PC/Mac/Linux
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Game Info:

STATIONflow
Developed By: DMM GAMES
Published By: DMM GAMES
Released: April 15, 2020
Available On: macOS, Linux, Windows
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: single player
Price: $17.99

Thank you, DMM GAMES, for sending us a review code!

I never thought I would ever be reviewing another train video game—I don’t exactly seek out realism when it comes to hands-on digital entertainment, nor do I want to think much so the strategy and simulation genre is a genre I am not all that well-versed in. STATIONflow by DMM GAMES is a very interesting kind of strategy and simulation game being set on a grid but also has some elements of real-time strategy games. It is both a train station simulation but it is also a train station management game.

The main goal of STATIONflow is to manage a train station and try to not go bankrupt. For people who normally commute via train have probably experienced issues with trains and the lobbies and have the thought, “what kind of knucklehead is running this madhouse?” Well without spending millions upon millions of dollars, or pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in whatever you need to run a station, you can experience first-hand just how hard and stressful it can be.

When starting a new game, there are many different types of levels ranging from seven premade maps in total. They can range from the simplistic Tutorial map to the multi-layered Steps. The tutorial does do a nice job explaining most of its mechanics but does fail to mention that the camera can be rotated by holding the right mouse button. It starts rather simple with all you need to do is simply connect entryways and exit ways, while producing signs telling people where the train is or where they transfer to. At first, you can make stairs and steps. The longer you make the steps or stairs, the more expensive they’ll be.

STATIONflow
Highlights:

Strong Points: Can range from being a simple experience to a hectic one with adjustable difficulty; music is relaxing and immersive
Weak Points: The tutorial could stand to be a bit more fleshed out; the “angry face” indicator isn’t exactly the best indicator to what ails the people
Moral Warnings: None

DMM GAMES accommodates all kinds of players as STATIONflow is easy to control whether you are right-handed or left-handed. Like most strategy games, most of it can be controlled by the mouse. Camera panning requires either the arrow keys or the WASD setup. C and F keys control what level you build things on. There are hotkeys for various actions such as selecting materials or objects and altering the speed of the game.

You’re given a lot of freedom as to how you want your station’s paths to look like. It doesn’t matter how goofy or impractical it looks, in the end, it’s all about if it works. At any time you can halt entryways if you need to lessen the number of people inside the station. This does mean less overall profits and that upkeep costs still need to be maintained. An interesting note to be aware of is that there are maintenance costs to the various things that are built inside the station as well. Good management will mean that the upkeep is barely an issue. The average day lasts from 04:00 to 23:59 and at the end of each day, you are given an evaluation. Getting a score (ranging from A+ to F) gives you experience that levels up your station. The higher your station level, the more things you unlock, which also means more entry/exit ways open, and different types of people now visit your station.

After the one hour mark is when things start to get crazy. It starts simple enough but as more and more people are showing up to your station, you’ll have to accommodate their needs. You’ll need to have stairs so people can walk from level to level, but you’ll also need coffee stations to satisfy those thirsty customers. Oh, but now you have tourists visiting and they don’t understand what the arrows pointing to gates mean, so you’ll need an information booth as well. Now old people are visiting the station and due to their stiff and brittle bones, they can’t walk up those stairs. Do you even have enough room to put in escalators? All the while, people are getting mad because corridors are getting too congested so you’ll need to widen them so people have more space. And now people have to pee so where’s your bathroom? It’s not uncommon to end a day in the red, you just don’t want to end too many days there. As stated before, all of this needs upkeep costs as well. If things get too hectic, you can always take out a loan, but with loans come interest.

If the madhouse hasn’t driven you to illiteracy, there’s always the music to calm you down. STATIONflow uses mixtures of techno, low-fi, and electronic music for easy listening. For me, it feels nostalgic. The calm beats and the digital instruments remind me of the times where I would stay up till the early mornings either surfing the web or flipping through channels for something to watch—weaving in between the realm of dreams and consciousness. Those were some fond moments of my youth. The beats of STATIONflow can repeat themselves but it never feels repetitive.

STATIONflow
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay 17/20
Graphics 7/10
Sound 8/10
Stability 4/5
Controls 5/5

Morality Score - 100%
Violence 10/10
Language 10/10
Sexual Content 10/10
Occult/Supernatural 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

When looking at the people pass through the station, their look reminds me of the Little People toys from Fisher-Price. Watching them hobble around like figures in their simplistic little world—wondering just where they are going. This eccentric bunch sure are expressive and needy. They always seem to want more. It’s no big deal for me. I’ll gladly satisfy all their needs to the best of my ability.

There isn’t exactly an “end” as the levels keep on going until you decide to end it yourself or you go bankrupt, but I assume the end can be counted as reaching level 20 since nothing more unlocks past that (and the fact that the level-based achievements stop there too). It may be simple in graphics but when population count reaches two-thousand and more, it will start to lag unless you have a high-end PC.

So with my accomplishment of reaching level 20 in a couple of maps, my time with STATIONflow was far more enjoyable than I anticipated. It is an experience that you can either spend minutes a day at or hours if you so choose too. With a map editor and the ability to share them with others, the amount of playtime is near limitless. Adjustable difficulty ranging from construction time to people's satisfaction means your experience can be smooth sailing or hectic. There would be things I’d like to see in future updates such as specific scenarios or events happening on certain days and the AI can use some slight tweaks—although in hindsight if the AI were a bit smarter I guess it wouldn’t be a simulator. If you notice that there is a lack of moral warnings/concerns paragraph, that’s because there is nothing to worry about in that regard. As a person who pursued undergraduate studies in business management, I connected with STATIONflow and can see myself coming back to it from time to time as I completely understood the frustration and satisfaction that comes with herding a bunch of people around a business. People who enjoy games like the RollerCoaster Tycoon series may enjoy this as well.

About the Author

Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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