By Michael Fontanini / May 8th, 2019
|Title||Train Valley 2|
|Developer||Alexey Davydov, Sergey Dvoynikov, Timofey Shargorodskiy|
|Release Date||April 15th, 2019|
|Genre||Trains, Puzzle, Simulation|
Train Valley 2 mixes the train genre with puzzles. You’ll need to build rails and micromanage your trains and switches to get workers and goods where they need to go. Can you build a good rail network to connect the stations and manage all of your trains and track switches to get stuff to their destinations without crashing your trains?
The game’s campaign mode has a total of 50 increasingly complex levels to play through. Depending on how well you do, you can earn up to five stars per level, meaning there are 250 stars in all. They unlock new cosmetic-only skins for the locomotives you can use. While playing a level, there are five star icons on the right of the screen showing your progress on them. If a star icon has a red circle with a line through it, then you failed that star and will have to start the level over again if you want to get it. There is no way to save your progress partway through a level. Later levels can take around 20-30 minutes each time you play all the way through the level.
Each level is composed of a number of stations. Some stations will have yellow triangles with certain resource icons shown inside them. These are the goals you must complete to clear the level. In the screenshot below, the bottom-left station still needs to receive six more cows and two more rocks. You can also see in the screenshot below that there are some arrows on the tracks. These are the track switches, and you can click on them to flip them in order to control which path a train will take when it reaches the switch. You’ll have a whole lot of these in later levels.
You will need to haul workers to production sites to produce goods, as well as any resources that are needed to produce said goods. The large circle icon above a station shows you what resource it produces. Stations that produce workers generate them continuously over time. Smaller circle icons over a station show you what resource(s) the station requires to produce its goods.
You can also change the game speed in the upper right of the screen, or pause the game. The pause function is very useful when you are going for the stars, but need a moment to consider what you should do next. This way, the time you spent thinking doesn’t count on your total level play time. On some levels, you can’t do this if you want all five stars, because a few of them have a star whose objective is to beat the level without ever using the pause button.
Bizarrely, a worker is expended each time an item is produced, so these production facilities seem to have some serious workplace safety issues! This means that you need to keep hauling in more workers and goods to the station until you’ve produced enough of its product to meet your goals.
Products produced from one or more raw materials are generally worth significantly more than the raw materials. When you start hauling some of these more complex goods, you’ll start to amass some decent funds and can consider upgrading trains or building things like tunnels and bridges. They can be built only in certain places where the terrain is appropriate. These are very expensive to construct, especially the longer they are. So you’ll want to wait until you really need them before making the investment. Some levels also have stations that you have to build before you can use them, too.
The star goals for each stage always consist of three time challenges, and two other goals. In the early levels, it is easy to five-star a stage. However, it becomes tedious once you’re around one-third of the way into the game. It can be quite a pain because in some cases one tiny mistake can fail a star objective. For example, one star objective on some stages is to not let a single train arrive at a wrong station.
You can very easily screw up and miss some star objectives like “don’t let any train enter a wrong station,“ as you have increasingly larger numbers of trains and track switches to micromanage as the game goes on. All it takes is one track switch that is set wrong to end up with a train in the wrong station, or worse, crashing into another train! The time challenges can be pretty brutal as well. You must get all five stars in a single run, too. If you try again and fail a star you got on the previous run, then you may lose that star. This is because the game is showing you your best run until you get all five stars, but it feels a bit cheap when you first notice you’ve lost a star you already had.
Once you get a little ways into the game, more mechanics are introduced. The image above shows a power plant. In a level with a power plant, you’ll need to supply it with the required resources in order for it to make power. Some of the other stations will have a lightning bolt icon now, meaning that you have to give them the resources they need, and keep the power plant running so they have power. Otherwise they will produce no goods.
Some levels have a unique gimmick. In the image above, this level has a big tesla tower in the middle. Every so often, it will charge up as seen in the screenshot. When it does so, it destroys three of your track pieces at random. This is dangerous, because if a train runs into the end of a track, it will explode just like it does when it hits another train.
You may have noticed in the lower left corner of many of the screenshots that you can buy more trains, and upgrade existing ones. If a train is in a crash, you can repair it as well. You can usually only upgrade a given locomotive once in a level. This makes it faster, and also allows it to pull an extra car so it can haul more stuff per trip. You’ll need to be careful if you have an upgraded locomotive running on the same path as one that is not upgraded, as it can catch up to and crash into the slower train. Crashes will damage the trains and they’ll disappear from the tracks. This can also destroy the track section where the crash happened. So you’ll have to repair both trains before you can use them again and rebuild that track section.
Train Valley 2 has a charming, minimalist art style that uses low poly models with solid color shading rather than textures. It uses a palette of bright, vibrant colors that are pleasing to look at. Its art style looks pretty nice, and the models are more detailed than you might first expect based on them being low poly. The music tracks are quite good, and also tend to be rather catchy. The sound effects are also very nice. Whenever you send a train out of a station, you’ll hear its horn blow, for example.
Train Valley 2 markets itself as a casual game, but it will keep you on your toes (especially when going for all the stars). Beyond the 50 levels the game comes with, it also supports Steam Workshop. In the Workshop mode, you can find nearly 500 more levels at the time of this writing. The game’s later levels can feel like there is too much going on, especially when you are going for all five stars, because there can be a lot to micromanage. I’ve spent about 30 hours working the rails so far, and there is far more play time if you go for all the stars and/or play in Workshop mode. If you really want to unlock all 12 cosmetic locomotive skins in the main game, you’ll unfortunately have to earn all 250 stars. That’s a royal pain, and the cosmetic locomotive skins just aren’t worth the trouble. There did not appear to be any way to use them in Workshop mode either. Train Valley 2 is available on Steam now for $14.99. Can you micromanage your rails well enough to beat the game and get all 250 stars?
Review copy provided by publisher.
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