App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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The banality of everyday commuter life is not something that you'd think would make for a particularly great video game, but Dinosaur Polo Club's Mini Metro begs to differ. Using the visual aesthetics of a subway map, Mini Metro is a beautifully minimalistic puzzle game about resolving transportation issues.
If you've ever seen a subway map, Mini Metro looks pretty familiar. On every play session of the game, you see a stark white map with simple geometric markers (read: stops) dotted across it, and it's your job to draw colored lines (read: subway lines) to connect these shapes in a way that makes all of them relatively easy to move between.
Unlike your standard subway map, there's a dynamism to Mini Metro's landscape that makes it both easier and harder to play. Trains will illustrate their movement along lines and indicators of desired destinations appear on the sides of stops to help you see how efficient your infrastructure is, but new stations will also pop up and new pieces of infrastructure will be offered to you, forcing you to readjust your strategy as you move forward.
In Mini Metro, you lose if any one of your stations gets overcrowded, so you'll occasionally want to make tweaks to your system as things change. Luckily, you can tap and drag to modify any lines you've drawn to the point that you can completely redraw any route whenever you want. Mini Metro will simply play out the final trip of your train and then reset along your newly drawn route.
As things get more complicated, it may feel overwhelming to try and redraw while things are in motion. Luckily, there is a little clock icon at the top right-hand of the screen that reveals a pause button (and a fast-forward button) if you tap it.
If the idea of simply re-drawing everything seems a little too easy, you can also try out Mini Metro's Extreme Mode which makes all of your established subway lines permanent.
Speaking of modes, Mini Metro also sports a nice Daily Challenge for players to compete to see who can deliver the most passengers on a pre-set map, as well as 13 map bases that are all based on real cities like New York and Cairo.
Even when Mini Metro is at its most hectic, it's still a pretty calming experience. It's minimal aesthetic and soothing, ambient soundtrack are primarily responsible for this, as well as the ability to pause the action whenever you like.
This zen-like pace is also a problem for Mini Metro. Every play session has a pretty long buildup before getting challenging. The fast forward button can help alleviate this somewhat, but doesn't solve the slow build problem of the game.
The bottom line
Mini Metro is a beautiful and fun puzzle game that's also a slow burn. If you have the time and patience for it, climb aboard. Otherwise, maybe wait for the next train.