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10 Aug 2022

REVIEW: Sweet Transit (Early Access) on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
Sweet Transit is an intricate city builder where the railway is the king and the solution to all your city problems.

We have had hundreds if not thousands of city builder games over the years, and quite a few of them have been based around railways, and this is exactly where Sweet Transit sits. Although the railway system is the centre point of the game, it is much more than just about laying tracks, you also have to build a city, you have to create production lines, turn small villages into thriving modern cities.

You start off with a simple warehouse, and as you grow your village you will also grow your railway network.

As I mentioned earlier this is an intricate city builder, if layman's terms that means this is a detailed simulation. Perhaps a little too detailed and intricate for some hoping for more of an arcade experience.

Instead of just jumping straight into the game, you really need to start off with the tutorials, so you can get an understanding of how to get going. If you jump straight into the game, you will quickly get stuck and have no idea what you are doing. The onscreen display is not the best and I hope improves massively as the game further develops.

The tutorials themselves are ok, but also need improvement, especially when it comes to placing signal signs so the trains know where to go, that is beyond confusing and the tutorial does nothing to really help you understand it. In fact, I only got through that part of the tutorial by chance, and just trying to click everywhere until something worked.

And this I feel is the biggest problem with the game. Instead of creating a simple game which they could then slowly add to, and make more detailed and complicated, they seemingly have started with a ridiculously complicated system, and are now trying to work backwards in helping people understand how it works.

If you are only interested in attracting hardcore city builder enthusiasts, then that is fine, but if you want the casual gamer, then this is the worst possible way to go.

The idea of the game is great, start with basic trains, move through the steam era to the coal era and beyond, create production lines, keep the people happy and busy. But perhaps what they have done so far with this game is just make it way too overwhelming for the casual gamer.

I would suggest a simplified mode to work alongside the full-on simulation mode. Something that a player can pretty much start to play without having to spend ages trying to understand the mechanics of the game. This is where Sim City hit perfection. You could start off with no real idea of what you were doing, but as you built your city you learnt from your mistakes, restarted and got better each time.

The Good
I like the idea of the game; the graphics are decent and I rather liked the music too.

The Bad
The controls are poor, the tutorial is not great, and the on-screen options are confusing and just get in the way.

You can excuse a lot in an early access game, the developers are still figuring things out, and I appreciate the fact they are honest in wanting to create an intricate city builder sim here, but one of the biggest problems I have noticed with developers is that they never take a step back and look at the game from a fresh viewpoint. You can spend years and years making the perfect super detailed sim, but then at the end of all that time and effort, if hardly anyone purchases it, was it worth it? Keep things simple, grab the attention of the casual gamer first, and then go as intricate and detailed as your heart's desire. Help people fall in love with the game, and then give them everything they ask for.

No score for Sweet Transit since it is only easy access, and I am interested to see where the game goes in the future. If the developers will keep on the track they are currently on and just iron out the issues, or if they will try to appeal to a casual gamer, and ultimately sell a whole lot more copies of the game. It is not impossible to do both either, it is not one or the other. Arcade mode and Simulation mode. Side by side. I know personally I would enjoy this game much more playing it in an arcade mode where I could just have fun building fancy cities and railway networks.

Time will tell.

Out now on Easy Access

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