Pain Train – Cho Cho Charles

Sometimes a game seems like it will be a giant hit until the day that it is released. I was super excited to play Cho Cho Charles this week and talk about everything it does right to depart from the normal survival horror genre, but I was left with a feeling that I don’t think I have ever had before, a feeling of being utterly and completely gypped on a video game. This week is Cho Cho Charles.

Cho Cho Charles is an open-world survival horror game from Two Star Games. The game was released on Steam on December 9th and retails for $20.

The player takes the role of a monster hunter that has been informed of a “Giga spider from Hell” that terrorizes a large mining island out in the middle of nowhere. The inhabitants of the mining island know of you and your work with killing monsters and are eager to tell you that Charles is an ancient evil that roams the island looking for three different colored eggs. Charles yearns for these eggs but the head of the mining company has them protected inside caves scattered throughout the island. With the help of the remaining citizens left, and a train with an option for mounted guns, it is time to send Charles back to Hell.

Cho Cho Charles is a survival horror game as much as it is a puzzle game. The horror comes from Charles roaming the map and randomly coming across the part of the track that you are on, and a gunfight breaks out. The first time it happens, it is truly a scare but after that, it really loses its spookiness. Charles just attacks the train a few times and then runs off after it drops to a certain health. The caves that house the eggs are also scary on the first attempt because of the unknown enemies that live there, but that falls off once you know that jumping and running really just confuses their attack pattern.

Cho Cho Charles has no survival, there is no mechanic. Survival only comes from surviving Charles, which is a cakewalk.

The map is outlandish. It is enormous and that is only because Two Star Games needed a way to space “side quests” out. Thank God there are switches to change tracks because if there were not I would have put this dumpster fire down and never looked back.

Upgrades come in the form of train speed, gun damage, and train armor. Scrap can be used to upgrade, which every literal NPC gives out as payment for doing their sidequests. NPCs are funny and their voice acting is really bad. What makes it worse is that their mouths don’t move at all making the interactions feel really awkward. Most side quests are just fetch quests for something stupid, like pickles or a journal that, can be at times, incredibly far inland, away from the tracks, which makes for an actually scary time because you have to risk going inland with Charles roaming around. It would be worse if I only saw Charles four times during my playthrough.

The game looks really good, and it looks like Two Star Games put all their time into making the game look good and not making it an actually enjoyable experience. The moment you get on the island, you are immediately met with a very atmospheric playground: fog and rain hinder the view while a faint train whistle can be heard. It is quiet on the train tracks until Charles shows up and a battle theme ramps up making the already stressful battle even more stressful. The mining caves are filled with detail of a ritualistic ancient civilization that kept Charles in check. Blood splatters on the walls and pretty much everywhere, with the addition of bad guys wearing Charles’s face masks really making these areas spooky.

The sound design is fine. The music during the fights is good, the voice acting is bad and the train sounds like a real train. That’s pretty much it.

Reviews on Steam suggest that Cho Cho Charles is a good game because it was a joke game that became a reality. That doesn’t mean that the game should get positive reviews; the game is bad. I completed the game within two hours and it was really bare bones. The only post-game content is collecting paint for your train and that is not enough. The actual gameplay is incredibly simple and the customization is comical. The side quests are boring, and not funny and the only benefit is the resources, the voice acting is really bad, and the story is just a rip of Alien.

I can say that Cho Cho Charles is a great-looking game, but that is all it’s got going for it. I actually feel bad for paying $20 for this game; it’s not even scary.

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