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Nintendo Switch Game Review

Railway Empire


Format: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Kalypso Media Group
Developer: Kalypso Media Group
RRP: £35.99
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Age Restrictions: 3+
Release Date: 19 June 2020

Train simulators have had a long and noble history, even Microsoft published one in 2001. Most of them allowed you to drive various trains through different terrains, which while fun for train enthusiasts the gameplay tended to feel somewhat passive.

Review imageOriginally released for the XBox, PS4, and PC, Railway Empire has been released for the Switch, by Calypso Media. The game works both on the Switch and the Switch Lite.

The game is essentially a sandbox world, although it is also tied to the actual development of the railways in America in the campaign mode, through narrated cut scenes. With its various modes and depth of gameplay, this is one of the best sims to appear on the Switch. As well as the two main play options you also get sandbox mode and free play.

Control-wise, the game is easy to pick up and uses a combination of the joy-cons and buttons, more impressive is that you can use the touch screen, in handheld mode.

Of course, you are not just laying track and shunting trains. Trains need infrastructure, water towers, stations, and places worth going to. The more money you make the more advanced technology becomes available to you. In total, the game has forty trains to acquire as well as a plethora of other ephemera.

Review imageTo get the most out of the game you will have to play the tutorials, some are even obligatory. Your choice of the train becomes important. Depending on your experience and the date the technology of the trains will change, but there will always be some more suitable for flat terrain which will struggle to carry a load over an elevated landscape.

As you play you can unlock many scenarios – one of the other gameplay modes – opening up several in America from coast to coast, as well as scenarios in South America and Europe, all of which are based around historical events.

You start the game gently, just setting your first railway up between two points. These towns are not just there randomly, each produces differing produce, produce you can transport for a profit. You see where we're going here. Build stations and track, transport goods for profit, and use that profit to both expand and improve your railway. Each town will have a submenu that will tell you what the town produces and what its citizens are looking for.

Review imageIn campaign mode, the game will provide you with a list of objectives to complete, from delivering specific goods to certain towns or expanding your network to link up with a certain number of people. As the game follows the history of the railway these objectives are year specific and you will have to complete them to finish a chapter.

With limited resources, you will also have to be aware of the terrain you are traversing. Laying flat track is cheap, but when you are considering crossing rivers – gonna need a bridge – or worse still trying to get past or through a mountain, then the cost can be prohibitive. But of course, it depends on what resources and towns are on the other side and how quickly you are going to recoup your investment.

Review imageAs the game progresses you eventually come across AI players who are also trying to expand their rail system. Depending on your personal choice you can join up with them or set yourself in direct competition, although if you do this be aware that they can send people to blow up your trains and track. On the other hand, you can do the same to them, but this sort of war will have financial consequences.

Obviously, as a port from a game designed to play on television and more powerful systems, there have been some downgrading of the graphic, most noticeably when you opt to ride along with your train, although nothing which has a significant impact on the game. More importantly, while the game will play well on both the switch and the switch lite, given that the lite has the smallest screen it can be a bit difficult to read any script, and detail is not often readily seen. On the plus side, both the Bluegrass music and vocal track are both top-notch.


Charles Packer

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