Inside Pulse 12

Tabletop Review: Train Ride Into Darkness

Train Ride Into Darkness
Publisher: Game Soapbox Productions, LLC
Cost: $4.95
Count: Nine MP3
Release Date: 06/12/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com

I don’t normally review audio products for our tabletop section, but when I saw Train Ride Into Darkness, I knew I really wanted to listen to it for two big reasons. The first is I that I had just finished talking about Night of the Vampire for the Mystara setting of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and the second is that the combination of the train plus track dedicated to the Great Old One, Shub-Niggurath, had me thinking this would be an excellent set of background tracks to use with Chaosium’s Horror On the Orient Express, which will be reprinted for 7th Edition in a few months. Let’s take a look at what you get.

For $4.95, you’re getting nine MP3s and two title cards, which can be folded and then fit into a CD case. One is in black and white, while the other is in full colour. I prefer the color one simply because it’s prettier. Hey, not every comment I make can be an insightful analysis, right?

The combined playtime of the nine MP3s is approximately thirty-three minutes, which some might find a little short, but you’re also getting the collection for fifty-five cents per track, which is a good deal in the age of the ninety-nine cent iTunes track, and far better than when gaming soundtracks were a popular fad. You could have paid twenty dollars for a collection of this length back in the 90s! All of the tracks in this collection are well done and a lot of fun. Each track does loop a lot, so don’t go into this expecting to hear a full length song by an orchestra. You’re getting background noise to enhance your campaign. Again, mileage may vary. If your players enjoy an immersive experience, this will definitely be up their alley. If they are easily distracted or you’re playing on Skype, this might not be the best choice for your troupe. I should also point out that some of the names on the Train Card insert do NOT match up with the actual names of the tracks, so you might want to change them or make a note. For example, Track 9 on the insert is called, “The Invocation To Shub-Niggurath,” while the actual track name that shows up on whatever MP3 player you use is “The Ritual.” Something like that could have been easily prevented, but it’s also a minor flub, so I’m willing to let it slide.

Here’s a quick list of each of the tracks.

1. Steam Train Leaving Station – 0:39. Exactly what you would expect. You get a shrill whistle and the sound of an actual train chugging away.

2. Steam Train Traveling – 5:04. Again, exactly what you would expect. Five minutes of a train moving. No background music. Hard to listen to on its own, but it will do a great job of fleshing out your train based adventure.

3. Steam Train Arriving at Station – 0:40. No explanation needed.

4. Ticking – 6:03. Called “Ticking Bomb” in the actual file, this really is just six minutes of ticking. I think it would drive players nuts after a while. Which may be the intent the Keeper is looking for…

5. Night Sounds – 8:59. Background noises of crickets and other nocturnal insects, basically. Great white noise.

6. Dark Young Hooting – 0:07. It sounds like an Owl run through a vocorder. It’s short and weird. Players will either like it or laugh from it. It depends on when and how it is used. This track could also be used as, well, an owl.

7. Conflagration – 4:39. Called “Fire” in the actual file, this is four and a half minutes of a nice crackling fire. Again, great background noise with multiple uses, including white noise.

8. Dark Young Moving and Hooting – 1:44. A different hoot from Track 6. I love the weird creepy rustling noises the track uses as the movement of a Dark Young. This track loops a lot, but it’s short enough that it stays effective.

9. The Invocation to Shub-Niggurath – 5:18. This track is quite long, and the constant looping makes sense, since it is a ritual. The acting is a little wooden/monotone, but it works. I admit I was expecting something a little more passionate/crazy sounding, but just because this isn’t what I had in mind doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.

All in all, I really enjoyed this collection. Several of the tracks are versatile enough to use with many different adventures, and I really do want to break some of these out with Horror on the Orient Express to see what players think. If you’re a fan of using sound effects and background noise in your campaign, Train Ride Into Darkness is well worth considering picking up, especially if you like to play horror RPGs.