Solving puzzles have always been an integral part of gaming, but what shape and form it takes is the real crux of any experience and in Dinosaur Polo Club’s latest outing, Mini Motorways continues the legacy of the studio’s penchant for minimalist transport sims that casts a different light on how urban planning is the ultimate puzzle itself.
Following the success of subway-themed Mini Metro, this follow-up brings the action above ground into the busy urban sprawls of Los Angeles, Tokyo, Dubai, and more. Of course, everything starts with a blank slate, awaiting the player’s god-like intervention to get things moving.
The premise is quite simple – plan and implement a growing road network linking commuters to where they need to go. Players start things off with a home or two with a nearby shopping centre, and just connect the right coloured houses to their similarly coloured destinations. Subsequently, these buildings will start accruing pins, which requires the commuters to collect, and the more pins collected, the higher your score.
A couple of houses soon give way to communities, and shopping centres develop into multi-building attractions, all while the commuters drive about in this network of your own making. The initial tight and focused view will be a distant memory, with Mini Motorways pulling out gradually and impressively as your empire grows.
More houses will begin appearing on the map, sometimes congregating, sometimes on the other side of the map. Your initial plans of a straight road from home to shopping destinations are instantly rendered hopeful thinking, as intertwining roads are soon required to get everyone where they need to go.
Thankfully, Mini Motorways does a fantastic job of keeping up the clarity, whether you are just starting out or waist-deep in the mire of public transport planning. Neighbourhoods become infinitely more complex, and so do your tools.
Placing and removing roads can be done easily using the mouse, with the game providing a useful pause function if you are seeking perfect turns and slants. As the week comes to an end, players will be presented with a choice of enhancements, such as a bridge with more road tiles, or a motorway that comes with fewer road tiles.
These bundles of improvements are always randomised, so you are always taking a risk with your decision since you have no idea what the game is going to throw at you the following week. Having a house pop up across the river with no bridge in sight has certainly broken the resolve of many an urban planner in Mini Motorways.
The aforementioned motorway is an invaluable tool that can literally bridge the gap when you are faced with mounting traffic problems. It can be used to cross water, and provide a vital avenue to funnel commuters to their immediate destinations in the most direct manner. Other tools, such as roundabouts and traffic lights, regulate traffic and add to the variety when growing your chosen city.
Players will also have to deal with the general geographical makeup of any given map when planning their city. Hills, valleys, and other natural features are there to be mastered, and learning how best to navigate these obstacles will indicate how far you can go in the game. However, there is nothing quite like seeing a city grow in size and life as a result of your forward thinking, this is a unique joy that only Mini Motorways offers.
At the core of it all, Mini Motorways offers a puzzle experience that is straight-up fun, with accessible mechanics that are also complex in depth the further you immerse yourself in this minimalist puzzler. The clean visuals, the calming music, every session in the game is providing a great escape from whatever problems you may have, a zen-like experience that is just amazing.
If that is not enough, players will always have high scores to chase, be it their own or the community’s, with daily and weekly challenges adding to the mayhem. While Mini Motorways may feel familiar to those that have come from Mini Metro, the entire package stands proud on its own and a must-go destination no matter what coloured house you come from.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
A stunning follow-up that continues to show the excellence of Dinosaur Polo Club, Mini Motorways is a smooth drive from start to finish.
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 7/10
Presentation - 10/10
Value - 9/10