There are a lot of once-ordinary things people are getting nostalgic for in the weird times of 2020, but the daily commute doesn't tend to be one of them. If you do miss the cramped trains and busy stations, however, you can get your kicks in Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up, which launched Version 1.0 yesterday after spending over a year in Early Access.
Overcrowd largely sticks to the tried-and-true formula when it comes to management sim gameplay—expect to spend a lot of your time gradually improving buildings, balancing finances, and hiring and firing staff—but at the same time it's easy to see where the appeal lies. The graphics are attractive, the music is cheery, and the NPCs engage in occasional sudden outbursts of shockingly anti-social behaviour that would perhaps hit a bit too close to home if the animations weren't adorable and hilarious.
There's no campaign mode in Overcrowd, so the whole game is a sandbox which you can approach more or less at your own pace. Procedurally generated maps add a genuine layer of challenge when expanding your business, lending a realistic sense of space constraint to underground development in the fictional 'Lubdon Town'. (Where could they have got their inspiration, I wonder?) In the end, it's all about maximising the commuters' ease and satisfaction as they move through the station: the game's primary focus on customer experience rather than profit was the stand-out feature to us here at PC Gamer when we first played it in early access, even if it does seem a tad unrealistic.
The full release of Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up is now available to purchase on Steam, with a 30 percent launch discount until October 20.