Mini Metro is a transport management simulation game from small New Zealand independent studio Dinosaur Polo Club. However, the simplistic approach taken in the design means the game really fits into the Puzzler genre. The game is currently available on Steam Early Access after having recently been Greenlit by the community. And I have to say “thank you Steam community”.
Mini Metro is a real gem. From the very first instance that you open the game you are presented with a clean and welcoming style of UI. After clicking the play button, the menu slides into the mode selection stage before then sliding on to the city selection stage. The whole framework is so smooth and gives you the sense of travelling from station to station rather than just clicking through a menu system. The clean style remains once you start playing the game too.
The objective of the game is to set up your metro network on whichever map you have chosen. You’ll start off with three stations and three lines available to use. Simply click and drag between stations to create your line. Keep dragging over more stations to extend the line, or go back and click on any point of the line to drag it about and hook it on to another station. The interaction is so smooth and natural. It’s clearly been designed with a future mobile version in mind.
So what’s the point you ask? Well each station is represented as a shape, and soon enough passengers arrive at the stations demanding to go to a particular type of station. It’s your duty to facilitate their journey by connecting all the stations into a network. Not too hard when you only start with three stations! But the map is ever so slowly zooming out. So slowly that you really have to look hard to notice it. But before you realise it’s twice the size. All the time new stations are popping up for you to add to the network.
The game gets played out over the course of a week. At the end of each week you are rewarded with an extra locomotive, and then a choice between two of either an extra line, extra bridges/tunnels or an extra carriage. Extra lines are crucial for covering the ever expanding map, and you are going to need to bridges and tunnels with every map having some body of water that needs bridged. Throwing an extra carriage onto a line expands a trains capacity from six to twelve (and so on) for when you get really busy lines.
Currently there are two game modes available, Classic and Zen. In Classic mode passenger will be coming thick and fast and you need to avoid overcrowding at a station or it is game over. Too many passengers at one station will start a timer on that station. Get them on board a train and the timer will start to reverse, but if it fills up then the game ends and you are awarded a score based on the total number of passengers you transported during the level. A really nice feature allows you to take a final screenshot which will output two images, one with the score and all the passengers visible, the other with all the UI cleaned off showing how your network looked.
Zen mode is just that, a lot more relaxing. Here you don’t need to worry about over crowding or a fail state. It’s up to you to tinker away with your network for as long as you please. When you decide to quit the level, your score is based on your peak efficiency. This is a good place to get yourself started with the game without the panic. A greyed out option tells us that an Extreme game mode is coming at some point in the future.
There are still a few further features to make it into the game. Most noticeably is audio. There isn’t a single piece of audio in the game at the moment, but after playing it for some time now I can’t even imagine what the audio should sound like. It’s going to have to be impressive to make a difference to the game, but hopefully it won’t take anything away from the game once they get it in. There are also several maps to be added to the game. Currently (at time of writing) we have London, Paris, New York and Saint-Petersburg, though the next map, São Paulo, should be in the game in the next update according to the games forums. The game already has a thriving community on the forums, and the developers are active not only there, but in getting regular updates out. You can even view the change log within the game, and also link out to their Trello board which details the tasks they are working on and planning for the future.
I’ve fallen in love with Mini Metro. The style of the UI is gorgeous. The idea is so simplistic, yet will keep you engaged for hours. So what if there’s no audio yet, does it really need it? I would implore you to go onto Steam and check out Mini Metro. Get in on this early access, bookmark it for the final release, or at least keep your eyes open for when it hits mobile devices. Once it hits iPads, what better way to spend your morning commute than building your own Metro network?