Mini Metro Review

Screenshot from Mini Metro
Uh oh, that's a lot of passengers at that station... GAME OVER YEAAAAHH

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Dinosaur Polo Club
  • Publisher: Dinosaur Polo Club
  • Release Date: 7 Nov 2015
  • Time played: 5 hours

What is it

Dinosaur Polo Club is an indie development studio based in New Zealand and was formed in 2013 by Robert and Peter Curry. A game called Mind the Gap was developed in April 2013 for the Ludum Dare 26 game jam and a pre-alpha build of what would become Mini Metro was made available to the public in September. The game was greenlit for Steam and then entered Steam Early Access before finally being released on 7 November 2015.

Mini Metro is a minimalist train network simulation game where your goal is to ensure passengers at a variety of train stations are transported to the correct destinations. You achieve this by drawing railway lines between stations but passengers won't just go to any station that comes available, they all have different wishes on where they want to go. For example, if a passenger shows up as a triangle in a station's queue, this means they wish to travel to a triangle station and will take the shortest route to get there. In a normal game of Mini Metro you only have limited resources to achieve these goals. You can extend existing train lines as long and as many times as you want, but the number of train lines is limited. Other resources that are limited are the number of locomotives, carriages, tunnels/bridges and interchanges you can build. At the end of each in-game week you'll be given the choice of which of these resources you want to stock in reserve for the next week, but this is assuming you survive to the end of the week since if you ever have a situation where you have too many passengers queueing up at a station, they will get angry and a countdown will start before it's game over.

The game has generally favourable reviews on Metacritic with a Metascore of 77 on PC and an "Overwhelmingly Positive" rating on Steam based on 6,672 user reviews.

How I got it

I managed to get a lot of games in February 2017 thanks to the Humble Freedom Bundle which raised over $6 million for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). I love transport simulation games ever since playing Chris Sawyer's Transport Tycoon back in the early 90s so it was inevitable that I would eventually give Mini Metro a go, but what pushed me to try it sooner was a Steam Spring Cleaning Event this year which gave me a few recommendations on what to play next. Under the "Play Next" category (which uses the new "Play Next" algorithm) Steam suggested I try Mini Metro and that's how I got into trying it out. I also had an Android version of Mini Metro lying about on Humble Bundle so I also took the opportunity to try out that version too.

Screenshot showing the Shinkansen locomotive option in Mini Metro
The Osaka Map gives you the choice of using a Shinkansen on your train line

What I like:

Music is created by the game

Disasterpeace (composer of soundtracks for Fez and Hyper Light Drifter) has done well in creating a minimalist soundtrack that matches the minimalist visuals of the game: every time a new station is built, a new line is completed, a new customer waits in the queue, the game music reacts to these events and changes accordingly.

Like SimTower of Transport Tycoon lite

While this game is by no means as complex and rewarding as games such as SimTower and Transport Tycoon, it can be quite satisfying in short bursts and has similar mechanics to the aforementioned games since your role is basically traffic or logistics management. If you gain enjoyment out of trying to reduce queues and transport passengers as quickly and efficiently to their destinations as possible, this is the game for you.

Simple to learn, hard to master

The game has an easy-to-use interface which you'd expect from a game that works on mobile devices: all you have to do is draw train lines between stations and plonk new locomotives and carriages. Games are often quite easy at the start, offering little in the way of a challenge, but the difficulty definitely ramps up when more stations pop up on the map. The key to success is knowing how to use your limited resources effectively and probably learning how to redirect train routes in order to avoid long queues.

Different types of trains

The default train is a six-seater with six-seater carriages. However, you'll get to play in cities with smaller carriages (e.g. four-person carriages), trams as well as Shinkansens (bullet trains) when playing on the Osaka map.

Daily challenges

Every day you're offered with a new challenge where you can compete with other players for the top score. This is a great way to keep interest in the game especially for those that have no chance of ever beating the all-time top scores for a map (some are quite inconceivable but more on that later).

Steam Achievements

The game has 49 Steam Achievements you can work towards and 5 Steam Trading Cards to collect.

Screenshot of High Scores list for London map in Mini Metro
Some of these high scores seem a bit dubious

What I dislike:


Sometimes when I check the high score list there are huge differences in terms of the score which makes you suspect that there's probably some cheating going on. For example, for the London map, the current high score is 2,147,483,647 (2.1 billion passengers!), the second-highest score is 170,125,441 and the third-highest score is 10,000,015. These scores are different by orders of magnitude and considering the fifth-highest score and below are less than 155,617, it seems a bit suspicious: either there's cheating involved or the top players are very persistent and patient.

No map editor

There is a "Creative" mode that allows you to place your own stations wherever you want (instead of the game deciding this for you as it does in "Normal" mode) but you still don't get a chance to actually create your own geography, such as placing where the rivers and bays go. Having something akin to a map editor could've inspired players to have a go at creating maps based on their home cities (provided their home cities actually have surface water).

Score – 7/10 (Good)

If you like games like Sim Tower and Transport Tycoon but want a quick game without all the business management overhead, Mini Metro is quite a viable alternative. Unfortunately, the game has no map editor and some of the all-time high scores in the game seem dubious but if you're happy to just compete against your friends or through the daily challenges, it can be quite rewarding.

Is the game worth $14.50 AUD?: No. You can get the game on mobile platforms for under 2 bucks and arguably, the game is probably more suited for the platform. However, the game often goes on sale and if you can get it for $10 or less, I think that's a fairer price.

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[ LINK: Mini Metro Official Website ]