Train Valley 2: Community Edition – PS4 Review

It’s not very often I take on a review without knowing what I’m in for. Train Valley 2: Community Edition is a repackaged PC release for the Playstation 4. Coming from Lithuanian studio Flazm, it includes all DLC expansions plus a large selection of workshopped community levels. Building on the foundations of the first game,  this puzzler is primarily concerned with transporting goods.  The sheer breadth of content helps show what the game has to offer. It’s casual and relaxed but, like all good puzzle games, I enjoy the thinking process.

Each self-contained level gives you a landscape to command and stations to service. These stations produce goods and each city requires goods for a level to be completed. Rails can be plopped down, with some limitations and the challenge becomes finding the right path for success. Slopes and uneven ground can create problems, as can natural barriers like bodies of water. These can be traversed via tunnels and bridges, although these are expensive commitments that sometimes your budget cannot allow for.

That balance between budget and necessity is what keeps me going. Tracks are relatively cheap but it can quickly mount up. Money can often feel tight whilst deciding just what to produce and when. Sometimes that decision is easy to come by with resources being close together. In others, the landscape can present real problems. Level design really plays with these ideas of restrictions in some interesting ways. Sometimes I was dealing with slopes, other trains being regularly dispatched or, in one level, a canal that was very much in use.

The basics are pretty easy to pick up. Connecting stations up and dispatching trains to them is the bread and butter action. As routes get more complicated, switches need to be activated to make sure trains are getting where they need to be. Things can be demolished to make way for construction but the most common expense is the rails themselves. It controls fairly well with a tutorial level on hand to take you through the early going. I found things became second nature which allowed my brain to focus on the puzzle at hand. My only concern is how fiddly some of the rail placement can be on a controller. The isometric perspective can sometimes play havoc with my sense of direction.

It has been fun to figure out routes to goal and the extra objectives aren’t essential. Some of these are time-related but I never felt under pressure to hurry up. It’s a game that I’ve been allowed to tackle at my own pace and I enjoy the time to think. You can choose an option to start levels paused which does present an opportunity to survey the map before laying down rails.  Progression is very rigid.  Each level has five star objectives to chase but these aren’t pre-requisites to unlock the next level.  Fulfilling a town’s objectives is enough.

The isometric perspective does make some topography difficult to judge. That said, I do like the look of Train Valley 2. The original looked very simple, by comparison. The grid layout allows you to generally see the lay of the land at a glance. Locations and locomotives are nicely animated. Requirements for produce are clearly labelled and the information players need is well conveyed. It would’ve been nice to have some free camera control for those finer moments. Connecting tunnels can be tricky with entrances potentially obscuring where you’re laying tracks. Overall, it’s got a polished look that suits the game very well.  I also feel the game’s default speed can feel glacial.  Thankfully, you can play levels at double speed, if you don’t mind overshooting the extra time objectives.

I’ve been impressed by the variety. Whilst the problems I’ve faced have usually been the same, the aforementioned obstacles like rivers and canyons do well to freshen up the experience. It’s quite surprising just how many levels are in this package. As well as the base campaign of 50 levels, there are the two DLC packs and some community created levels that push the level count to beyond 200. It’s something I could see myself devoting dozens of hours to and it’s nice to see all this content in a complete package.

The Passenger Flow expansion focuses on commuter rail but, much like the main campaign, likes to inject freight routes and layer in more complications. Myths and Rails takes the railroading into a fantasy realm with dragons and magic which ultimately needs to be transported from A to B. At it’s core, it’s the same management of switches and expanding outwards but it’s great to see the twists being executed on.

It’s all accompanied by a very relaxed soundtrack. It’s very pastoral and, whilst the tracks do repeat often, it reinforces the casual nature of Train Valley 2: Community Edition. Chimes do well to inform the player of requirements being met or production being completed. Crashes feature a comedic dust cloud and generally the visuals retain a charming appeal.

I’ve been quite surprised by how much Train Valley 2: Community Edition has won me over. For such a simple premise, the execution is well done and the package feels very complete. Mechanically, it layers itself gradually whilst never really putting the player under any serious constraints. I really like what’s been done here and I can see myself taking months to rinse everything out of these intricate levels.

Train Valley 2: Community Edition
8 Overall
+ Delightfully charming visuals.
+ An astonishing amount of levels to tackle.
+ Mechanically simple to understand.
+ Has a relaxing soundtrack.
- The perspective can make placing rails feel occasionally clumsy.
- Sometimes the landscape can be difficult to read.
- The rigid campaign structure can feel very limiting.
- By default, the game's pace can feel leisurely and plodding.
I may have small battles with the controls but the comprehensive package of Train Valley 2: Community Edition is really compelling. I think the presentation is really polished and the ways in which the levels escalate is enjoyable to figure out. There's a leisurely feel to the visuals and sound which are very comforting and I never felt under extreme duress to complete a challenge. Perhaps it's a little too relaxed in its pacing but I have enjoyed tackling the game's many challenges.

About Mike

Mike gets all the racing games because he understands that stuff even though he doesn't drive.

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