From the Model T to the airplane, the growth of American civilization and innovations in transportation go hand in hand. Railway Empire allows you a firsthand look into the growth of the American railway, and how that affects the country as a whole. As well, developer Gaming Minds Studios recently released add-on content for the game centering around Mexico. For those interested in management sims, Railway Empire will definitely appeal to you. It has a great learning curve, so while Railway Empire does get more complicated as you progress, you are eased into it. While it doesn’t go exactly in-depth in the historical aspect of it all, you do get a glimpse into a formative period of America’s growth. Railway Empire offers three modes, campaign, scenario, and free. They’re all pretty self-explanatory. Campaign guides you through a story of sorts, taking you across the different regions of the United States.
Campaign mode is the one I spent the most time in. It starts off frantic, attempting to connect all the major cities and business in your rail network as soon as you can. (Gotta beat the competition!) However, that may be your downfall, as you could see yourself out of money before you realize. In all modes you’re given a set of tasks to complete, but campaign naturally has the most focused tasks. You’re guided along pretty well as you first start-up, which makes things a little less overwhelming.
Like any management sim, things can get overwhelming pretty quickly. You’ve got the basics of maintaining the trains and making sure they are running properly. Each train also has its own rail line made up of specific stops. Then there’s also making sure each town is getting the supplies it needs and they are being built up. But once you get things going, it’s really addicting. You really feel like you are part of something grand while playing Railway Empire. It is a game I would very much describe as ‘epic’.
The scenario mode is pretty similar to the campaign mode, except you can choose different areas of the country to build your train empire, each coming with its own missions. I decided to play in my home state of New York, building a rail line connecting New York City to Albany. I also took advantage of Railway Empire’s add-on content and started to play in Mexico.
The Mexico content comes with a fairly interesting storyline, but story is not a main concern of Railway Empire. It does dive a little in the history of the railroad, but not so much where this could be called an educational game. Building a train in Mexico was enjoyable, as it was refreshing to have a different type of landscape and climate than the United States. The final mode is a true sandbox, and it was the most enjoyable of the three modes. I’m a big fan of sandbox sims, with no worries about money or restrictions. There are still money limitations with free mode, but you can choose how much you start off with.
There’s more than just laying down train tracks, however. Your railway business is directly tied with the growth of cities and towns across the country. As your line increases, you are able to add more institutions and landmarks to your neighboring towns. But watch out, because you have plenty of competition from rival tycoons. You better win those auctions and mark your territory quick, or you could be pushed out.
You do have a way to stay on top of your rivals, though. Through the research mechanic, you are able to add various upgrades to your empire. The obvious research is more powerful trains, but there are many ways you can increase your stronghold. I appreciated how the research allowed the game to dive into American history a little bit more, even if briefly. The interface of Railway Empire is clean and easy to use. There’s no fussy controls, and everything is very easy to grasp. Building a train line itself, however, can get a bit complicated. You need to make sure it isn’t running into any landmarks or settlements, and the train has to actually be able to safely move across it. Passing trains also need to be put into consideration, and the use of signals can help mark what side of the track is for what direction.
It’s a small feature, but you are also able to ride your trains across the country as they move. I loved being able to get a sense of what I had accomplished. It also truly shows how grandiose what you are doing truly is. From an overhead view it may not look like much, but once you’re on the ground you can see a turning point in civilization.
I was truly engrossed playing Railway Empire. Its mechanics are deep, yet not too complex. There is a challenge to playing the game, and making sure everything is operating smoothly. While it doesn’t dive too deep into history, it was enjoyable to get small glimpses into a bygone era. A deep well of content and modes makes Railway Empire a game that both strategy fans and newcomers can get invested in.
REVIEW CODE: A PS4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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