Ticket to Ride is one of those boardgames that stands as an example of how to port a boardgame into a digital medium and have it work rather well; with their iOS version. Last week a PC version was released on Steam and for the most part it delivers.
Gameplay: The gameplay is a faithful adaption of the boardgame with a tutorial and manual in game to help new players. I’m not going to cover how the game plays out, as that’s outside the purview of this review. The game has the original map as a default, but Europe, Switzerland and USA 1910 are available as DLC if you want some more variety. It allows for both online and offline play with anywhere from 2-5 players. I’ll break down the unique parts of each.
Offline: Select any number of players and you’re pitted against the needed number of AI players. While the AI is fast enough, their level of competence is a bit off. Certain AI characters are better than others and there’s no way to customize this as far as I can. The most challenging games are going to be 4 or 5 as the third character is the toughest to beat. The result is that the game can be a bit solitaire as the hardest part is getting everything to work out for you. While turns can take a bit of time it stills goes reasonably fast.
Online: Here you can either pick a certain player amount or just let the game sort you into a game. It uses the ELO ranking system, which I assume is used to sort out games. It also has a karma system to punish people who disconnect during a game, but I don’t know if you can check it. Not having any friends who own this I can’t tell if you can choose to play against them. I haven’t spent all that much time online but it seems to be perfectly functional.
User Interface: Hand management, and placing out trains is seamless. When selecting Destination cards the relevant cities are highlighted. My two major problems are that it’s not easily clear whose turn it is, and the game is a bit screwy in relation to the steam interface. So far it only seems to work when I’m in windowed mode, which is good since the fact that has a working windows mode is a major plus in my book; bad cause it isn’t needed. When I tried it fullscreen the steam interface wouldn’t work. However the actual gameplay part of the UI are perfectly fine.
Sound: The music is thematically appropriate for the era that the game takes place in, and is also incredibly annoying. Since I prefer to listen to my own music when I’m playing this, that’s perfectly fine. There are also sound cues for when it’s your turn and the like, while they’re useful and compensate for some flaws with the user interface I drown them out with my music.
Final Thoughts: Ticket to Ride offers a faithful adaptation of the boardgame with plenty of bells and whistles. While the offline game can only be challenging for so long, the possibility of online play and DLC means that this game has plenty of life. The game’s shortcomings are, in the grand scheme of things, rather small and can be overlooked. The game is well worth its price tag of 10 dollars.
Final Grade: A-