Xbox One, PS4, PC
August 7, 2020
Gaming Minds Studios
Railway Empire: Complete Collection is a transport management simulation game developed by Gaming Minds Studios and published by Kalypso Media. Originally released in early 2018, the game centers on building, managing, and expanding your own railway empire. With the 2020 complete edition, Kalypso has bundled the base game with every item of Railway Empire DLC as well as the soundtrack, giving fans the fan the opportunity to buy the lot for a reasonable price. The game offers players a campaign mode, a sandbox mode, scenarios set on different continents, challenges, and a free mode. There’s also an editor feature, allowing you to create your own scenarios and share them with others.
The premise of Railway Empire is relatively straightforward: as the manager of a railway company in nineteenth-century USA, the game’s main story campaign gives you twenty years to expand your transport network, outplay your competitors, and make a name for yourself. Throughout different campaigns you’ll discover different areas of the United States and the challenges their respective geographies pose to building a railway line.
Railway Empire does a great job of drawing you into the complexities of managing a transport network without boring you with too many details. When you first boot up the game, the tutorial will give you an overview of the basics: building stations and tracks, adding signal posts and maintenance buildings, and connecting towns and buying locomotives. At first, you’ll mostly be doing just that: building your railway tracks and expanding the reach of your network. Along the way you can set up different train lines, which will allow you to transport passengers, mail, and goods.
While I was expecting the building part of the game to be easy and straightforward, it took a lot longer than I expected to wrap my head around things; setting up parallel tracks and connected routes with a limited amount of money will have you juggling parallel way tracks, multiple platforms, and different train lines, and you’ll need to find a balance to make everything fit together well.
At times, I wasn’t be able to connect stations to tracks for some reason and the game didn’t really indicate why, even in the tutorial. As a result, I mostly figured out the building aspect on the fly and through a lot of trial and error. This was unfortunate, as doing this significantly slows you down in a campaign. In order to prevent collisions and to create the quickest routes possible, you’ll need to be strategic about your track placement – more strategic than you might initially think.
Once I was across the basics, I had to do a few campaigns multiple times before my railway network stopped looking like bowl of spaghetti and started resembling a streamlined and efficient grid. It’s incredibly rewarding to see your train passing along the railway lines once everything’s set up correctly. The game also gives you the option to switch to the perspective of a train’s conductor, allowing players to experience their railroads up close. I thought this was a great addition to really allow players to savour the result of their railway designs.
“Railway Empire does a great job of drawing you into the complexities of managing a transport network without boring you with too many details.”
On top of creating efficient train routes, you’ll have to set up your transport network in such a way that every town along the tracks is supplied with the resources they need to grow. To do this successfully, you’ll need to make sure the right goods can be picked up along the way to a specific town. Once towns’ and cities’ demand for certain supplies is met, their population increases, and you can improve a city’s industry further and trade more goods.
There’s plenty to keep track of in the first few Railway Empire campaigns. However, the level of difficulty didn’t feel overwhelming; instead it offered an impressive amount of depth while keeping things entertaining. Combined with the soothing soundtrack and the beautiful realistic graphics, I found the first few campaigns to be among the most enjoyable.
Once you advance to later campaigns, however, the difficulty ramps up dramatically and things go from relaxing to frustrating mighty quickly. The main reason for this is the introduction of competing railway companies controlled by the game’s AI. No matter how quickly you lay down your tracks and connect stations, your AI opponents seem to be hitting the same targets five times faster. This took a lot of the enjoyment out of the game for me, instead making it an adrenalising and frustrating experience. Because of this, I found myself opting for the sandbox or the free mode rather than the campaigns, just to change up the pace. Free mode allows you to adjust a game’s difficulty and maximum number of AI opponents; it was a welcome change to play the game with my preferred settings instead of doing tiring campaigns.
That said, if you enjoy this kind of relentless challenge, Railway Empire: Complete Edition will have plenty of content for you to get through. Aside from its base campaign, the complete collection also includes scenarios and challenges set in Australia, Europe, and South America, which all come with different stories and environmental challenges. Through its different modes, as well as the sheer volume of content included in the game, Railway Empire: Complete Edition caters to a range of different playstyles. Fans of railway sims are sure to find something to their liking.
- Hours of gameplay and great replayability value
- Beautiful realistic graphics
- Engrossing soundtrack
- Caters to a range of different playstyles
- Takes a while to crack
- AI has unreasonable advantages
Fans of titles like Railroad Tycoon and Sid Meier’s Railroads will find plenty to keep them busy in Railway Empire: Complete Edition. While the game takes a while to crack and the AI’s behaviour can be frustrating, this title offers plenty of engrossing content to cater to different kinds of players. If you’re looking for a simulation game to sink hours and hours into, Railway Empire: Complete Edition will be a great fit for your library.