NIMBY Rails First Impressions

I had put NIMBY Rails on my Steam Wishlist a while ago before it released back in 2019. I had mostly forgotten about it until I saw an email from Steam pop up on my phone at the end of January.

NIMBY Rails is a railway management sandbox game made by the same devs as The Spatials: Galactology. It gives you the tools to create passenger rail systems anywhere in the world using Open Street Maps. It’s a niche concept but one that I’m finding endlessly entertaining right now. I’ve always been fasinated with maps so building on a detailed world map had been fantastic.

The game is in early access right now but is very playable and has gotten a lot of updates in the 2 weeks it’s been available. Right now, there are two ways to play: with money and with unlimited money. If you want to play a tycoon-like management game playing with money is the way to go. You start out with a loan of 1 billion dollars and can start building anywhere in the world. The goal is to pay off your loan and turn a profit to expand your rail networks. Unlimited money offers more of a creative mode but includes all of the management options as playing with money. It even gives you the accounting stats. Unlimited money seems geared more towards people who want to create real-life rail systems as opposed to imagined ones.

Until recently, playing with money was a bit tedious unless you were building in highly populated cities like Tokyo or Mexico City. The time multiplier only went so high so when you ran out of money you’d just have to wait or leave the game running overnight to generate enough capital to start building again. It turns out rail lines are very expensive. A recent update boosts the game time speed up by x10000 and then throttles down depending on what your CPU can handle. This makes building in smaller areas way more viable as the days pass by in seconds instead of minutes.

I appreciate the simplicity of the game so far. A lot of times with niche simulation games you’re given a lot of complex tools and I spend most of my time figuring out what does what. Which tends to get in the way of actually enjoying the game itself. NIMBY Rails gives me all of the tools I need right off the bat to start creating and offers a short quickstart guide to explain the basics.

There are 3 structures you can build: stations, tracks, and depots. Each structure has 4 types: Groud, Viaduct, Tram, and Tunnels. Each type offers different trade-offs in speed, cost, and placement. For example, Tram tracks and stations can be placed anywhere except over water. They’re the cheapest option but have a max speed of 45 km/h. Ground tracks, on the other hand, have the fastest speeds but overpasses need to be built each time they cross a road which adds another 500K for each overpass. That can rack up quickly, especially when getting into or out of cities. There are plans to add more complex tools like single tracks and signals. For now, I’m enjoying the simplicity.

Once you’ve laid some track the management side of things kicks in. You build lines to carry passengers from one station to another. You set the price for the line, adjust wait time intervals so trains don’t run into each other, and constantly have to balance passenger (pax) satisfaction. The happier the pax, the more of them will show up in stations to ride the trains and the more money you’ll make. I’m finding the building more fun than the management right now. But again, the management tools are powerful without being too complicated.

To top it all off there’s multiplayer. With multiplayer, you share a map and, if you’re playing with money, a budget. Everyone can build anywhere but the time multiplier only goes to x30 right now. You can get around this by taking the save into single player and maxing out the speed. The majority of my playtime so far has been spent in multiplayer with Greg. He has a huge interest in trains so when I told him this game existed with multiplayer he immediately bought it.

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