Mini Motorways is a brand new traffic sim game from Dinosaur Polo Club. DPC previously brought us Mini Metro, a similar game about underground train management.
I think it’s fair to say that traffic is rarely something one would associate with relaxation. Quite the opposite, in fact. Traffic is stressful, dirty, loud, and infuriating. Mini Motorways, on the other hand, is delightfully the opposite of all of those things. It’s relaxing, über-clean aesthetically, understated, and calming. It is, in fact, ironically, the perfect game to play to wind down after a stressful commute.
Mini Motorways, Mini Roundabouts, Mini Traffic Lights… Mini Management!
The basic premise of Mini Motorways couldn’t be simpler. There are two kinds of buildings – houses, where cars start, and destinations, where they must reach. These destinations spawn pins – like GPS pins – and once the cars reach the pins, they disappear. It’s up to the player to draw lines of roads connecting those two. Sounds simple, right? And it is! But, like a lot of simple things, it gets more complex the more of it you have.
Every intersection is an obstacle, slowing down traffic. Periodically, the game drops new houses and destinations on the map for you to juggle. Every in-game week, you get more road tiles to place – they’re finite! – and a choice of upgrades, ranging from roundabouts to traffics lights to the eponymous motorways. They’re finite, too. I had great fun trying to optimise my routes. I can’t overstate how satisfying it is to seamlessly integrate new houses and destinations into the network.
Eventually, it becomes impossible to collect all the pins. Too many pins, not enough cars, too much traffic to collect them in time – and then you lose. But losing doesn’t feel bad. It feels… Inevitable, and satisfying in its own way. As a player, your success is measured in the number of journeys completed, and you get to see where you place against other players on a leaderboard. The whole thing is super simple and very digestible in small increments. You sit down – play with traffic for half an hour or so – then you’re done. In an age where so many games demand dozens of hours of your time, Mini Motorways feels refreshingly brief and bite-sized.
Red, Amber & Green Have Nothing on Mini Motorways‘ Pastel Aesthetics
If you played Mini Metro, Mini Motorways‘ art style will feel familiar to it. It’s bright, clean, minimal and colourful – without being noisy. There are no extraneous details. Every line and colour has its own unique purpose. Each map has its own subtly different colour scheme – from Tokyo’s sakura pinks, to Dubai’s desert brown’s to Zurich’s Swiss red. DPC’s artists have done very well to make such minimal changes feel distinct and refreshing.
What’s particularly striking, however, is the audio design. The music is vibrant, modern and minimal. Each new tile placed or removed makes a satisfying pop. Completed journeys let out a bing, blending seamlessly into the soundtrack to make a symphony celebrating your city’s efficiency.
Accessibility! Easy to Ignore, Wonderful to See
I think it’s worth mentioning that Mini Motorways, despite its simplicity, has top-notch accessibility options. There’s a colourblind mode – crucial, as the gameplay is explicitly colour-coded. It has a night mode to save your eyes from strain. The menus have a delightful dynamic transition animation – but for those few for whom that might be overwhelming or difficult to watch, there’s a simple check-box to turn them off. Nobody made Dinosaur Polo Club make their game so accessible, and 99% of players wouldn’t notice if they didn’t. But they did, and that’s worthy of praise.
Mini Motorways is easy to learn, hard to master. It’s simple, pretty, clean, and the attention to detail is very high. It certainly won’t be for everybody, but if drawing efficient routes on minimal maps of world cities is your thing – then you should check it out.
Now available on Apple Arcade and Steam, coming soon to Switch. Sadly, due to contract restrictions, it looks like Android users won’t get to play at any point.