Trainyard, a clever new puzzle game from Matt Rix, is now available from the app store. With its wealth of levels and increasingly more difficult level design, Trainyard is as much about color mixing and perfect timing as it is about finding the goal within the seemingly limited confines of the grid.
- Clever puzzles
- Varied game mechanics allow for creativity
- No pressure gameplay
- Lack of responsiveness in controls
- Tutorial dumbs down the game too much
Trainyard tasks the player with laying tracks from the outpost (indicated by a colored plus sign) to the goal (a colored circle) in order to deliver colored trains safely. To do this, you simply trace your finger from one to the other, which lays tracks as you go. The game holds your hand through tutorial after tutorial, teaching the finer points of the game and following up with example levels that let you practice what you’ve learned. In the beginning, the grid is wide open, with only an outpost and a matching-colored goal, which requires a simple straight path to complete. After completing a few examples, you’ll move on to drawing corners, avoiding rocks, fixing errors, switching tracks, merging trains, mixing colors, and more, with multiple examples to boot. Switching tracks becomes a key component of later puzzles, as you’ll discover that each square can hold up to two track pieces of differing directions, allowing for multiple routes along the same locations, which opens up a ton of possibilities for acceptable track designs. Color management also becomes crucial, as outposts and goals will differ in colors. This requires trains to merge and create new colors or pass through each other, maintaining their separateness while still changing colors. The positioning of goals and rocks dictates where some pieces must be laid, but there is a great deal of creativity to be exercised by the user. Most puzzles have multiple solutions. Without timers or scores, you are free to take your time and arrive at any solution you like.
Some outposts will contain multiple trains, of matching or varying colors. This brings into play the element of timing, as you’ll need to lay tracks in a way that avoids crashes while still delivering the correct trains to the proper goals. Goals with only a single circle require that only one train enters, which means merging will need to take place. Goals with multiple circles can accept multiple trains. It is important to note that only primary colors can be mixed. Any combinations using secondary colors will result in brown trains that are not accepted anywhere. To complete the level, you must deliver the correct amount of trains to the correct goals. When a goal is completed, a checkmark will be placed on that station. A fully completed level will earn a certain number of starts, which will unlock other levels or cities, which encompass level groupings.
Graphically, the game is very simplistic, displaying a simple grid over a black background. The only bursts of color come in the form of outposts, goals, and trains. The level name and star count reside above, while buttons for erasing tracks, undoing moves, starting the trains, and speeding up their progress are on the screen bottom. The animations are smooth and fun to watch. There is no soundtrack, but there are sound effects for things like merging and completing a level. Other than shaking to reset the level, the controls are all touch-based. You drag your finger to lay tracks, tap buttons to test the level, and double-tap on squares with multiple track pieces to alter the active track. We found the tracks to be somewhat unresponsive at times, leading to some frustration as we drew and redrew track pieces. Other than this drawback, the only other complaint we had was that the game is too simplistic for too long, repeating levels that exemplify the most basic functions too many times before the difficulty ramps up. We were more than halfway through the game before we really ran into a head-scratcher.
Replay value is low. Despite the ability to arrive at multiple solutions, the lack of scoring, timers, or achievements leaves little to entice the player to come back once the game is completed. Solutions can be shared on Facebook or Twitter, as well as shared on Trainyard.ca. At $1.99, you’ll get your value out of this 4-Dimple offering.
Trainyard for iPhone: All Aboard To Ride The Puzzle Rails,