Gaming Editor Louis Wright reviews Station to Station finding it to be endearing and accessible
Station to Station was received for free for review purposes
Rarely does a game as peaceful and immersive as Station to Station come around. Every element of the game is designed to interact and work in tandem to provide a calming puzzle experience to the player. The lack of intensity and stress, as well as the sheer joy the game provides, is a fantastic culmination of clear planning.
Several Maglev-els Of Gameplay
Station to Station is fundamentally a puzzle game first and foremost. Every element of the game’s design relates back to finding the most efficient and cost effective rail lines from station to station. By building resource management (money available being the most pertinent) into the way the player approaches their problem solving, Station to Station diversifies and raises the difficulty of the challenge that it poses.
For a game that does pose a significant challenge at times, however, Station to Station remains relaxing and calming throughout. The gameplay is low stakes, with no time limits, allowing the player to methodically plan their actions and routes for their train lines. While there is an inability to undo and demolish established train lines, there is no punishment for restarting the level to have another attempt.
And this is what makes Station to Station so appealing. Its levels, presented in bite size chunks that are easy to digest and work your way through, effectively act as small hits of serotonin. Connecting the various buildings, towns, and cities together in a unique way, while remaining within the constraints laid out by the game is a peaceful experience that is rarely found in its contemporaries of the puzzle genre.
Interjector Some Variation
While Station to Station is very simplistic in its core gameplay loop, the way that the game builds and expands on this central concept diversifies and refreshes the concept enough to hold player engagement. This is a necessity that integrates itself well as without the inclusion of variation the game would quickly become stale and repetitive.
The main form of variation are the different worlds that the player is taken to throughout the course of gameplay. From the humble plains, to the mighty mesa, and rocky cliff sides, the way the world is built and formed is different every time. This keeps the worlds the player is building their railways in new and fresh, with the different ways the terrain is formed providing a need to change the approach to problem solving.
More subtle in the variation it applies are the star challenges that are featured in every level. Star challenges are a voluntary requirement that the player may consider when building their railways, being rewarded with a star and achievement when completed. These limit the money the player can use or require a railway to be a specific length to name specific examples, which when engaged with, provide a greater depth to gameplay.
Cards as well are introduced late into the first world. Acting as Station to Station’s power-ups effectively, cards allow for certain rail pieces like bridges to be brought for a lower cost. By providing a player with a card, in tandem with certain star challenges, their solutions become more varied and open ended. This encourages the player to engage in behaviour building their railways they normally would not otherwise, allowing experimentation.
Variation within Station to Station is effective at building upon its core gameplay. However, for the game to not become redundant, repetitive, or stale in longer play sessions, this variation has to be engaged with in some form. Star challenges are fundamentally a good concept within the game, but if the player wants their experience with Station to Station to have real depth, they must be followed.
Graphics to Whistle About
Station to Station is a voxel based game. Building the game’s models out of small cubes pieced together gives it a rough look that could easily fall into the realm of being basic. However, the care that has been given into giving details to the environments, animals, trains, stations, buildings, and more the game features, whether that be with varying voxel density or unique texturing gives the game a unique look that is clearly cared for.
The flat surfaces the game features throughout could also allow it to fall into this category of looking uncared for. When done improperly, flat surfaces can make areas of a game look unfinished or distracting to the eye, particularly if the player struggles to define what they represent. Station to Station alleviates this issue in one distinct way, that being its lighting engine.
Lighting is used judiciously throughout Station to Station to provide depth and life to the world. It is a fair assessment to say that without such effective lighting, the game would not have the same visual appeal that it currently holds. Between its use of lighting and voxel modelling the game is unique aesthetically.
Sound on the Tender Side
Leaning into the relaxing nature of the gameplay, Station to Station follows a similar theme with its sound design. The game’s soundtrack is slow, pensive, and deeply encouraging in regards to the puzzle elements of the game. It gives the player an opportunity to reflect on the nature of the puzzle in front of them, and how they will approach it.
Likewise the sound effects interwoven into the player’s actions are concise and effective. They give weight to the player’s action and make them feel more impactful on the world, in turn granting a feeling of greater control. The immersive nature of the sound design helps make Station to Station easy to connect to on a more intimate level.
Station to Station is a game that is remarkably easy to pick up and enjoy, no matter what walk of life the player is from. For its relaxing nature, simple gameplay with readily available depth, and distinctive presentation it is a game that can be strongly recommended.
Station to Station is available on Steam
Read more gaming reviews here: