As the gameplay begins, we find ourselves in a vast, derelict train-yard and our first task is to use a crane system to construct a train cart. The majority of the gameplay consists of these puzzles, or “riddles” as the creator likes to call them. We traverse the environment by way of our custom-built railcart, which is enjoyable to use and allows for some fun exploration of this abandoned landscape, a decaying German cityscape.
Unfortunately for a mod which relies on them so heavily, the subsequent puzzles are not hugely challenging and at least one is ripped directly from Half-Life 2. What might be considered the central puzzle of the mod involves redirecting steam through a network of pipes. It boils down to following a diagram which shows you the solution.
The area highlights another problem in that the solution to the puzzles is not always linked to their effect in the game (solving the steam puzzle randomly causes a gate to open), so that they seem far more like arbitrarily designed tasks than something that serves a genuine purpose. One jumping challenge at the end of the mod is completely nonsensical. Granted, some of the puzzles are pleasant enough to work through, but comparisons to other puzzle mods such as Research and Development find them sorely lacking.
The custom models and textures are all well-made and add a lot to the level design.
Throughout these challenges we are guided by an expertly modeled robot helper who is performed by none other than Ross Scott. Frustratingly, the dialog is nothing but perfunctory and fails to bring much comedy to the world of STTR, or elaborate on its backstory. The few visual gags that are thrown in fall flat without any context to back them up – and not even the voice of Gordon Freeman himself can save them.
Chapter One of the mod was released this week and I look forward to seeing the puzzles and story developed further in future parts. As it stands, STTR is a fun but flawed mod that is recommended for players looking for some gentle puzzle solving and a fun train ride.
Download: ModDB | PlanetPhillip.com
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PlanetPhillip - Steam, Tracks, Troubles and Riddles – Half-Life 2: Ep2