Train Valley is a Solid Real Time Puzzle & Micromanagement Game That is not Only Beautiful but Captivating
During the Steam Winter sale this year I picked up a handful of new games, among them was this little gem: Train Valley. Enjoying both puzzle and train games, I figured I would enjoy a combination of the two, and I was not disappointed. With that being said, this game certainly isn’t for everyone, but it might be for you so consider what I have to say.
At first glance, Train Valley looks like a picturesque train simulation game where you build rails and just let things run. However, the game is actually a real time puzzle that involves light micromanagement mechanics. Each level requires the player to reach the end of the timer without going bankrupt by building and managing various rail lines. Despite the game’s straight forward nature, it gets quite difficult, especially if the player chooses to go for the three optional objectives for a perfect round.
Players need to juggle budget, trains, rail lines, and the environment in order to pass each level. In addition to this, there are the three optional objectives that a player can go for in order to get a three stamp (three star/perfect) rating. This may seem like an overwhelming amount of things to deal with, but it’s far more manageable than one might initially think. What really aids in this is the ability to pause the game at any time. It’s true that this does give the player more time to think but poor planning and human error can still easily get the best of even the most careful of players.
Each level plays fairly similar to each other, get the train from the red station to the blue station, but the circumstances of each level is what makes the game dynamic and interesting. Some levels have several environmental obstacles, others are a tight squeeze for the rail lines, and so on… On top of this, the 3 optional levels for each objective not only increase the difficulty of any given level, but also provides variety by changing up what tactics a player may employ.
Each set of levels features a country theme as well as a time period theme. I have currently played up through the China levels which have a different feel than that of the America levels. While the core gameplay doesn’t change between each level set, there is a feeling of difference that is noticeable between each level set. The easiest example of this can be seen in the Russia level set where a unique mechanic is introduced via the “Mega Train.” In this particular level, a unique train can appear from the environment that is slow moving. This was a pretty interesting idea, and more ideas like this are welcome in future levels.
On top of the variety in the actual game play itself, the visual presentation of each level is absolutely stunning. Even on the lower settings, the game looks fantastic. Everything has that model feel which is an aesthetic that is always appreciated when executed correctly. The soundtrack is also pretty fantastic and always manages to keep the levels thematic without being distracting.
My one major criticism for the game is that there just aren’t enough levels. In 10 hours I’ve beaten about 3/4ths of the base game with perfect ratings. That being said, this is more of a compliment for how much I’ve enjoyed the game. The game also features a sandbox mode that isn’t a negative, but was kind of just a “meh” option that might be nice for some but wasn’t anything I was really interested in.
Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to fully convey the game with words alone. For this reason, I encourage looking at the Steam page for Train Valley as well as TotalBiscuit’s video review which is provided below. Both sources better show off the game in a way that words simply can’t.
Train Valley is the only game from Flazm studio that I’ve ever heard of and they’ll definitely be on my radar from now on. Previously the studio had only had one other title in the repertoire: Scrap Garden. Personally, I hadn’t had any knowledge or interest in that game, but after playing Train Valley I’m interested.
Interestingly enough, the game seems to have been doing particularly well since Train Valley 2 has officially entered development. While it’s still far from being finished, the prospect of a sequel game has me excited. Train Valley has been a real blast to play and an easy 10 hour investment (that is still climbing).
Train Valley can be picked up on Steam for $9.99 or your regional equivalent. Additionally, the game has one dlc that adds a Germany themed level set. I haven’t gotten to it yet, but if it’s like the rest of the game I’m sure it is well worth picking up in addition to the base game. The dlc can be picked up in a bundle on the store page or separately for $2.49.
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