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Train Fever (PC) Review

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TrainFever Logo
TrainFever Logo

At a Glance...

Formats: PC
Final Score
7/ 10

User Rating
no ratings yet


We liked?

  • Absorbing transport simulator that's rewarding if you're prepared to put the time in

Not so much?

  • -Game currently feels unfinished
  • Steep learning curve and unforgiving interface will put off a lot of people

Final Fiendish Findings?

The year is 1850. You are about to embark on building a transport empire that will provide train, bus and tram travel to the masses. Can you turn that three million dollar loan from the bank into a profitable company that will endure through the decades? With longstranding popular titles like Railroad Tycoon readily available, […]

Posted October 1, 2014 by

Full Fiendish Findings...

The year is 1850. You are about to embark on building a transport empire that will provide train, bus and tram travel to the masses. Can you turn that three million dollar loan from the bank into a profitable company that will endure through the decades?

Trainfever screen_01_12With longstranding popular titles like Railroad Tycoon readily available, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that all your transport simulation needs were already well catered for. Nonetheless, it seems like the market has room for one more game, as Train Fever makes its debut on PC. Despite some early bugs that made it almost unplayable for many, a few weeks’ worth of developer patching have seen a fairly decent game emerge.

Rather than being set on a real continent, Train Fever starts you off by generating a random world populated by small unconnected cities. You start off in the year 1850 (play for long enough and you’ll eventually be able to start new games in 1900 or 1950) with a 3 million dollar loan from the bank and two basic tutorials on how to set up bus and train lines. After that, you’re left on your own to lay rail tracks, purchase steam trains and carts, and start ferrying passengers and even cargo around your world.

Even in the smallest of world sizes, this means there’s a lot to do, and it’s easy to get put off early on. Until you go on the internet and find guides written by other players, it’s not clear what you can and should be doing, and it’s all too easy to blow all your money making hugely unprofitable transport systems that just seem to plunge you deeper and deeper into debt. It wouldn’t be a surprise if, at this point, you decided to just give the game up as a bad job entirely.

Trainfever screen_2048_00


With a little patience, however, Train Fever actually becomes quite enjoyable. Just as you despair of ever making money, you’ll find your bus and train lines start becoming profitable, and from then on, the game becomes a lot more enjoyable. Of course, there will still be years when you lose money, and there’s the matter of that three million dollars that you have to repay at some point, but it starts to feel like progress is being made. You can begin ambitious plans to connect all your cities with rail lines, ferry cargo between industries, or just make sure that the intra-city buses are providing a top notch service. And, as the years pass, your cities will expand and more modern vehicles will become available, so there’s always work to be done on upgrading your ageing fleet.

Unfortunately, even at its best, Train Fever still feels a bit like an unfinished product. There’s a lot to do, but no way to really get the hang of the game without costly trial and error. There’s no sandbox mode where you can just play around without cost, and beginner players would probably appreciate a lot more hand-holding than the two basic tutorials they get at the beginning. Trains are obviously a big part of this game, but laying track is tricky and potentially expensive – the track laying algorithm has been designed to be physically plausible and thus disallows steep slopes and tight curves, but this can make laying and joining up track in all but the flattest of terrain very difficult and even frustrating. It would be nice if the track laying was a bit smarter – finding you can’t join up the tracks, or that your amateur efforts have utterly messed up the landscape and bankrupted your company are nothing short of frustrating.

There’s not even an undo functionality, which means that every misplaced train station or piece of track is a hit on your bank balance – especially as demolishing them also costs money. It’s not even possible to upgrade stations – if you want to add extra platforms, for example, you have to demolish your existing station and build a brand new one in its place. It’s possible that updates and mods in the future will take care of these issues, but for now they all serve to make the game that much less fun that it ought to be.


Visually, Train Fever certainly looks very nice, with the option for high resolution graphics that display attractive cities and landscapes at various scales. This does come at a price – the initial world generation and even loading of a saved game are pretty slow, and many players have reported framerate issues – even on a gaming machine you’ll likely find the game doesn’t always run smoothly. As well as all the expected sound effects, gameplay is accompanied by an album’s worth of energetic electronica, which isn’t bad to listen to but does feel a little out of place when you’re supposed to be starting out in the mid 19th century. Of course, it’s easy enough to turn off this music if it’s not to your tastes.


Final Thoughts

Train Fever is a bit of a rough diamond – there’s rewarding gameplay to be had, but it requires looking past the interface issues and the steep learning curve, and just immersing yourself in the game for a few hours to get a profitable transport empire established. Hopefully, future patches and mods will put this game on a more solid footing, but for now it’s a decent if unpolished title.