Releasing today in Europe via Steam and in the US on Jan 30th. Railway Empire is an elaborate rail company building sim based in the America’s spanning 1830-1930. As a business tycoon you are setting your sites all over the countryside to grow your empire, competing against your rivals while also researching technology to give yourself every advantage. Railway Empire is bought to us from Germany developers Gaming Mind Studios and publishers Kalypso Media. Railway Empire is single player, available on PC, PS4, XboxOne and this is our review.
Railway Empires begins as exactly what any train and history enthusiast would hope, starting with three modes:
- Campaign – Chapters with challenges and scenarios
- * Free – Custom starting conditions including era (1830’s – 1930’s,) region, starting budget and challenges
- Sandbox – No finance challenges, time constraints or pressure from opponents.
Once you choose your mode you also choose your character that comes with story and scenario. General Jonathan Johnson was a little bit of tongue twister so I almost chose him but Tricia Jones became my traveling companion and for the sake of this review I attempted to play all modes then settled into sandbox.
Railway Empires has a great UI and soundtrack. Combining both, you immerse quickly to enjoy the historically correct train models and towns you build your stations in which is both educational and intriguing. Yes, the German accents disguised in American might break your immersion but you may also find the humor that comes with those accents entertaining. Every city and town is beautifully crafted, so much so I zoomed certain cities throughout every decade to look for differences. It doesn’t take long to grasp railway line placement once you get stations up but what I noticed in every other mode was how fast I ran out of funds so sandbox was definitely the good choice to play to see how I can do Texas justice with $10,000,000.
What’s missing at this point though is prompts, yes Railway Empire does have a nicely detailed tutorial but some players like me absorb information better when requiring action especially in a building sim. Referring to this, the company page and the engine shed becomes brain overload fast but this could also be a compliment to how much there is to take in to consideration in Railway Empire. There really is a lot to consider including do I put up signals or supply towers? Where do I place warehouses? I see no “best” indication so I am continuously guessing which is never a good tactic if you want to buy out businesses and populate towns. On the opposite end of the scale mechanics like personnel, random events and train malfunctions don’t have any control but would make all the difference to help players make the most of their game time.
A KIWI BIRDS EYE VIEW
Trains are my favorite mode of transport, coming from a Railway working family – so the thought of playing a building sim for trains was an absolute thrill. Railway Empire starts off in being the perfect way to also explore American history via locomotive and commodity but it is unfortunate very early in the game that I found Railway Empire doesn’t fully consider players making the most of their time which I would expect for the price of this game. Something that might help this greatly is a more intuitive user interface like being able to bring up all sub windows (ie personnel, company) minimized on a portion of the screen while still building.
Note: Our review was conducted on PC with a code provided by the developer.