Trainyard is a very unique puzzler where the aim of the game is to guide trains by building tracks from entry points – outlet stations that can hold multiple trains represented by crosses – to their destination points – goal stations represented by circles – as they have to turn and twist their way through obstacles in their path.
There are usually multiple of these entry and exit points on each level with their own train that are color coded accordingly – some stations can have multiple trains going or arriving. The trains can pass or go underneath each one’s track but they will also crash if they meet on the same tile and each tile can hold two directions.
‘Start the trains’ input will unleash all the trains onto the tracks at once as they try to reach their destination simultaneously. Sometimes it is necessary to change tracks with the touch or swipe of the finger and slow the game down with a slider icon manually so trains don’t crash while crossing tiles. Also trains can merge on some levels and reach one goal.
One gripe I have with the game is the menu is a little disorienting as there are a few options to weed through and figure out before playing matches with a busy screen. There are cities in the game that players can unlock via stars and each city has its own tracks or levels to complete. There is no ‘start’ input, common in most games, but players have to input ‘start new solution’ to start each level. Also, being able to erase parts of tracks already created at any time eases frustration but at the same time prevents too much forethought required of some puzzlers that may or may not appeal to gamers looking for a challenge.
Another small issue is despite having overall great controls, sometimes fingers can get in the way of the view of the track when doing twists or loops with the track. And a landscape mode would be nice as well.
Players can skip the level they are stuck on to a level ahead of the one they are currently playing but further levels have to be unlocked by successful completing the previous puzzles. There is also a tutorial showing concepts of the game for new players.
Matt Rix, the creator of Trainyard details his humble beginnings on his blog with his story of creating the game and the success the title has been generating as he explains how he came up with the idea for the puzzler on a train. Rix’s story shows how great games don’t always need large development teams or a huge budget – but a great idea that can be implemented in an app can make all the difference.
I highly recommend Trainyard as it is one or the best puzzlers I played on the App store to date. The game is simple to pick up but has a lot of depth and challenge as well. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Small improvements like landscape mode would make it a 5 star game.