We’ve recently moved out of London so we’re somewhat glad to be rid of the underground. Yes it’s a marvel of engineering, a true artifact of history and an incredible convenience but it’s easy to forget all of that when it’s 5:30pm on the Central Line and your sandwiched between scary looking drunks and angry looking businessmen in the middle of the summer heat. Thankfully Mini Metro deals with just the nicest and potentially most interesting part of the underground, the map.
For a game in early access this is an incredibly accomplished project. There are no rough edges or glitchy behaviour, instead there’s simply missing features. What is here is incredibly polished and well worth the money if the concept appeals to you at all.
You start off by picking a city and then are placed on a blank tube map in the same style as the ones used for the London Underground. The only thing that connects it to the real city at first is a single feature, usually the river, so you can see the recognisable kinks of the Thames running through your map. At first there’s only three stations and you can connect them with a simple click and drag of your mouse. Start from a station and you will begin a new line, cross the river and you make a tunnel. If you drag the end or middle of a line you will shape the line around your modifications. You can even delete bits of line or entire lines altogether if you’d like. At each stations passengers will appear, signified by shapes. Each station is also a shape. Those people want to get to that station, so circles will go for next circle stations. There’s only a certain number of shapes and they double up so you start trying to make sure each line has one of each shape on it to avoid people needing to change. The game goes on until you have too many people waiting at a station for too long, at which point you get a summary of how you did. It sounds simple but it gets complicated very quickly. You always want your trains to be faster as you see people waiting for painful amounts of time. You suddenly realise too many triangles are getting stuck at one bit of a line because the train that arrives is always full. Do you make a new line to serve them or add an extra train to the existing line? At the end of each week you are given a reward of an extra train and then you can choose between things like a new line, an extra carriage for a train, or a new tunnel.
Before long the game becomes almost impossible to keep track of and the whole thing collapses in on itself, but then you immediately want to have another go, see if you can last for just a little bit longer. The clean and refined aesthetic is absolutely beautiful to look at and after you finish each run it gives you a choice to make a screenshot of your final layout. Every animation, icon and bit of text has clearly been considered and measured perfectly. Everything is minimalist (there’s no names for stations or lines at the moment) but provides you with all the information you could need to make informed decisions.
This is early access done right. There’s a few extra features we’d like (the ability to move trains between lines when you’ve made a mistake without deleting the whole line and maybe optional names for stations and lines) but this is nitpicking what is already an exceptional puzzle game. We’d say the early access version is well worth the money, we can’t recommend it highly enough. The developer has thoughtfully included a brief roadmap on the startup page as well as a list of known issues so you always know how it’s developing.
We will of course bring a full review once the game is officially released, but we say just get it now!