Conduct Together (Switch eShop) Review
The multiplayer train-puzzler from NorthPlay on Switch is an adaptation of the same concept previously released as Conduct This! and Conduct Deluxe on PC, but the developers have said (see in the comments) that the Switch version has been tweaked with co-operative play in mind. And I’m assuming by co-operative play, they mean mayhem because oh boy, does this game have that in spades.
Starting up the game throws you directly into a mini-tutorial. You control trains with A, B, X, or Y, to start or stop them – the button you’ll need to use for each train is shown on-screen. You’ll also need to manipulate the tracks, controlled with the directional buttons on the left Joy-Con; this is also shown on-screen. Trains automatically stop at coloured stations and from there, the train will also change colour. Your goal is to move the appropriate train to the station of the same colour and repeat this until you drop off the required number of passengers before time runs out. If you manage to successfully complete the level, you’ll be given a rating out of three stars depending on how long it took you to finish. You can also tell how many stars you’ll get based on the coloured pie chart next to the countdown in the upper-right corner of the screen – red is one star, yellow is two, and green is three. Sounds easy enough, right?
Well, if you don’t manage to complete a level in time, the trains explode like you’re in a 1994 Keanu Reeves film. That’s if you even make it to that point because the trains have a habit of colliding with each other, or with cars, or with larger trains not under your control and exploding. MAYHEM.
The levels are not what most people would deem “safe” or “legal” in real-life. Trains have to stop for cars crossing over the tracks, for example. Some levels require you to manipulate the tracks so that other, larger trains not under your control won’t collide with your trains or be sent down the wrong track and make a nuisance of themselves. Sometimes there are multiple stations of the same colour, tunnels that you need to memorise their destination, multiple track changes that need to be made, and so on. There’s a lot going on. On top of that, every now and then another train for you to control will appear midway through the level, causing yet another explosion. The amount of dynamite onboard these trains must’ve been terribly expensive.
The levels are also divided into themed regions, and it keeps things fresh and exciting. There are some cute visual changes between them, and overall the music and the visuals are very charming. Moving between regions requires you to spend coins you earn for successfully completing a level, and once you’ve completed a region with enough stars, you’ll unlock a new train model based on a real-life train! You don’t have to complete a region before you move on and you can replay completed levels to earn more coins, but gosh darn it, once you unlock a cutesy train, you’ll want to try for more.
This is a game where you’re going to need to be able to laugh at yourself and embrace the deliciousness of your own failure, especially if you’re in the habit of always pressing the wrong buttons like I am. It’s unlikely you’re going to complete a level first-try, so you’re going to see a lot of explosions. I found myself swearing through my bemused laughter a lot so ironically, this might not be a good choice to play on public transport.
There is no dedicated multiplayer mode, per se; you have the option to play the levels solo or grab a friend or three and play together. The game doesn’t make figuring out how to play multiplayer very explicit; I eventually managed to figure out that all you have to do is connect the additional controllers and start up a level as normal. One vertical Joy-Con will control the tracks or the trains, and a Pro Controller can do both. You’ll need to sort out amongst yourselves who is doing what on each level. Some of the levels don’t seem to have quite enough in them for four players, but multiple people controlling the same thing does provide an opportunity for mischief, should you be so inclined.
Overall, I had a really good time with Conduct Together. The difficulty of some of the challenges can grate on you if you’ve been playing too long, so short bursts of play is definitely the way to go here. Playing with a friend or two definitely adds the sort of frantic fun that games like Overcooked are known for, and you can pick it up, play for a little bit, put it down for days, and jump back in without much difficulty. The earlier levels are pretty forgiving, but I found the later levels quite challenging on my own, so you might not be able to complete the entire game solo. That being said, it’s nice that you can choose between trying it yourself or roping in friends to help you. There’s enough puzzle variation here to keep things fresh, and it helps that the game is just adorable.
If you’re looking for a new type of mayhem to unleash on your unsuspecting friends, Conduct Together is definitely for you. You could say I’m… all aboard.
+ Levels are a decent challenge
+ Charming design and cute trains!
+ Don’t have to marathon the game to have fun
- Multiplayer set-up unclear
- Some levels don’t have enough complexity for four players