It’s funny, you’d think a game like Mini Motorways would prove to be a highly stressful time – the general idea of building roads at a moment’s notice in order to keep the flow of traffic moving hardly the kind to evoke immediate feelings of calm. Yet, for some strange reason, Mini Motorways does exactly that. I find myself oddly at peace watching cars navigate my labyrinthian network of roads.
Mini Motorways sees the player in charge of constructing roads about a city, directing cars from their homes to varying locations on the map. Homes and destination buildings are colour coded so cars leaving from a red home will want to head over to a red location, a blue car to a blue location and so on. Every car that successfully makes it to its destination will award the player a pin. The more pins you have the higher your score. Road pieces are limited in quantity so you’ll need to consider where you build rather than constructing anywhere and everywhere. Chances are you’ll come up short on road pieces forcing you to think quickly and remove and redirect your routes.
Things start out relatively simple as the odd home and location randomly spawn on your map requiring little more than a dot to dot style connection. Before long though, you’ll see plenty more different coloured buildings show up forcing more cars onto your roads and leading to potential build-ups of traffic. If things start to get too busy and cars can’t make it to where they want to go, then it’s game over and the city closes down.
With every passing in-game week, the game will replenish your sum of usable road tiles and better still offer the chance to choose one of two random upgrades such as roundabouts and motorways. Each proves highly useful (if used smartly that is) helping negate traffic build-up and offering cars multiple routes to reach their destinations. Bridges unsurprisingly allow construction over bodies of water, traffic lights help ease congestion at junctions, motorways can be built over your city creating faster ways for cars to get from one side to another and tunnels allow roads to travel through mountains. You don’t have to use an upgrade immediately, instead saving it for when the time is right.
The game features a number of different real-world cities, each with its own colour palette, layout and even obstacles to contend with while leaderboards offer a competitive element for those seeking it out (though I found competing against myself trying to best my top score to be incentive enough to revisit cities). One might describe the overall offering of modes and cities as fine enough, but those uninterested in shooting for high scores may run the risk of losing interest sooner than they’d like. Mini Motorways felt at its best and most enjoyable when playing in short bursts as opposed to hour-long sessions.
The game’s minimalist look combined with an array of eye-pleasing pastel colours creates a presentation as clean and easy to decipher as it is striking. You forget you’re essentially looking at a series of maps. Buildings and rivers have a real softness to them thanks to everything having a nice rounded style, while the way the roads build and bend as you drag along the screen is quick and satisfying.
On the subject of dragging, the game thankfully offers touch screen control, easily the best way to experience Mini Motorways. While a standard controller gets the job done well enough, it definitely lacks the finesse and efficiency of a quick tap and drag of your finger or stylus.
Mini Motorways is a fun and oddly relaxing traffic management sim that’s ideally suited for short play sessions. What it lacks in options and modes, it makes up for with a gameplay hook that’s surprisingly easy to pick up and offers plenty of room for strategic thinking. Who knew traffic could be so calming?
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Dinosaur Polo Club