Conduct AR! Game Review (ARKit)

Conduct AR! is an ARKit-powered augmented reality game where you command trains, switching tracks, avoiding a collision and get passengers to their designated location. The game is based on the very popular mobile title Conduct This! which was played by over 3 million players from all around the world.

Gameplay & Difficulty

The game features challenging spatial puzzles where the player needs to control the train by either stopping in (tapping on the train) or make it switch lanes (tapping the railroad’s cross-sections).

In each level, you get a quota of passengers which you need to transfer from one location to the another. Each train station comes with a matching color and your job is to make sure that the passengers carrying that color get out in a station carrying the same color. Once those passengers get down in their station, you start feeling the quota. Once you reach the quota, you complete the level.

I first tried the first two level and I said to my self: “ppfff, are you kidding me, this is too easy.”—Literally, little I knew what’s ahead. I was stuck at some levels for quite some time, I think maybe more than an hour. It’s a very challenging game with really tricky spatial puzzles. If you are searching for a hard game, one that requires concentration, reaction time and fast thinking, Conduct AR should definitely be at the top of your list.

One of the main reasons why I really love this game is because it was built from the ground up for Augmented Reality and you can see this by how the game plays. The spatial puzzles require moving around the level to be aware where the train is and where it’s going to be next. I have to admit that in many cases I did find it easier to just play the game while viewing the level straight from the top. This is because you need to see the entire level to know how to navigate your train. There is little time to enjoy getting closer and enjoy playing it up close. I tried that, but I failed a few moments later.

In some levels, there are several trains driving the same railroad system. I thought that one train is hard until in one level they put two trains. Now I had to make sure not just that my train won’t collide with any one of them, but also making sure those other two trains don’t collide against each other and oh boy that was very hard to do. Things get even more difficult when you are on a time limit. You don’t have time to make a long tour around the level, you need to change tracks fast to get to the train stations as fast as possible if not, you are going to fail.

Some games are less punishing than this because they don’t have a time limit (this one has) and they don’t require and fast reaction time. In fact, in puzzle games like YuME: Alice’s Dream or Euclidean Lands, you can take all the time in the world and solve each level at your own pace, there is no need to rush things. This is one aspect of the game that makes it different than other real-time strategic puzzle games, but that also what makes it stand out from the rest. If you are searching for a more relaxing slash casual experience, you might want to try out the two other games that I’ve mentioned above, which I’ve also already reviewed.

Level Design

The Level Design is probably one of the best things in this game. It’s a real enjoyment watching those detailed railroads coming to life in your living room and being able to interact with them. I didn’t finish all levels (still plans to), but I’ve seen some crazy tracks that can pose some real challenges, even more the most skilled players out there.

Conduct AR! game screenshot
Excellent level design, great attention to details.

The game features very detailed cartoon-style visuals. The game uses elevation, caves and hidden areas to encourage the player to move and look around the map to find out where the train is coming out from, to locate the stations and find the best route to navigate the train at.

I also liked the attention to small details, like seeing an eagle flying about the map, watching the passengers waiting at the train station or watching the campfire burning alongside the road. Overall, fabulous level design.

AR Experience & Immersion

Conduct AR! does a good job detecting surfaces relatively fast and position them in the right place. I tried playing the game on a chair, and it spawned a smaller down-scaled version of the level, whether on the table it spawned a larger version (you can see in in the gameplay video as well).

AR game on a flat surface, on a chair and table
Accurate, relatively and reliable AR surface detection and level placement (Conduct AR! screenshots)

I did encounter some crashes and jittering while I played. I also didn’t like that when I multi-task and change to another app, when I come back the game resets everything and I need to respawn the level all over again and restart the level. I think it’s the same for all ARKit games, and I would love to see Apple solving this issue. The thing is with games is that the game should remember the exact setup of the game when you switch to another app and quickly restore it back. You have this on many non-AR games, but in AR, for some reason, it doesn’t work that way. Overall, no deal-breaker issues here, at least not from what I’ve experienced so far.

There is one other thing that kind of bothered me. some people might overlook it, but when I played I’ve noticed that the level plate has no shadow apply to it. This made it look like it was floating and not completely attached to the table where I spawn it on. I have no idea what it was like that, but it didn’t hurt the immersion too much because I was focusing on the track most of the time. For other type of games it can be more crucial and hurt immersion. Having said that, I do hope that this will be added in a future update, it’s an AR game after all.

My Augmented Reality experience was very good overall with some minor complains.

Overall, I really liked how the puzzles revolve around positioning, but also the additional  fast-paced type of gameplay that helps to keep you on your toes the whole time. I can’t recall the last time I was sweating while playing an AR game, but this one made me sweat (I see this is a positive thing).

Music & Sound Effects

The music and sound effects are all spot on. You get that old west type of music style. So overall, nothing to complain about, only praises.

Fun Factor!

All said and done, you probably want to know if the game is fun to play and my answer for it is: definitely Yes. After playing it for a few hours, I think it’s definitely worth your money if you are into those type of games. To be honest, most of the ARKit out there are puzzle games, because this AR medium fits those type of games really well.

Before we move on, check out this funny blooper, happened to me while recording some gameplay footage. It seems that my cat isn’t a big fan of AR.

Should You Buy This ARKit Game?

I recommend this game for people who like puzzle games, but like seeing more action in games, rather than spend time looking at stuff and trying to figure out things at your own pace. I also recommend this game to people who love playing with toy train sets and tracks., but keep in mind that it’s not a sandbox game. Speaking of which, I think it would nice to have a track builder and allow users to build their own track and share them with other players (Dev, I hope you are listening). Also if you enjoyed playing the original title Conduct This! which the game is based on, you probably don’t need my recommendation, but anyways, I’m pretty sure you’ll love this AR version of the game as well.

Overall, a simple game that will pose a real challenge for every players who plays it.An action spatial puzzler that was designed to take advantage of the ARKit feature and offer players a great gaming experience. The game features very simple and intuitive controls so everyone and even kids can enjoy it. An exemplar of how ARKit games should be made. Can’t wait to go back to the game and progress to the next level—Highly Recommended!