Even to this day, I find myself installing OpenTTD at least everyone half a year once. For those who don’t know, OpenTTD is a free, open-source remake for the classic Transport Tycoon Deluxe. It not only does everything that Transport Tycoon Delux do but also expands on the mechanics and possibilities. You can only imagine my excitement when I first saw the screenshots of Mashinky. It looked exactly like the next OpenTTD, except in 3D.
The game released into the Steam Early Access program in 2018. It’s been quite some time since then, and the original vision was a 2020 release date. It’s 2021 now, and the game is still in Early Access. However, it has undergone serious improvements and advancements. I remember first playing it was exciting, but I quickly got annoyed by the small bugs and unbaked features. This is no longer the case today, as the game is nearing its release, it’s getting more and more complete.
In Mashinky, you take care of a transportation empire. You can build train lines and truck depots to transport goods. As you go through the ages, the available equipment will get better and you will have to keep expanding to keep up with the game.
Interestingly enough, the developer at Mashinky decided to innovate when it comes to the resource system. Most of these transportation games only have one resource: money. Here, money is only a small part of the equations. You can use your hard-earned cash, to purchase the ‘basic’ version of everything.
An Ingame Economy Revised
If you want to really expand, you will need to upgrade your fleet. This means more goods transported, and a better income in the end. How do you achieve it? Well, in Mashinky, you have a ton of other resources than money. For example, there are ‘logs’. You get logs by transporting wood from the forest to the sawmill. Or refined oil, where you will have to make a supply chain into the oil refinery to get the end product: a barrel of oil.
This might seem familiar from games like OpenTTD, however, in other titles you only have money. This means, for example, you can play OpenTTD as a pure passenger operation. I always liked to do this. Just use passenger trains and vehicles without care for industries. Here in Mashinky, you must supply the industries. It’s a requirement to advance the ERA and to buy better great. Really love this system, which ‘forces’ you to utilize the map fully, without really feeling like you are forced to do anything.
You will want to supply the industries yourself, to have access to the best great. For example, a basic diesel locomotive might cost 100 cash tokens in the game. Now you can do just fine with this loco. However, you might want something that’s quicker, or can pull more. You will have options for better locomotives for a combination of resources. For example, you can get a better performing train for 100 cash tokens + 25 oil barrels. That’s how the amazing new economy in the game works.
A Familiar Way of Laying Down Tracks
I think one of the best features of the game is the builder view. The gameplay is in 3D, with reasonable graphics. However, as soon as you turn on building mode, you will go into a stylized 2D isometric view of the area. It literally feels like building in OpenTTD, except easier and quicker. I think it’s a great selling point and anyone familiar with other titles in the genre will feel right at home from the first second.
One more thing I love is the ability to extend your stations, depots and even industries. You have an upgrade option for almost anything. Let’s say you want more people on your railway line, but don’t want to put another station on the other side of town. In Mashinky, you can add a waiting room for passengers onto your existing railway station. This will extend the affected area greatly.
Similarly, you can upgrade the industries you supply. Maybe your sawmill can handle more tree input, but the forest just can’t produce enough. Instead of finding another place to supply from, you can upgrade the forest, with different enhancements to improve raw output. Honestly, it’s great!
A Brand New Perspective
As I’ve mentioned before, this game plays in 3D. This allows the developer to add some great options for you to play around with. Every train and vehicle you own is available for you to ride. You can hop onto the passenger carriage of your train and enjoy a scenic ride through colourful fields. The fun doesn’t end here. If you wish, you can jump straight into the driver’s seat. Yes! You can actually drive the trains you are running in the game.
There is also a simple walk mode. You can explore the towns and cities of the world on foot. Wait around in your stations and get on your trains.
Although I do not expect any of these functions from a simulation game, they are a great way to pass some time while you wait for the money to accumulate.
Should You Get the Early Access?
If you are a fan of the genre, then I would say yes. Although it’s on the pricier side for an indie game at 22,99€. I can say that as a fan of the genre, I enjoy this game intensely. It’s a ton of fun, and it feels like the true spiritual successor to OpenTTD. You can check it out on the Steam page.