Railway Empire is the latest title by Kalypso Media ready to take a slice of the simulation pie, known for various other sims such as Tropico, Dungeons and Port Royale, can Railway Empire fill the gap for locomotive simulation left by Railway Tycoon and bulk out that hefty portfolio more? Read on to find out!.
Originally Railway Empire launched in 2018 on the Playstation 4, X Box One and Steam, it has now recently been released on the Hybrid that can the Nintendo Switch. Railway Empire is set between 1830 and 1930 and has an extensive campaign mode which not only teaches you the ropes with a rather in depth tutorial but also tells a rather fun yarn about the birth of the Railway Empire!!.
Graphically Railway Empire is quite a little beauty to look at on the Nintendo Switch, when you zoom in to watch your trains it’s quite the spectacle, if you’re into that kind of thing and hell even if you aren’t it’s always good to see the fruits of your hard work thundering down the line!.
The initial world map does look kind of barren but as this is a strategy/simulation game you’re not exactly going to be that distracted by the lack of in depth visual fidelity which you’re planning your railway. Regardless the visuals in that aspect more than work for the game and I never found myself thinking anything look particularly bad.
Performance wise the game is pretty faultless, the zoom to look at trains works fast and is quite smooth, I did notice the slightest bit of lag here and there while moving across the world map fast but other than that the game felt buttery smooth and especially in handheld mode where I was worried it would suffer the most.
At times I felt the text was a little small in the title, funnily enough this once again seemed to affect the game more docked than it did on handheld. Sadly there isn’t an option to adjust the text size in the option menu as of today but I don’t see why it couldn’t be added in with a patch in the future. It’s not the worse case of micro text on the Switch but I did struggle to read it at points.
To help this title turn heads with it already releasing on other platforms, Kalypso have also bundled 3 DLC packs into the game Mexico, The Great Lakes and Crossing the Andes, these packs offer even more content than that of the base game, extra options in free mode, new engines and even scenarios to play out. Which there is paid DLC following this title there is more than enough here to keep you going for hours upon hours even before you jump into the extras on the eshop!.
So with all this content you have to ask, is it worth investing in?, well that depends on how you feel about both Trains and Strategy Simulation games but I would honestly say this is one of the best Simulation games you can buy on the Nintendo Switch.
First off I would like to say that the controls as expected can be a little finicky and unintuitive at times. The tutorials tend to stay on the map and require you to manually delete them before you can progress and depending on how familiar you are with games like Railway Empire it may require additional reading or runs through the tutorial before you are truely comfortable with the games many systems and micro management. Fortunately you are able to switch between a Simple & Realistic mode in regards to how many trains you have on a track and how they interact, this eases alot of early headaches for people who aren’t quite a locomotively minded and instead want to run it more as a business.
Naturally having a railway company comes with its own issues, how do you afford to run it, what if your trains break down, what are your competitors up to & how do you dominate the “Railway Empire” without landing yourself in bankruptcy. Using your railway you can transport passengers and materials/food between towns, help them develop, invest in them and use various rail routes to really maximize your profile for each train running the route. Over time you can research new engines, trains, hire better staff and over time really develop your various rail routes.
Of course you have other railway companies who want a slice of the pie and they will do everything to get it, be it under cut you on fares, send spies to copy your research or even sabotage your trains and railway lines. There is also the terrain to factor in aswell as train maintenance along the journey.
There is a whole load of strategy in Railway Empire and at first it can seem rather overwhelming, fortunately by the end of the campaign you should have a firm grasp of what do you and be a Railway Empire pro by the time you’ve knocked out all of the scenario modes in which then it’ll be time to pick up free mode.
While the controls fought me at times and i got lost alot in the menus to start with, when I finally found my feet with Railway Empire I couldn’t put it down. The handheld gameplay of the Switch is ideal for this title and means you’ll be even more obsessed with micro managing every aspect of your railway. I didn’t play much of it Docked due to having an easier time with text in Handheld mode but even that was a bit of a struggle at times. I haven’t been as hooked on a simulation game in years and the tonnes and tonnes of content to start with means I’ll be playing this title long after this review.
While it’s a rather niche title, it’s fantastic to see titles like this on the Nintendo Switch and I would love to see it supported further and possibly a sequel down the line. If you love a good Sim game I would implore you to grab your hat and remember the years you used to love Thomas the Tank Engine or spent it playing Railway Tycoon in the dark!.
A fantastic simulation for Switch fans
While controls hinder the product slightly, the quality of the content shines through essential and provides Switch owners with one of the most entertaining and addictive Sim titles to date!.