- Format: PC
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Flazm
- Developers: Alexey Davydov, Sergey Dvoynikov, Timofey Shargorodskiy
- Players: 1
- Site: http://train-valley.com/
- Game code provided by PR
Train Valley is very good; it’s not a simulation but a puzzle game – one that is rather easy at first and ramps up in difficulty quite quickly. It’s simple to get your head around the basics – get train A to station B without it crashing into train C, which is on route to station D. It gets more difficult when you factor in that from the moment a train is ready to leave the station it slowly decreases in value, eventually not being of a high enough value to recoup the costs of your monthly bills or the cost of the tracks you’re laying down.
Every level is a puzzle, evolving from a few initial stations that need to be connected up, to a web of tracks which you’ve created to encompass the slow addition of stations and an increasing number of trains ready for departure. You have the opportunity to say when a train departs, until the station gets another train in, which causes a countdown until the first train departs the station without your approval. This and the value of delivering trains quickly is what drives your necessity for fast deployment.
You can pause the game to allow time for decision making, or even stop a train on the tracks and turn it around, but the trains all need to be dealt with; whether they crash or reach their destination. Whatever way of handling decisions you choose, you have the threat of bankruptcy creeping up on you. Any delays in sending a train out or any stopped trains are a threat to your coffers that you need to deal with ASAP. You can only put things off for so long before more trains depart out of necessity and your tracks become littered with intertwining routes and trains that you might not even be able to manage.
The goal is never to have X amount of money in the end, it’s about getting every train that appears from A to B, or having them crash and explode – which is sometimes a good thing. There are additional objectives in each level but they never rely on you saving up money – just earning it, spending it or some other more interesting objective, like having no crashes or sending out X amount of additional trains. This is where a simple premise becomes more challenging and interesting, albeit completely optional.
What makes the additional objectives so tantalising isn’t necessarily the stamp you get a on a level for each one completed. It’s not even the idea of completing most of the objectives; the ones which make you really want to complete them are the ones that start off complete. Make sure no train arrives in the wrong station, avoid crashes, don’t destroy $X amount of the environment; they all start off completed – so by completing a level with them you’re not gaining progress but by failing them you’re losing progress, something you already have. This makes levels feel more rewarding when you do complete them with extra objectives and makes you want to replay levels with those failed objectives more so because it took part of the victory away from you.
There are two modes; Classic mode is the mode which gives progression, unlocking new levels and new “continents/countries”, which can then be used in Sandbox mode. Classic is great, each level has a set theme and some have specific extra environmental challenges to overcome; mountains, rivers and buildings being the ones to build tracks around, over, and through; and with some having tracks leading from outside the level with occasional additional trains. It makes for interesting scenarios and the extra tracks are a brilliant but underused part of the current mix.
Sandbox mode can be played with all unlocked levels from Classic Mode, in an infinite version of the level where you can pick which additional stations are built. In theory it’s good for practice but it’s completely operated by you, so trains don’t automatically become ready for departure, you have to do it all yourself. It takes away the random nature of the conflicting routes of the trains, which normally keeps you on your toes and interested. It also has no end, no objectives and no money; so anything that you wanted to try out but was impossible/practically impossible to do within the financial constraints is now available – but there’s not much reason to do it.
Train Valley is very enjoyable; it has a nice simple art style, it has goals that you can chase for hours after initial completion of the levels, it’s easy to get to grips with but hard to master, and it doesn’t mess around with your time. It’s a puzzle game more than anything else and you can easily get lost in trying to create solutions on a shoestring budget. It’s delightful for any puzzle fans and we highly recommend it.