The Simple Chaos Of Mini Metro

I don't know what your Steam library looks like but mine is a mess. There are hundreds of games that have accumulated over the years through bundles, sales and what have you. Some are sorted into categories. Many are not.

Installing a random game and giving it a go feels like going on an expedition to discover lost treasure. My most recent expedition unearthed Mini Metro.

Mini Metro is a simplistic subway simulator by New Zealand developers Dinosaur Polo Club. Passengers appear at stations and it's your job to draw routes so that they can reach their destination. Everything is communicated with shapes that are both easy to parse at a glance and strangely charming. The triangle passenger wants to go to the triangle station. The square passenger wants to go to the square station.

The initial needs of each city can be met without much effort. There are three types of stations and a small area to cover. As time passes the needs become greater and so does the challenge. Instead of three stations to connect there are over a dozen with a silly amount of different shaped stations for passengers to travel to. The cities start to sprawl and your simple little rail network has become a bloated mess of legacy lines struggling to keep up with demand.

You unlock more trains, train lines, carriages and bridges to help keep up with the city. They're enough right up until the point where your railway system collapses due to overcrowding. Then you start over to see if you can do better.

Yet in spite of the apparent chaos, Mini Metro is surprisingly zen.

Chords announce the development of a new station as a metronome ticks away in the background. Desperate passengers chirp for attention as satisfied ones sound off a short note when they reach their destination. The procedural soundtrack from Disasterpiece -- who previously worked on Fez and Hyper Light Drifter -- helps to keep the panic down as things spiral out of control.

Every time I sit down with Mini Metro I plan to spend ten to fifteen minutes with a city before doing something else with my time. It's never ten to fifteen minutes. Each game ends with a strong desire to begin again. The start of the game is so calm, so inviting and the end of each round leaves me with a sense that I can do better if I had just planned things out.

Planning was never my forte and it is often my downfall with Mini Metro. Players that think ahead and plan their train lines to meet future demand could potentially move thousands of passengers in one play. Me? I'm happy when I crack a thousand.

It's the escalating difficult and sparse resources that get me. Admittedly, the challenge and appeal of the game is to make the most out of the tools available. Trying to put together neat little lines that alternate between different station types works for a time. Right up until the bit where the outer suburbs pop-up and demand that they too join the rail network. Then the simple East-West line becomes a cross-city nightmare that suburban commuters are forced to take, provided there's enough room on the train for them by the time it gets to their station.

Things only got worse once I discovered that you can turn those long lines into loops. Real world train networks often use loops to help alleviate issues that arise. I use loops to see just how silly things can get.

They can get very silly indeed.

Mini Metro is available on Steam, iOS and Android.


    This looks surprisingly fun.

    I've been a little hooked on Factorio at the moment, but I keep forgetting what half of my industrial monstrosity actually does.

    Might have to check this out later.

    Can't believe you had missed this one. It got a lot of attention a few PAX's back. What's your best score on Melbourne? Im at 846.

      Would have to look to see what my Melbourne best is, but I consistently get 1400 on most maps, just by basing everything around a loop for the first 8-10 stations.

      Couple of tips - try to have a train spare, so you can drop it next to that overloaded station to ease the pressure. Interchanges are powerful, try to put them at junctions where the rare station passengers get dropped off.

      If you use a main loop approach, have other loops tapping into that, with loops for each of the compass points if possible. Don't necessarily need to make them loops at the start, but you can pause the game, undo the tracks, and rebuild if needed.

      Its a surprisingly complex game for something that looks so simple.

    I love mini metro! I picked it up in one of those super cheap humble bundles and sort of forgot about it at first too. it's one of those games that i always put on when i don't want to think too hard or I'm listening to a new album. it has no right to be as zen as it is but somehow manages it

    +1000 Mini Metro.

    I burned a ridiculous amount of time on this game over the last few years, first when it was a browser game, then on Android.

    So good.

    Yeah Mini Metro is great, and I was so happy to see Melbournerepresented among its maps.

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