I’ve been playing Mini Metro for what seems like forever, probably since last summer at least. Back then it was in some sort of alpha but still a lot of fun to play. So imagine my happiness when I went back to check on the game and saw that it was officially in beta…and the game now looks and plays better than ever.
Mini Metro is a puzzle game. Your job is to build and manage a subway system for a city. Train stations keep popping up and you have to keep connecting them all with your colored train lines. Of course, you don’t have unlimited resources and you have to build with what you’re given (and earn)…such as a limited number of lines, limited tunnels to cross rivers and other similar features. If one of your train stations gets overcrowded it’s game over.
For me, the fun in Mini Metro is designing a system…a system of tracks, cars, stations and trying to be efficient in transporting as many people as possible. There is no “end” outside of the number of passengers you take to destinations. My high score is 1500-something but on average things get complicated about the 700 mark. The challenge in Mini Metro is cleverly disguised and you’ll find you can’t stop playing after just one or two tries. Somehow you always know you can do better and want to try another strategy.
Visually, Mini Metro is wonderfully simple yet not retro. Let’s face it, the best part about a subway is the map and that’s exactly what Mini Metro looks like. You drag around the colored tracks to connect stations and the end result is a wonderful tube map. Even when I don’t get near a high score, the resulting map is often quite beautiful.
So the game looks great, plays great and has high replayability…but what I love most about Mini Metro is that it has a single focus: connect stations with tracks. There are no resources to mine or currency to gather. No gems. No coins. There aren’t any VIP passengers that get you more points…nothing like that. You’re playing to transport passengers and that’s it. It the ever-growing landscape of games that try to nickel and dime everything, it’s refreshing to see a game that knows exactly what it wants to be.
Seeing Mini Metro progress from alpha to now a beta has been wonderful. The pre-versions were very basic…simple white background with the train lines and station shape. The current version still follows that pattern but the little extras like menus and real-world cities are just cherries on top of an otherwise delicious ice cream sundae…and more is on the way. By the time this game is final, there should be music and other play modes.
Currently, Mini Metro is available to play online and on PC. I read that a mobile version is on the way and I hope so soon. Playing this on the iPad, using my finger to drag around tracks, would just be that much sweeter.