Railway Empire – Nintendo Switch Edition
Developer: Gaming Minds Studio
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Genre: Strategy, Tycoon, Simulation
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 19/06/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
History in the Making
There are events in history that are synonymous with the technologies that made them possible. The Westward expansion and colonisation of America and the idea of Manifest Destiny that accompanied, was in reality only possible because of the presence of the railway.
Railway Empire seeks to create some of that sense of optimism and opportunity by allowing the player to recreate that drive west through a single-player campaign as well as solo scenarios. But how successful is it? Was this a speeding expressway to success or another locomotive destined for the scrap heap?
The main campaign takes place over 5 missions. Which the player must work against a time limit to match or beat historically accurate events, from the completion of the transcontinental railway to the shipment of supplies for the union during the civil war. Similarly, the scenarios (in the US, Mexico and South America) offer much the same in terms of gameplay loop. Find a resource, build a station, ship resource to town, grow town, buy businesses, expand to next town add resources rinse and repeat.
It is a satisfying route to a destination if a little repetitive in the long term. I particularly liked the industrial aspects of the game, building and supplying my factories to generate money to research new locomotives and tech to make my railway faster and better than my rivals. The aforementioned research tree is as extensive and detailed as you might imagine given the subject here.
Similarly hiring crews for the trains and office as well as individuals to hinder the competition was also rewarding.
The game itself runs like a well cared for locomotive on the Switch, with no real slow down or stuttering. In fact I only experienced one crash which was caused (I believe) when I attempted to build a sawmill in the town that was meant to have logs shipped into it….. my attempt to cheese the system backfired and the game punished me by crashing…. several times. When I did this the way I was meant to I had no issues.
How does it look?
While the game runs great on the Switch in both handheld and docked play modes, it is not the best looking game on the hybrid system. Indeed there are times the game is not great to look at. However, given the genre of game that is not something that matters here and in no way detracts from the enjoyment, even when you choose to change the camera angle to the position in the window of the train cab and ride the rails.
Sound wise the game has some decent voice acting and trains that choo-choo like all good choo-choos should choo-choo, with the option to use the whistle when you ride in the cab. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to use the train whistle?
The only real complaint is the control system, which is not exactly intuitive. While it is something that you get used too and eventually becomes second nature, the learning curve is a little steep, and it’s not helped by an ambiguous and at times unclear tutorial.
Should you ride the rails?
Railway Empire is a game that can be a lot of fun, to the right person. There is plenty of content here to be going on with and having the future option to add maps of The UK, Germany and France through DLC at some point after release means there is plenty of scope to be the ruler of the rails for a long time to come.
However, the niche nature of the subject combined with some fuzzy visuals and un-intuitive controls mean the game will not be for everyone, those who like tycoon games or those who like trains and railway history are going to find plenty here to get their teeth into.
Rapid Reviews Rating
If you would like to buy Railway Empire for yourself, you can do so via the Nintendo eShop.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.