Train Valley Reviews

AuthorReview
Titanium Dragon
93,503
Titanium Dragon
TSA Score for this game: 643
Posted on 08 October 17 at 04:23
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Train Valley is an extraordinarily simple and yet oddly satisfying game about connecting up rail stations. The game has extremely simple controls – you have the ability to build train tracks, to send a ready train out from a train station, to cause a train to get readied up ahead of schedule, to stop a train in its tracks, or to put a train into reverse.

At it’s heart, this is a puzzle game with very simple resource management. Every time a train reaches its destination, you are rewarded with money. If a train should crash into another train, or run out of track, it will blow up, denying you any money you might have earned from the train. The longer it takes for you to deliver a train to its destination, the less money you earn – and given that deploying a train early costs you money, if you aren’t fast enough on the deployment, you can lose net money in this fashion. Each train has a specific destination, randomly assigned at generation; sending a train to the wrong station will cause it to simply turn around and re-emerge, possibly wrecking havoc with the other trains you’ve got moving around the map.

Building train tracks costs money, and demolishing obstacles so you can build train tracks costs money.

Every “year” in game (and the years go by quite fast – the game proceeds very quickly through the years, though it can be paused) you must pay a tax, which depletes your money – run out of money, and it is game over.

That’s it. There’s really nothing else here. And yet, the game manages to get 24 levels of content out of it.

The trick to this game is the limitations on rail placement. The rail can go from straight in one tile, to 45 degrees in the next tile, to 90 degrees in the tile after that. Train tracks can cross at perpendicular angles – in which case, trains cannot switch tracks between the routes – or rails can merge together at 45 degree angles, allowing multiple tracks to merge together or to split traffic on the rails apart.

Thus, the game’s placement of the train stations – 3-8 per map – combined with the obstacles on the map (some can be demolished, albeit sometimes at great expense which makes it unwise to do so, but some – like mountains and rivers – cannot be) and narrow outlets for rail traffic (such as a single bridge or tunnel) make each level a different challenge.

Simply beating the game is pretty easy; the real challenge of the game is to complete the three optional challenges on each of the levels. These vary from challenges requiring perfect play – never allowing a train to go to the wrong station, never stopping a train, and never allowing a train to crash – to challenges which restrict you in other ways, like not allowing you to demolish more than a certain value of obstacles on the map (requiring you to thread your way between them) or requiring you to earn a certain amount of money (requiring you to deploy many trains early and deliver your trains quickly and consistently to their destination).

All in all, this game was simple but somehow quite satisfying. It isn’t anything overly complicated, or extraordinarily difficult, but it felt like just the right amount of challenge to be enjoyable without being brainless. Each level takes about 20 minutes to complete, which makes for a nice little bite-sized challenge, and 100%ing the game might take somewhere in the realm of 12 hours or so, as you replay some of the levels to try and complete the more difficult challenges.

If you enjoy puzzle games with some minor resource management, this might be up your alley. If you prefer more active games, though, this might feel a bit too passive; while you do have control over what is going on, and sometimes you need to switch things up fairly fast, this is more like a management sim than an action game. And if you’re looking for a story, look elsewhere; there is nothing here but simple train puzzles.
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