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Lena LeRay, Blogger

January 11, 2016

3 Min Read

Cross-posted from my personal blog.

Downwell surprised me by being so awesome that I felt a strong need to make it the subject of my first Let’s Talk About [GAME] video, but this is the game I originally planned to do first. Mini Metro is my personal favorite game of 2015. Script is below.

Hello, everyone. Crowbeak here. This is the newest video in my Let’s Talk About [GAME] series. Each episode focuses on a specific game — usually an indie game, since that’s mostly what I play — and things about the game that I think are worth talking about.

So let’s talk about Mini Metro, a minimalist management sim about running public transportation systems. It differs from your typical management sim in a couple of ways.

The first is that the player’s actions are limited to building tracks, putting train cars on them, and occasionally expanding the capacity of stations. That’s it. Station types and locations are procedurally generated; gameplay revolves around the player trying to service all the new stations that pop up as best they can with the limited resources at their disposal.

The other major difference is average session length. Depending on the player’s skill, a typical game in normal mode will only last 10-20 minutes. A player sitting down to play a management game usually expects to spend hours building an empire, but in Mini Metro, the player is purely reactive, expanding to meet the needs of passengers as they arise. As the city grows and the number of passengers increases, so does the pressure to make the most efficient network possible. Eventually, the player won’t be able to keep up with demand; stations will overcrowd and the game will end.

There is an endless mode, which is scored based on the number of passengers transported per day. That mode is perhaps more in line with what management sim fans are used to, though normal is the mode I’ve fallen in love with. The last mode is called Extreme, and lines and trains can’t be moved once placed when playing that way. It’s considerably more difficult than normal mode, in which train lines can be completely redrawn at whim, but is also, perhaps, more realistic.

Speaking of Mini Metro’s realism, a public transit consultant named Jarrett Walker wrote up a really interesting article about how Mini Metro does and doesn’t reflect the realities of public rail network design. I highly recommend checking it out; I’ll put a link to it in the description.

There’s one more thing I want to talk about regarding Mini Metro: its audio. I first played Mini Metro while it was in Early Access and had absolutely no sound, so when I played for the first time after its official launch, I was floored by the audial delights Disasterpeace cooked up for it. If you’ve heard anyone use the word “zen” in reference to Mini Metro, I guarantee you that the audio is why. It’s procedurally generated alongside the level, a pleasant harmony of atmospheric undertones overlaid with dings which correspond to everything happening in the game. Have a listen.

[game audio]

Although I don’t think Mini Metro is objectively the best of the 2015 games I’ve played — if pressed to choose one, that would come down to Assault Android Cactus, Crypt of the Necrodancer, or Tales from the Borderlands — it’s definitely my personal favorite. Like many procedurally generated games with short play sessions, it has a daily challenge, and tackling that has become something of an evening ritual for me, a thing I can do to relax but which still requires some brain power. The only thing that would make the game better is having it on a tablet, which developer Dinosaur Polo Club is working on.

Have you played Mini Metro? Leave a comment to share your thoughts on it. And if you liked this video, please consider hitting the like button, subscribing to my channel, or sharing the video.

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