Game review: Nostalgic Train

13 December, 2023

Tags: games

Originally posted on Backloggd on May 19, 2023.

Overlooking a foggy stream, a train bridge in the near distance.

You wake up at a train station in a small town with no memory of who you are, or how you got there.

Reminiscent of walking simulators (positive) such as Gone Home and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, Nostalgic Train isn't a wholly new gameplay experience, but what it lacks there it more than makes up for in its setting and the sense of place it has.

Between glimpses into the stories and memories of people around the town and trying to find yourself, you are invited to take in the lovely small town of Natsugiri.

The sunlight as it breaks through the bamboo at the peak of the day. The ever-present buzzing of the cicadas. The bookstore, shelves covered in books with no one but you to read them. The elementary school overlooking the burbling river that runs through the town. The train station at the heart of it all.

Where you are is reinforced time and time again, the memories tied to where they occurred, over the course of the game's story building a fuller picture of the town and its inhabitants. Places once lacking importance take on deeper significance as events progress. They may not be present but the more you learn of them, the more the lack of their presences is felt.

The game features both a Free Mode, in which you can explore the town, find scattered notes giving context and history to certain fixtures you'll find, and the Story Mode, over the course of which you'll come to know the town, its inhabitants, and quite possibly yourself.