There's been a curious uptick in train games lately. Hot on the heels of Tracks, a nostalgic wooden train sandbox, comes Mashinky, a strategic and involved train sim from one-man developer Jan Zelený. Mashinky recently entered Steam Early Access and is currently available for $24.99.
Zelený describes Mashinky as a realistic sim with "board game-like rules," which is reflected in its grid-based, procedurally generated worlds and handcrafted visuals. Fundamentally it's an isometric strategy game about building a train empire by laying, tweaking, and optimizing tracks and stations for maximum efficiency. Mashinky stands out because of its eight-person multiplayer and dynamic setting.
When complete Mashinky will include seven distinct historical settings (the Early Access build contains the first two), ranging from the steam trains of old to the bullet trains of the future. These settings are unlocked as you progress and are treated as upgrades. Once you unlock an era, you gain access to its buildings, engines, stations and other options. Building track networks to suit the needs and limitations of specific eras sounds like a fun way to showcase the evolution of locomotives and could make for some exciting campaigns.
"Players start the game in control of a transport company," Zelený writes on Steam. "They must lay tracks on difficult terrain, research and buy new vehicles, manage routes and compete against economic rules to make as much profit as possible by transporting passengers and various cargos. This makes for a challenging simulation game requiring the player to consider all elements of business to be successful."
There's also a healthy mix of options on offer, with plans to include 21 different industries (coal, lumber, etc.) to support, 28 railway engines, scripted quests and mod support. For comparison, the Early Access build has seven industries, eight engines and 16 wagons, as well as construction, realistic and driver-view gameplay modes.
Mashinky will be updated on a weekly basis and is expected to release in 2019.