Game review: Mini Motorways (PC)

Dinosaur Polo Club’s follow-up to Mini Metro, Mini Motorways has added Wellington, NZ to the list of cities players can cover with roads.

Every now and again along comes a game that’s so simple and yet so devilish that you have difficulty putting it down. Mini Motorways is one of those games. Similar to its predecessor, Mini Metro, the game uses a simple interface for players to create road networks and keep traffic moving.

The game features a selection of cities like London, Paris, and Dubai, with New Zealand’s Wellington just added to the list. The campaign has players unlocking each city in turn by meeting trip targets before the road network breaks down (which it will). There are also daily challenges that allow players to visit cities not yet unlocked.

Each of the cities is a diagrammatic representation of the real place, sans roads. Wellington, for instance, features the iconic harbor around which you need to build your road network.

It’s not a complex affair like Sim City or Cities Skylines. The player’s only concern is connecting an increasing number of houses to workplaces of a matching color via roads. Houses and workplaces seem to pop up at random, each needing to be connected to the road network. At the end of each week, players get to choose extra road lengths and other infrastructure components like tunnels, bridges, roundabouts, traffic lights, and motorways.

The cities start out slowly, with just a single house and a destination. Moving the cursor from one building to the other constructions and road between the two, allowing cars to travel along it. If there’s water or a mountain and you have a bridge or tunnel component in your library, the road will continue through the obstruction, if not, you’ll need to find another route.

Buildings start to appear faster and faster, with the roads getting increasingly busy. As traffic increases mitigations such as roundabouts or traffic lights can be employed to get traffic moving more efficiently.

Road lengths and other components are finite in number, so you can’t just go mad laying roads all over the show. The road routes may need to be revised to optimize traffic flows. Running a motorway to bypass the busiest areas may also help drivers get from A to B. The game ends when a destination does not receive enough visitors to fill the car park, essentially gridlocking your city.

For such a simple premise, Mini Motorways offers some very tense gameplay. I found myself watching the calendar dial countdown to Sunday night just so I could replenish my road parts and connect the isolated house to my network. There was also a crafty bit of emergency rerouting to get cars to flashing destinations that were about to cost me the game.

It’s not the most complex game and with only twelve cities, you’ll likely tear through them quickly. The challenges offer some replay value, and you’ll find that every playthrough is different, as well.

The game is slickly presented with a rather fetching minimalistic style that very much suits it. The uncluttered user interface and clean graphics make the game not only look very nice in a simple sort of way but also very easy to pick up.

Mini Motorways is a rare gem of a game that is hard to put down again. It also offers Kiwis the opportunity to have a go at sorting out their capital, Wellington’s traffic.

Mini Motorways is out now for Windows PC, iOS and MacOS. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for this review.

Verdict: 8/10

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