it. Ann 2.35f won’t be the only squid in the train. Other squids might aid your cause or work for their own intents.

Ann 2.35f will have several unique features, including its own inventory and cloaking ability. It will be able to alter its surface to match the environment. Over time, it’ll also be able to mimic shapes of different objects like trees. Its eyes will glow with different colours to warn the player about various train events.

The squid will be affected by the cold and its tentacles susceptible to freezing. It could also get injured by hitting an object. In a tense situation it might even decide on its own and, fearing, hide. Thus, an important part of the set will be the engine room where Ann can recover and repair. You’ll also be able to change different parts of its body. Its tentacles can therefore take on different shapes and attributes.darktrain

Game Mechanics

The train set contains many technologies to help you reach its final destination. It is capable of acquiring all the critical sources on its own. One of the mechanics of the game are the so-called collectors, and there are three types of them.

Lightning collector acquires electricity for the whole set. This can be done by activating the collector in a station or during a storm. Energy is consequently transferred to appropriate parts of train.

Rain collector acquires water. Again, this can be done by activating the collector in a station or during a rain. The set has two containers. Part of the acquired water transfers into cooling devices.

Spark collector gathers sparks created when stopping the train. The collector directs them into wagons. That is because there can be no open fire or a device capable of producing one in the train set.

The train set consists of many parts you can use to control it. Control chambers are one of the most important. They regulate and enable transfer of heat and information between separate wagons. This has an effect on the construction of the Model. This is explained more thoroughly below. In the engine room, you can observe the whole set in detail, and you’re also warned about any events. With the help of the electromagnet you may relocate separate wagons and change their relative position. To relocate objects between wagons, you may use the inventory. Each wagon can also be entered by the use of entrances.

The game introduces the mechanics of backup drive should the train run out of energy, and while in use some parts cease to function. It will be therefore important to make proper use of available energy. Fully charged accumulators can function for up to 10 hours. Backup drives on the other hand ensures the functioning of basic control elements all the time, so you don’t have to worry about a complete system failure right after running out of energy.

trainscreenWagons and the Human Model Construction

Probably the most critical part of the set are wagons. Each type of wagon bears a part of the Model inside and each bears its own sign. There are four types, three are basic and one is special. Basic types affect the Model construction they carry by their relative placement to other wagons. The three basic types carry models of city (signifies civilisation and progress), cemetery (culture and faith) and forest (nature and origin). Conditions of each will change according to the flow of information in the set affected by the mentioned relative position. The fourth special wagon with a model of pool (artificiality and stasis) will never change based on the relative position. Its temperature is also kept constantly deep beneath zero. Each wagon can be entered to reconstruct its environment from the inside.

Step Forward

More specifics about gameplay, and how it will affect the Model construction is yet unknown. It’s been suggested that other squids might interfere with your goal and endanger the safety of the Model. Regarding originality and uniqueness, Dark Train might really be onto something. Available videos and screenshots are attractive and force you to think about the production. The mechanics of the train utility and control by a live cursor is certainly not behind. But I would say it’s the element of constructing a model of the human world that links to its unique artistic production. Hopefully it will be enough to create an outstanding experience. I am really curious what mysteries will be uncovered by revealing the Model of human world without humans and what new perspectives will the paper image of the game in the real world bring.

You can check out the official website of Dark Train and its blog HERE.

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