Trainyard is a fun, challenging and beautifully designed puzzle game. The essence of its gameplay is to get the trains to their desired destinations by creating tracks from their starting point to the goal station. While you begin with simple journeys of single-coloured units, it gets trickier and involves multiple stations, multiple coloured trains and obstacles to navigate. It becomes a game all about strategy, logic and perfect timing, all with gorgeously silky graphics across plenty of challenging levels.
If you like your puzzle games visual and logic-based, or if you just like trains(!), Trainyard has a lot to offer you.
OK, so Trainyard isn’t any kind of simulation you’re going to get residual train-spotting kicks from. You can’t identify locomotives and you do not get to pretend you’re wearing a uniform. For something like that, try Trainz Simulator which comes with it’s own binoculars and flask of coffee… (not really).
Rather, Trainyard is more about puzzle solving and logic. You begin with a basic Outlet station (where the trains come from) and a Goal station (where they have to go to) and must simply draw a line of track with your finger from one to another. Initially you start with green trains, but more colours get added as you progress and you have to ensure the right colour train goes to the correct Goal station each time. As the game goes on you have to ‘blend’ trains by colliding them. So, for example collide a red train with a blue one and you’ll get a purple one and so forth.
Additional controls allow you to cross tracks, which requires red-hot timing especially if you need your trains to remain separate and not collide or crash. With the introduction of obstacles and challenging starting positions, the game demands a logical and very methodical approach in order to proceed to the next levels.
Timing becomes imperative
The graphics in Trainyard are utterly perfect for the puzzle genre in my opinion. You have a dark blue/green background with brighter lettering mixed with glowing icons and motifs. While there’s this old-school feel to the graphics, they’re brilliantly detailed. There are small effects that take place when a train reaches a station and when trains collide and create new colours. It’s intricately designed to look very slick indeed.
Red and yellow trains will make an orange one
Oddly, the design reminded me a little of the beautiful alarm app doubleTwist Clock Alarm. If you can, check out the screenshots of each to see what I mean — totally different kinds of apps, but they share a polished feel and rich visual elements. With the action involved in Trainyard, it goes further with these cool neon flourishes that really stand out against the dark background. The graphical effect is quite understated, but look closer and it’s really impressive.
The sound effects are very subtle, certainly more fitting with a puzzle game than a train game, and there are no steam noises to be found! The game uses cool clicks when tracks change, and ‘ting’ sounds when trains reach their destination successfully. Further, there are crash sounds when your trains enter stations if they are the wrong colour. Lastly, there are small noises when moving around the game and when laying tracks.
Like all well-made puzzle games, Trainyard has a very strong appeal. The early levels are relatively simple and the game allows you to build confidence and understand the different gameplay elements such as blending and switching. However, stages get progressively complex to the point where you need to really think solutions through.
Obstacles make some levels more challenging than others
I think part of the gameplay can come down to some trial and error, but, before you know it, you’re hooked. Trainyard really does have that ‘one more level’ factor that keeps you playing and coming back for more. It’s extremely rewarding when you solve a tricky level, so you are perpetually motivated to try the next one.
Like I have mentioned, Trainyard bears little or no similarity to games like Trainz Simulator. This is more of a puzzle game that requires logic and good timing. For comparisons, you could actually consider Trainyard as a blend of SpaceChem, where you apply changes to units before they reach a destination, and Train Conductor 2: USA, where you have to carefully control trains as they cross the screen. Neither of these are the same as Trainyard but gameplay might feel a little familiar if you’ve encountered them before.
Trainyard has built up a great deal of popularity both on Android and iOS. For instance, the full version of the game in the Google Play Store has over 10,000 downloads and more than 700 unique ratings with an average score of 4.9/5 which, by all accounts, makes it one of the most popular puzzle games available.
Subsequently, there is quite an online community behind the game and many solutions to all the levels. It discusses known issues and further provides the opportunity to send feedback to the developers. The website, found here, is highly interactive and you can even watch the levels being solved. While this might take some of the fun away for many players, if you’re really stuck it feels like a life-saver!
Trainyard is one of the most perfect puzzle games available on the Android platform. The graphics are beautiful, the sounds are well done and the gameplay is addictive and very challenging. It is a paid game, but you can easily try out the free version, called Trainyard Express, to get a feel of the experience before committing to the full game.
While puzzlers are not for everyone, if you like having your logic tested, Trainyard is just sublime and I would recommend it to anyone.