- Developer: Gaming Minds Studios
- Publisher: Kalypso Media Group
- Release Date: 19/06/2020
- Price: £35.99 / $39.99
- Review code provided by Kalypso Media Group
Introducing: Railway Empire – Nintendo Switch Edition Review
Only a few short years ago, finding a decent simulator game for a portable device, excluding laptops, was near impossible. Be it iPad, 3DS or PlayStation Vita it was rare to come across a game which offered any sort of depth beyond play-to-wait or the casual surface sim. Though the most in depth 4X games are still relegated to PC, the Nintendo Switch has seen a few titles that burrow below the surface to deep caverns of gameplay and ample management with flexibility of control. The latest of such simulation games to grace the handheld hybrid is Railway Empire from Kalypso Media Group. Join me to see if this train is worth the ticket or if you should let it pass the station.
All Aboard the Nintendad Express
Simulation games don’t typically boast a grandiose story. Don’t expect your heartstrings to be tugged or last minute plot twists in Railway Empire. In fact, the story is barely passable and serves as the caboose of the overall experience. During the campaign you are instructed by famous railroad tycoons as they give a brief history of trains over time. When you clear one segment, they continue the tale of how trains shaped the world and move on to another era. Fascinating as it was to hear these details, it’s not why I played the game. I wanted to construct winding rails and watch trains snake from city to city as my iron empire grew. Fortunately there was enough of the latter to keep my attention for hours on end.
On the Fast Track
Railway Empire is a complex simulation game where laying down tracks from point A to point B is only the beginning. The main objective is to build an extensive railway system and maximize profits. In order to do that, you’ll be connecting various resources and cities. Careful management of ensuring your cities get necessary goods and transport them where required can take time. Not to mention, as the cities grow, you can overload them with too much of a specific resource. Each city has a little customization as the population grows. You can construct factories and expand your train station. On top of this, placement of your tracks is critical. You can’t just lay down one track from Chicago to St. Louis and hope your ten trains can pass through each other. Railway Empire is an intuitive simulator and your operation will cease to run and your profits will tank.
When you’re not focused on your trains and resources, you’ll contend with other railroad empires. All vying to occupy cities and get the best connections. There are several ways to deal with the competition. You can hire bandits to attack their trains. Pay reporters to run smear campaigns or slowly buy their stock for a hostile takeover. You can also challenge them in auctions for new technology to give you an edge. You’ll also develop handy inventions over time using an upgrade tree to improve your empire.
There are several play modes if high stakes tycooning isn’t your style and you’d rather play without the impediment of the AI. Free Mode was perhaps my favorite as it let me build with standard financial limits where planning was still required to make sure I took advantage of surrounding resources. Sandbox Mode lets your imagination run wild with no limits. Scenarios lets you tackle other regions and parts of the world.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Railway Empire is an immersive experience despite the low quality graphics. Zooming in for a close look at the cities and locomotives contradict the prepossession of the wonderment of simulation games. The choppy backdrops and graphical shortfalls never bothered me since the gameplay was extremely engaging. It was only problematic when I played in docked mode and the words were too hard to read on my television. Playing in handheld mode rectified the issue and fortunately, Railway Empire is well suited to the Switch. This console port is seamless without a mouse and keyboard and I never ran into frustrating controls.
The superb sound effects add realism with churning wheels, whistling steam and pumping pistons. You can even ride along and take control of the whistle yourself. A great feature if the real world is overwhelming and you need to blow off some steam.
End of the Line
There’s no shortage of tracks to put down and Railway Empire is an elaborate simulation for any railroad enthusiast. I found a lot of enjoyment tending trains. The campaign presented enough challenge to keep me on my feet while other modes were relaxing ventures. With only a handful of deep simulation games on Nintendo Switch, Railway Empire is one you definitely want to board.
- Deep Strategy
- Relaxing Gameplay
- Intuitive Mechanics
- Smooth Port
- Modest Graphics
Railway Empire – Nintendo Switch Edition’s gameplay stays on the track while the graphics bring up the caboose.