Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Mini Motorways is a cute, minimalist, strategy simulation game where players are tasked with managing traffic. It looks simple and easy as heck until you play the game, and then you learn the perils of your decision as you drown in traffic with insufficient roads to get the cars to their destinations. At first, Mini Motorways feels like a zen experience with its calming music and simple appeal. Be warned because the difficulty increases exponentially with time. I absolutely love it.
Mini Motorways is incredibly simple to understand. Get the cars to their colored destinations and get as high a score as possible. To get a high score, players get points for collecting as many destination pins as possible. Over time, these pins will fill up the buildings. If the destination reaches a high number of pins, a countdown wheel will appear above the building. Players will need to get those pins before the timer causes a fail.
The catch to winning the game is that buildings will appear more quickly as time progresses. Plus, players are limited by how many roads, bridges, traffic lights, roundabouts, and motorways they have at their disposal. These traffic tools are acquired at the end of each week, where players can choose between two options like traffic lights or roundabouts. Often, players will receive road tiles along with these chosen options. It doesn’t take long before players have to strategize about their traffic layout.
The gameplay to achieve a high score is even more simple than the concept. Players require a mouse. Left-clicking and dragging will draw the road while right-clicking on a road or feature will remove it. All of the traffic options are displayed at the bottom of the screen where players can scroll over motorways, traffic lights, and roundabouts. To use any of these, players have to left-click and drag the feature to the desired location. Unlike the other features provided, the motorway needs to be placed at a starting location, and then the shield has to be dragged to an exit point. As I said, the game is simple. Even pausing the game requires one or two clicks of your mouse button on the clock in the top right!
Certain games boast a minimalist style in comparison to others on the market, which wouldn’t be wrong to state for any of them. However, Mini Motorways is even more minimalist than many games. This isn’t even a low poly graphics style, it is as simple as Stick Death: The Game, Thomas was Alone, or Hook. Each one is stripped down to a bare minimum and sets them apart from others.
The fact that the graphics are as simple as they are provides an interesting set of pros and cons. One of the pros would be, the game is friendly for all ages of players, especially as there are colorblind and dark mode options in the game. (Thank you for that. While I really loved Antichamber, the game coloring was too white and hurt my eyes after extended periods of puzzle-solving.) Another pro would be that the game is not intensive. Mini Motorways is playable on Mac OS, Nintendo Switch, and computers. Thus, it’s easy for anyone to pick up and play. One final perk to the graphics is that the development focus was on the core gameplay.
I have an issue with the graphics in Mini Motorways because there are few distinguishing features between the cities. Yes, there are a couple of minor details that help, but I think the difficulty of the game hinges less on the city location and more on the topographical obstacles like large bodies of water or mountains. Even with that comparably small issue, the graphics and UI have the same aesthetic as Mini Metro, its predecessor.
After the game launched, Mini Motorways added a couple of new modes to the game. Before launch, players were only able to unlock cities that have a higher difficulty. Now players can try the daily and weekly challenges. I did try them both and find them challenging enough, which is to say that I need to work on my traffic managing skills!
The interesting thing about these modes is that they have certain restrictions. For example, daily challenges only give you one chance at posting a high score. It also has random modifiers, which adds to the challenge. However, weekly challenges will have mystery choices or extra trees that impede road placement.
In Mini Motorways, players have access to a photo mode. At the end of a level, players see their level stats like how many pins they collected. They are also given the option to take a picture of the map after failing. In the photo mode, players can choose to show parts of the UI, all of the UI, or none of it. It allows players to show the city or mode and what modifiers there were!
I can honestly say that Mini Motorways is a pleasant surprise for me. I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy this game just because of how simple in concept it is. And for me, a person who enjoys traffic management in games like Cities: Skylines, this showed me that I might not be great with traffic as I once thought! Needless to say, I’m going to be playing this title more because I love the strategy and casual nature. Also, I have a high score to go beat…
Don’t be fooled. Mini Motorways is a game that looks very easy to achieve a high score but will challenge you to beat other players. It’s a casual and easy game that anyone can pick up and will provide endless amounts of entertainment as you struggle to get as many pins as possible. Players who are looking for a fun simulation title to play should look no further. This one is for you!Score: 8.5 / 10