Trailmakers is a vehicle creation and modification game. With a variety of game styles you can explore the world where you crash landed to recover your lost parts and get back to space, or you can go to the sandbox and build whatever you want, or you can go to the race track and try to upgrade your car to be the fastest on the track. There is also a challenge area where you can try your hand at your different tasks, like flying through flaming rings with your plane, or floating around on your boat or in your submarine. Having never played the game before the adventure / exploration map seemed the most interesting, as it slowly eases you into how things work.
First off, this game looks great. The visuals are very well done. Whether it's the burning lava, the soft sand, the muddy swamps, the barren plains, the briny depths, or the tree covered hills this game looks good. When driving in the sand and mud your vehicle leaves tracks behind you. In the water you can see the trails of bubbles follow you as you drive past. In the planes you can see the cloud of exhaust behind the jet engines. You can even see the exhaust coming from your engine as you drive around, depending on the type of engine you have put on your vehicle.
In adventure mode you crash down on this new planet and have to recover all the missing pieces of your rocket. Not everything you collect will be useful for the rocket, but they will be useful as you build your cars / planes / ships. You get a magnetic part that helps you hold on to what your bringing back to the collection drones. The drones serve as teleport points so you can hop around the map to anywhere you've been up to that point. So even if you don't have anything to turn in drive past to activate the drones. It's worth the effort.
When building you will be given a blank area where you can add your parts. In adventure mode you can only build using the parts you have and are especially limited to anything needing power, such as engines and the electro magnet. As you build you can see how everything fits together, like you would see when building a set of Legos. Each part has its specific size and use. There are different types of seats / controls, such as cockpits, motorcycle seats, even a ships wheel! There are also different types of engines with different weights and powers. Bigger and more powerful isn't always better since having too powerful of an engine can cause the vehicle to lose control. Playing around with what works is a must to figure out how to do more with less. The system is smart enough to tell you whether something is connected to the build or not. It's a great tool to have since you're building in 3 dimensions, so it may look correct from one angle but completely wrong from another.
The awesome part about building in this game is that you can customize almost anything. You can control exactly how it's connected to what you're building, including the orientation, as shown below. You can control what key will make the item work, in case it's something like a jet or cannon or electromagnet. You can control which direction the wheels turn and what amount of power output the hover fans and jet engines. You can get even more creative with some pseudo smart logic, but that takes even deeper understanding of the mechanics of the game.
While driving / flying / swimming around you're bound to hit something, be it a bump on the ground or a tree or wall or whatever. Parts breaking off is a norm. You can repair your vehicle with a single key stroke, depending on if there's enough space to rebuild it. The bigger the machine the more space you need to fix or build it. The nice thing is that once it's built you can repair it as much as you'd like. It keeps the current build ready to go when you're using it. But beware, if you don't save your build and move to something else, the work you did will not be saved.
As you move from map to map or challenge to challenge there are certain pre-built vehicles that the game will give you. They are decent vehicles that will get the job done, be it a test on the centrifuge, an area to test your vehicle's raw speed, or it could be for the all terrain race track. What the game provides isn't the best, but it'll be decent at least. Plus, you can modify what they give you and get better results, having done so while playing. You can have the game walk you through building the car with a little help, so you can see the little details of how the game put it together, or you can click the "Auto-Build" button and have the game build it for you. Both are viable options, though sometimes you don't care to know how it's built rather than just getting to play with the new car.
A good way to learn how things work is in the sandbox or testing grounds. This is a blank area where you can build anything, no limits. You don't have to worry about power limits like in the adventure. This is a good way to figure out the minute intricacies of how the physics works. It is fun, though, to modify one piece to see how it changes the handling or power of the vehicle. Little changes can make a lot of difference. When adding even an extra engine of the least powerful engines it can cause your car or plane to spiral out of control. The placing of the jets can cause your plane to fly gracefully or crash like a wounded bird. Having spent hours figuring out the best placement for different builds, test placement and power thoroughly to find the best configuration.
Another amazing aspect of building in this game is weight and aerodynamics. Does the bigger engine give more power? Yes. Does it weigh three times more? Also yes. Both of these will make massive changes with your ships and cars. What worked just fine, if a little slowly, before will now be spinning around out of control with the bigger engine. Sometimes you can use a hybrid build of the lower tier engines as well as the higher tier in order to get that extra push that you so want. Also consider how aerodynamic your build is. Are there a lot of flat edges? That'll cut into your acceleration and top speed. Round those edges with wedge and rounded pieces to make it run more smoothly. Add spoilers to keep your wheels on the road as you pick up speeds or wings to get your plane into the sky. Test, test, test. It may not work now, but you can always keep testing to find the one way that it will.
If you are still struggling with finding something that will work for your needs, you can always turn to the steam workshop. When building, on the bottom you will find the blueprints button. There is a steam logo for the last tab, which you can use to see which builds other people have submitted for the world to see. There are cars and bikes and robots and pets and walls and planes and helicopters and tanks and so on and so forth. Just click on the one you want, click download, wait for it to download into your game, then drag it into your game. This is a good way to see what others have done and how you can improve your skills. Sometimes bigger or faster isn't necessarily better, as more creative or funny can be what you're looking for. It really is an amazing way to find new ideas or share your masterpiece with the world to see.
This game is really quite fun. It teaches you a lot about how minor changes can have major effects. It's a great game for those who like the creative games that challenge how you think, how you see things, how you problem solve. The price is decent, though it may be worth waiting for a bundle or a sale. It's a great way to keep your mind sharp and to maybe even teach kids about physics, mechanics, and problem solving. It has an almost infinite replay value, as long as you are interested in trying new things and building new toys. It's one of the better open world crafting games from the last couple years. Definitely worth picking up on sale.
Gameplay is good and has a great variety. It can be repetitive or challenging at times.
There is a great variety of play / challenge types. From open world / exploration to a sandbox to an all terrain racetrack.
Controls can be overly simplistic or super touchy depending on the vehicle and engine power. Higher power vehicles are more difficult to control.
With the variety of parts you can make almost anything you want. It takes time to learn what is what but the pre built guides are super helpful. Think of Legos but for vehicles.
The more you play and get used to how things work you can keep testing the limit to what you can do and build.
PROS / CONS
- Variety of gameplay types
- As simple or as difficult as you make it
- Extremely customizable
- Beautiful graphics
- Enjoyable challenges
- Difficult to learn controls
- Fickle terrain
- Extremely touchy controls
- Difficult learning curve