Mini Motorways Review

Cover image showing Tokyo

Review

Mini Motorways Review

July 19, 2021

By: Dashiell Wood

 
 

Originally released for both iPhones through the Apple Arcade subscription service and PlayStation 4 back in 2019, Mini Motorways has finally arrived on PC via Steam almost two years later. From the developers of the casual subway management sim Mini Metro, Mini Motorways, as the title would suggest, puts players in charge of maintaining a colorful road network in an ever-growing city.

As was the case with its predecessor, presentation is the star of the show and in my time with the game, the sleek minimalist visuals were consistently breath-taking. Whilst Mini Metro opted for bright primary colors on a relatively plain background, a slightly stylized allusion to the famous London Underground map, Mini Motorways is considerably more adventurous. All of the game’s 11 environments, loosely inspired by the layout of real-world cities, have their own unique color palette, each comprising an array of pastels more beautiful than the last. The models themselves, which represent vehicles, buildings, and scenery, are equally sharp with clean edges and shadow effects that lend the overhead perspective a pleasing sense of depth.

A screenshot showing a city
Your daily commute has never looked better

A More Enjoyable Commute

Gameplay is simple but engaging. The goal is to connect perpetually spawning houses to randomly placed shops, office buildings, and warehouses with roads, which you click and drag to place. Each building has its own color, which corresponds to the color of the house. Cars travel from the houses to the destinations of the corresponding color, with each completed journey rewarding score. If a car is unable to reach a destination within a set time, a countdown begins which will eventually trigger a game over. There are a limited number of road tiles you can place but they can be deleted and replaced at any time, so the strategy comes from keeping your road network optimized as demand increases. Creating layouts starts slow, but soon becomes an exhilarating rush as you frantically try and keep everything under control.

At the end of each successful week, measured by a calendar at the top of the screen, players are granted an option to obtain one of two randomly selected rewards. Useful items like roundabouts, traffic lights, additional road tiles, and motorways can be collected, with the tough choice of deciding between which you take adding another obstacle to overcome. A handful of maps also bring their own unique mechanics to the table, with mountains that must be tunneled through or rivers to bridge over blocking your path.

 
 
A screenshot showing a desert
Rivers are one of the obstacles you will face

The overall presentation is helped immensely by the incredible dynamic soundtrack, which responds to the onscreen action with delightfully minimalist sound cues. This extends to the menus and makes navigating the game’s smoothly animated interfaces a joy. Each map also includes a couple of unique national-inspired instruments, giving them all a unique regional flair. It is also worth commending the decent number of accessibility options available, with color-blind modes and even a dark interface option for nighttime play.

Style Over Substance

Unfortunately, where Mini Motorways suffers the most is in its tangible lack of long-term replayability. Unlike Mini Metro, which has had the benefit of years worth of content updates, Mini Motorways does not currently offer sandbox modes, Steam Workshop support, or even just the option to build locally-saved maps. I also found the 11 included levels soon became repetitive, despite being small in number, and that they did not offer enough variety to keep me engaged. After playing each of them a few times, I selected the one that I thought had the best color palette and never found a reason to go back and play any of the others again.

The daily challenges try to mitigate this sense of monotony by adding certain challenge requirements to overcome but it’s still disappointing that the mechanics seen here weren’t implemented in the base versions of the maps themselves. I can still pick up and enjoy a game of Mini Metro after years of frequent play sessions but I had felt like I had seen everything Mini Motorways had to offer in just a few hours and I am hoping that more will be added to this entry down the line.

Mini Motorways Review - A Little too Mini

Mini Motorways is a good casual traffic management sim with superb visuals and an absolutely enthralling soundtrack. Unfortunately, a lack of mechanical variety in maps and the sore absence of additional gameplay modes left me thirsty for more and stops this entry from reaching quite the same heights as its near infinitely replayable predecessor.


A copy of the Mini Motorways for PC was provided to TechRaptor by the publisher. The game is also available on iOS via Apple Arcade and PlayStation 4.

Review Summary

Review Summary

7.0
Mini Motorways is an enjoyable and often beautiful puzzler, but the lack of long term replayability makes it harder to recommend over its already excellent predecessor.

Pros

  • Superb Visual Design
  • Enthralling Dynamic Soundtrack
  • Easy to Pick Up and Play

Cons

  • Lacks Long Term Replayability
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A writer based in London, England, when I'm not playing videogames - I'm working behind the scenes on TechRaptor's social presence. Catch me hanging out in the official Discord server and if you've ever seen any of our highly unfunny posts on Twitter dot com, chances are I was the one behind it.

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