Telegraphing Moves--A Single-Take Review of Colt Express Digital

Last week we reviewed the physical edition of Colt Express, so today we're taking a look at the new digital edition of Colt Express. It's available for Steam, Android, and iOS, and costs between $4.99 and $6.99, depending on format. We're not going to go over the basic rules or gameplay, since we already did that in the review of the physical game. But the digital edition adds plenty of new stuff to talk about--including Let's check it out!


The Gameplay

There are two modes of play in the digital version.

Classic mode is similar to the board game, and lets you square off against either online or AI opponents in a 4- or 6-player game. The Lobby leaves something to be desired. It's just a chat thread with people complaining about the Lobby. I couldn't figure out a way to pick games, or play with Friends. 

The worst thing is that there's no pass-and-play option, which should just be standard in a digital game, IMO. This is exacerbated by the fact that the online mode is still anemic, because the most players I've seen waiting to play a game is 20. The bot players aren't bad, but there's no way to change the difficulty level, so they're always going to be average. Which I guess is okay in a game this chaotic, but it should still be an option.

Story mode lets you explore the characters and their backstories through a series of games that unlock comic book pages that fill in the story. Each character has five "chapters," and once you've played through them you unlock new variants in Classic mode. You have different and thematic objectives and puzzles, depending on the character. 


The Verdict

Visually, Colt Express is great. The background and train seem to be 3-dimensional, while the characters are 2-dimensional. So when you shoot a Bandit, she'll spin around like one of the playing pieces in the game. And on turns where you're "in a tunnel" and playing Schemin' cards facedown, the train is actually going through a tunnel. Everything is bright and colorful, too. Those are nice touches.

Story mode is easily my favorite part of the game. It's FUN, adding backstories, challenges, and entirely new gameplay mechanics that aren't even in the board game! Digital products are the perfect place to add puzzle aspects to board games, so I loved that. 

One important thing to note: The Story mode, even though I really enjoyed it, isn't for kiddos. The Django comic backstory, for instance, finds a racist couple making rude comments while walking through a train car full of black and Mexican passengers. Then Django (who's black) realizes the racist guy is his old master, and in a flashback his master drops an f-bomb. And that was just the first unlocked comic page! 

This creates a problem for me, because my 8-year-old LOVES this app. Seriously loves it. Loves it so much that he was trying to figure out how to get a refurbished iPod Touch just so he could play it. (I love his initiative.) But now I have to tell him he can't play the most fun and challenging part of the game. He loves puzzles but he can't play this--unless I tell him not to read the comic pages, but that doesn't seem practical. He still plays and enjoys the Classic mode, but it's disappointing that a game that won the Spiel Des Jahres (which is an award for family games) would add stuff that's definitely not family friendly.  

Firestone's Final Verdict: Colt Express Digital is a mixed bag. I LOVE the Story mode, and the challenges and new gameplay options it brings. Unfortunately, the adult nature of the Story mode works against the fact that this is a family game. The multiplayer isn't great--though it could be with an update, and more players in the pool. The visuals are terrific and colorful. Overall, if you like Colt Express, this is a well-done digital version, but don't go in expecting a robust multiplayer experience. Yet. 

Theology of Games would like to thank Asmodee Digital for providing a review copy of Colt Express Digital. This in no way affected our opinion of the game. 

Thanks for reading!