Mini Motorways is the brand new, single player, casual simulation game from developer Dinosaur Polo Party. Released on Steam and Apple Arcade, the game sees players build out the road networks of a bustling metropolis. With the traffic being the problem, cars just want to get back and forth to coloured buildings, with more slowly spawning as time passes. Whilst balancing the number of road pieces they use, players will link up homes to destinations – with roundabouts, tunnels, bridges and more potentially at their disposal. The aim is simply to survive for a long as you can before too many people are left waiting.
Unlike Mini Metro players are no longer limited by the number of lines, or in this case roads. Instead, players are limited by the number of road pieces they can draw. This shift has allowed the puzzle of linking things up to be completely changed, with random starting points and destinations spawning over time. While the entrance points, the homes, are a bit more flexible in how roads are drawn from them the shops and stores have set entrances for their car parks. This means players often have to save road pieces in case a new store opens, or be unable to connect it.
With the clock ticking, and the number of delivered citizens counted, as each in-game week passes the player is rewarded. Given a choice of two rewards these range from roundabouts and traffic lights through to bridges and motorways. The first two are there to ease some of the congestion that starts to build up. Bridges can be vital depending on the map being played, though aren’t as important as in Mini Motorways predecessor. Motorways cause this lower bridge dependency, as they span over rivers and buildings alike. While they slightly annoyingly cannot path onto roundabouts, these allow the vehicles to zoom over heavy traffic areas.
Included are a range of maps to unlock from the likes of Munich, through Rio de Janeiro, to Mexico City. Each naturally comes with it’s own challenges – often from the shape of the map and the water zones. For the first handful of levels players get bridges, motorways and such. Later maps introduce the issue of mountains that require tunnels. Working effectively the same as bridges, these still add a spot of additional variety into the mix. The game could go further in this though with perhaps one way roads, highways and such – though there is enough there to keep players coming back for more.
Mini Motorways isn’t just about slowly unlocking the map locations, there are also daily and weekly challenges. These come with a range of interesting modifiers such as doubling roundabout rewards or having all buildings be big business circles. Some even see the player starting with an abundance of motorways but no bridges. These challenge players in new, and random, ways – allowing the game to always have fresh traffic for players to manage.
For 90% of the Mini Motorways journey it is a chilled experience. Players slowly unlock more roads, adding them to allow the limited traffic to their growing network. Then comes the final 10%. As the roads start to jam up, the decisions made along the way, of where that roundabout was placed, start to come back to haunt you. With cars not going where you want them to fast enough, the destinations on the map start to build up and the panic of not getting the right cars around the city ramps up. It’s a stressful end when it inevitably all comes crashing down, though it doesn’t stop you hitting play again.
A couple of handy graphical options are presented to players during the tutorial. Just as a blue and red cars are about to hit your growing network, Mini Motorways brings up an option to switch over to colourblind mode. Given the game’s reliance on colour and not having different shaped vehicles for the different destinations, it’s great to see this instantly pop up and be made aware to players. Another nice touch is the ability to switch from a light mode to a dark mode, something rarely seen in PC games.
An autosave feature allows players to close the game and when booting back up they are greeted by a resume button at the top of the menu. Whilst this has helped numerous times when playing, as it enables gamers to play for short periods of time without wasting progress, it could be improved upon. On top of not being an overly obvious feature, the game only saves the latest attempt. This may be an attempt to stop players somehow boosting up the leaderboard but for most a couple of save slots would be beneficial.
Mini Metro was a fun, simplistic simulator of subway lines. Mini Motorways has taken that balance of a relaxing game that eventually becomes stressful and applied it perfectly to a different mode of transportation. From the more artistic look of the environments to the slight tweaks made to the puzzle, Mini Motorways is an improvement in many ways. There could be a sandbox mode, and a few extra road features, but gamers will easily be able to happily pass a lot of time watching the cars drive about!
(Editor’s Note: Mini Motorways was provided to us by the developer for the review.)