Are you interested in designing a city without the burden of applying for planning permission? Mini Motorways is a resource management puzzler that begins with a solitary house and destination then becomes increasingly complex.
The former is represented by a two-tone rectangle — a clever way of denoting the pitch of a roof — and the latter a large square which could perhaps indicate a place of work or a shopping centre. Your first task is to lay down a road to link the house to the larger building, upon which, from your bird’s eye view, you’ll see a car head towards its destination. Moments later, another house and destination will appear. The buildings come in a variety of colours and must be colour-matched to ensure that structures of the same colour are linked by road. A steadily increasing number of pins on each destination indicate how many people need to reach it, and if supply can’t meet demand, it’s game over.
A clock indicates the passing of time — the speed of which can be adjusted if you need more time to think — and at the end of each week you’ll be given the opportunity to choose one of two potential upgrades for your road network. You have a finite amount of road sections that can be laid, and so considered planning is required. Do you opt for a larger number of road segments, or half the amount and pursue the option of a roundabout or traffic lights? Or perhaps a bridge is needed; critical when a river divides a house from the rest of civilisation.
The most drastic change to your landscape is the construction of a motorway, allowing you to quickly connect two distanced locations. Aesthetically, the motorways create quite an ugly change to your carefully mapped network, like spaghetti straddling your existing roads and buildings. In a brilliant piece of game design, there’s an almost imperceptible gradual zoom-out as your map grows and your city becomes more complex in design, with another nice touch being the steady increase of frustrated car horns.
Succeed in funnelling a certain number of journeys from A to B, and further playable locations unlock. The target numbers aren’t too outrageous, meaning that most playthroughs will reap rewards. There are Daily Challenges to tackle as well, which add design restrictions that challenge your problem-solving, and online leaderboards log your results. It’s a shame however that your progress for only one city location can be saved at a time, as this means you can’t dip in and out of different challenges; your focus must remain on one map at a time.
With a selection of levels named after cities around the world, each with their own beautifully distinctive colour palette, Mini Motorways is a quietly addictive puzzle game that builds upon the foundations of its predecessor (literally, what with Mini Metro tasking you with mapping out an underground network of trains). It’s an evolution of what came before; a neat idea wrapped in a puzzle structure that manages to be extremely easy to understand, and yet increasingly complex as your creations grow. What next for the series? Maybe it’s time to take to the skies…
Mini Motorways Review £11.99
With its gentle ambient sounds and pastel colour palette, Mini Motorways presents an enjoyable and addictive city management challenge. It’s a particularly immersive treat when played in handheld mode, featuring a steady difficulty curve that lures you back for more.