Ever owned a train set when you were small? Owning a physical set today is quite a demanding task that you may not necessarily have room for in your home, and it can also be quite an expensive hobby. Want to relive your youth of playing with trains? Look no further than this little gem currently on Steam for £6.99/$9.99.

Train Valley is a train management game with a puzzle twist element as you progress through each level. A simplistic and refreshingly enjoyable game, Train Valley will keep you occupied for hours so make sure your schedule is free before setting off. The aim of the game is pretty straightforward, build your tracks and guide your train to the stations of that train’s allocated colour.

However, as simple as the game is, it can become pretty hectic as you try to stay accident-free whilst guiding your trains. When you have multiple trains running at the same time and new stations, it’s easy to lose track. Luckily, the developers have included a pause button so you can collect your thoughts and get back to your plans without having any accidents, hopefully.

Train Valley appears to be a casual game, and if you approach it in this manner you will have problems and get punished for having such a brazen attitude. The main battle with this game is trying to manage all your trains schedules effectively. Your money is funded by the successful deliveries you make and having accidents or wrongly stationed trains will have a serious impact on your bank account. Your timing is also a factor in terms of what you’ll get paid when the train finally arrives at the station, the longer you take, the less dollar you receive. It certainly adds to the tension.

Another factor, which is an only negative for me, is at times actually drawing your tracks can be an annoyance, namely getting them to go where they need to be. It took me several goes just to get the hang of making the tracks go and creating actual junctions out of them. Obviously, re-constructing new tracks due to errors, again, effects the funding you have and consequently can affect your overall progress. I daresay many of deliveries are now resting in that delivery graveyard.

The game progresses through 24 levels, which takes you through different eras in time that provides the player with different sets of trains/technology to play around with, for example: Europe (1830–1980), America (1840–1960), USSR (1880–1980) and Japan (1900–2020). As the technology improves, i.e. trains get faster, the game introduces more difficult and tasking game play. In addition, there is a Sandbox mode which provides the player with complete control over the level. There is no money and no real objective, a useful tool to get used to the game and test out your track laying skills and train coordination.

For a game listed so cheaply, I was expecting some dire attention to detail, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Train Valley has clearly undergone some TLC when it comes to its appearance. The striking colours and detail in the environment are clearly thought out and are presented suitably to the style of the game. I was even impressed by the use of shadows that fall off of the cliff sides. Simple but effective, in my eyes and it certainly added to the inherent charm that Train Valley presents.

The graphics are ‘cartoon-ish’ but not to the extent where it looks ridiculous. In fact, the only ridiculous part of it is how good it looks. The style of the game gives a charming look and an inviting one.

Another factor of the game that is thoroughly enjoyable is the soundtrack. The main screen boasts a country style sound as you enter the 19th century world of industrial trains. I have mentioned that getting to grips with the track layout is difficult, but the music complements it so well that  you don’t feel angry when learning to get to grips with game. It’s frustrating but the soothing music prevents you from whacking your monitor.

In conclusion, Train Valley is both enjoyable and frustrating. However, to truly appreciate this game I believe you have to enjoy micro-managing games as a whole. Being a fan of these style of games I thoroughly enjoyed the management side but with the puzzle twist throughout each level it really added that extra spice.

This review is based on a copy kindly provided by @TrainValley. You can check out the game for yourself here.