Game: Train Life: A Railway Simulator
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam, (Windows), PS4 & PS5, Xbox One & Xbox Series X
Developers | Publishers: Simteract | Nacon
Age Rating: US E | EU 3+
Price: US $29.99 | UK £26.99 | EU € 29,99
Release Date: (EU) March 9th, 2023 (US) March 28th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Dead Good Media.
Train Life – A Railway Simulator is the latest release from Polish devs Simteract, published by Nacon. It has been out on PC for a while and will now arrive at the station on consoles.
The train is Leaving Platform One
There are many simulator games that range from flight simulators to things such as Power Wash Simulator. As the title suggests, Train Life puts you in charge of your delivery company while traversing the land on your train. You’ll drive your passengers or goods across ten countries and explore Europe and the UK’s countryside, towns, forests and mountains from your train cab, with weather effects and day/night cycles. There are also incidents on the track you have to avoid, such as animals and fallen trees.
In a nutshell, that’s the theory of Train Life: A Railway Simulator, but believe me, you would not want me as your train driver but more on that in a minute!
Train Life focuses much more on the management and running of the railways. As a result, it’s a more casual affair in terms of gameplay, but I don’t think that is a bad thing at all.
While it still requires some button pushing, the engine operation is much more forgiving and casual, unlike other Train Simulators that are very realistic. It sometimes feels a bit arcadey, though the way the game works with a controller on the Switch feels very good.
The career mode is the most sensible place to start with Train Life: A Railway Simulator, as it gives you an overall feel for the game and allows you to go through the tutorials.
The tutorial covers everything from driving the train, hooking up carriages, taking delivery orders, and hiring staff. It also explains the signs on the track and the train’s braking system.
After you finish the tutorial, you can take on different jobs from companies to upgrade your train company. You earn money while transporting passengers and cargo and mail, and it is spent on the upkeep of the train. Most of your contracts involve transporting people or cargo on time and safely.
Getting your train to arrive on schedule after travelling a long route with multiple stops can be fun but challenging. In addition, you must be careful during the train journey not to speed or derail the train, so you can’t fly down the track at high speeds.
You can also stop to fuel the train and pay for any repairs caused by things such as pulling the emergency brake for last-minute stops. Furthermore, you can buy new trains for your company, such as the ICE 3, ICE 4 and NEWAG Griffin.
Train Life: A Railway Simulator lets you control the train from two perspectives. You can have a view outside the train where you can turn the camera around and see the other carts attached to your train. In addition, you can also change the camera view so you are inside the train cab to drive.
When the camera view is inside the cab, you can control the train by pressing the buttons on the train’s control panel, making it much more life-like for driving the train. I preferred the outside camera view as I get motion sickness from the first-person camera view, plus you get to watch your train moving along the track from the outside camera and who doesn’t like that?
Mind Your Speed
Controls on the Nintendo Switch are easy to grasp, for the most part, though I struggled with the brakes. For instance, you use the ZR button to increase speed, and the ZL button decreases speed. In contrast, the L and R shoulder buttons are used for braking in +10% increments and -10% increments, and the A button is the emergency brake.
It wasn’t the game’s fault that I struggled with the brakes. When I started playing the game, the braking system wouldn’t sink into my brain. However, it gave me lots of laughs and chuckles while playing Train Life, as my train was either going too fast, too slow, hardly moving, or going in the wrong direction. Ultimately, it clicked into place, and my brain caught up, and my train soon rolled along the tracks at the correct speed….mostly!
While the game reasonably renders the varied landscapes and the countryside as you travel, you won’t notice too many small details at speed. However, when the train is stopped, you will notice that the cars, people and buildings are relatively unconvincing in their appearance.
On the Nintendo Switch, the control system works as it should, and I didn’t notice any frame rate problems as the game ran. However, unfortunately, it did crash a couple of times, kicking me out to the menu screen, which broke my immersion in the gameplay when it happened.
Train Life: A Railway Simulator is a welcome addition to the Nintendo Switch library and a great alternative to mainstream railway sims that Switch players cannot access without a PC. This is definitely a fun game for those looking to get into the genre, but it is also good for those with a lot of experience. It’s also kind of addictive to transport mail and passengers to and fro.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot