Developed: Jan Zeleny
Published: Jan Zeleny
Released: Sept 29th, 2017
Mashinky was released into Early Access Oct 6, 2017 onto the PC – you can pick it up for a cool $24.99. The game was developed by Jan Zelený. Mashinky was Jan’s side hustle for seven years while he worked and some big fancy game developer’s. Seven years to work on the development of one thing is some god damn dedication and you can almost feel his love for this game spilling out into the game world.
How does Jan Zeleny describe his game?
Mashinky is a transport strategy game about trains. The goal is to create your own transport empire on a procedurally generated map. It’s a unique blend of realistic graphics combined with an isometric construction mode and board game-like rules.
That’s fairly straightforward and in a way I feel is almost selling the game the short of what’s inside of it.
You start Mashinsky in a procedurally generated map with towns, coal mines, forest sprawled out nothing connected to each other. Just hanging out by themselves without any locomotion. Being a savvy entrepreneur you begin to connect these resources nodes together in an increasingly complicated web of rails that are are teetering on the verge of collapse held together by suspicious timing and railroad signals.
Mashinky has a fairly cool graphics features to talk about. The game breaks down into two different versions. There is the realistic graphics mode that essentially operates as a video game version of your favorite train set. You can watch trains pull into the station or hop on board the locomotive as they race across the world. This part of the game is just very pretty to look at. The developer uses this camera focus blurry magic to make everything look romantic. If you ever imagined in your head what it would be like to see the love of your life pull away at the train station, this is the game where you can experience that. Well kinda – just like in your real life there is no love looking back at you…the trains in this game are empty, just like us. I’m Sorry.
The other half of the graphics system is where the real game happens. Entering into a isometric build mode – this game’s graphics are stripped down to a real planner mode. It’s barren and precise but enjoys its own type charm. While you won’t have any satisfaction of seeing the brick mortar and steel of what your building, you’ll feel an entirely different kind of satisfaction as you see the rails you build laid out simply and boldly for you to enjoy,
The two modes are are seamlessly interchangeable and it’s a super nice touch from the developer to have both of these modes. My childhood dreams can finally meet the cold realities of adulthood and not be embarrassed to see one another.
The sound here is actually a little underwhelming to me.
Let’s start by talking about the sound effects. Jan Zeleny really did not have to come up with anything brand new to put inside of your ears. You know how all of this is supposed to sound – you know how a train running on track sounds, or how metal clanks together sounds. All of this works and serves to put you inside of the game world to make it all the more believeable. Where the game starts to fall apart in the sound category is the music.
What really bugs me and really does this game a disservice is the soundtrack. This game sounded like it was developed in simulator hell during the 1990’s. The soundtrack had nothing to do with anything that you were doing inside of the game. Progressing through the two different era’s of locomotion available in the game- there is no music in the game that would let you know you’re within any of these time periods. The soundtrack for the game is just a generic upbeat bluesy track that feels like it belongs in Mavis Beacon. Not Mashinky.
I just got done with a pretty heavy run of playing Cuphead. To say that frustration has just become an accepted part of my life is, well, firstly it’s letting too much of my real life slip into these games reviews; but secondly becoming this weird sadistic part of my gaming life that I have increasingly come to love.
I really started playing Mashinsky as this simple game that I thought was Indiedev dipping his toes into the tycoon world. I was so completely and absolutely off the mark with what I first thought about this game. Mashinky goes deep. My first few failed tries at building a railroad monopoly slowly crept from the idea’s that I thought would work for a railroad network to a series of complete messes with trains destroying each other or just sitting on the track staring at one another like confused animals.
As I began to see the depth that Mashinky held and how I could thoughtfully build rails that interchanged and worked together in harmony to deliver goods – I had this aha moment that ignited that small part in your body where you feel addictions begin to creep in.
Building up resources you soon start on building extensions to your hubs. The train stations, resource hubs and manufacturing plants that you park your train at can all be extended to meet different needs. You can build extensions that produce more manufactured goods, or create a product for cash. It’s your choice, and depending on the choices you make your Empire starts to move slightly in different directions.
Tho I do have some problems with different parts of the gameplay.
My first and maybe the largest problem would have to be the rail signal system. This might very well be the exact way that this system was developed and used in real life – but my peanut brain just can not figure it out. Rail lines that had been working for a long time all of a sudden had problems and caused trains to collide exploding in loss of resources and life. I would have absolutely loved a better description of how to set up these systems. My hand needs to be held in these kinds of situations and I was left all alone by the developer.
Another big issue that really began to frustrate me was that I could not set what goods a Station would accept. Stay with me on the explanation. If a station’s range of capture included a sawmill then it would automatically pull timber from the Sawmill, and then store it at the station until pickup. Seems cool – except I don’t want Timber to go to a particular station – it’s where I keep my snowflake passengers who don’t deserve to be standing around piles of timber. Also – my train that delivers Timber is not set up to go to this station, but half the goods being produced are ending up there….if I left you confused here I’m sorry I tried. I would have simply loved to be able to decide what goods a station would accept so I could better dictate the flow of my resources.
This seems like something that should be obvious to me so I looked for a long while on ways to fix my gripes with the game, and I don’t think that they’re in there. If they are and I missed them – I’m just a dummy. If not, they for sure need to be added to future versions.
I’ve touched on parts of the story in Mashinsky throughout this review. You are running a business that’s about building rail and become a Tycoon. The story is just about as deep as that. There are quests along the way that act as tutorials and guided missions to walk you to the next era from locomotion. Here and there-there are quests that will have you decide what kind of transportation to focus – cities asking to be connected. It’s not too deep, but it doesn’t really have to be.
A more robust story would definitely add value to the game – but I’m here for the trains.
I’m a little bit embarrassed with how much I’ve been not just playing Mashinsky but thinking about it. I was solidly reprimanded by my lady earlier today as she was talking to me. Instead of being a good, engaged boyfriend, my mind was drifting to the sweet sweet railroad layouts I had built in Mashinky. And more specifically how I could fix the cluster fuck of a system I had built. The Fact that this game is in Early Access and has this much depth and play for only two Era’s…..its simply great. I really hope that Jan Zeleny can follow up up what he has made here already.
Quick disclaimer for some, I have encountered a few crashes here and there in the game – there is autosave in the game but it’s not always foolproof.
Mashinky is a game that feels like it was made with the love and depth of 90 tycoon games but updated with the ease of use and graphics of the modern era. While the game has a bug and crash here and there – overall this is a very well made that is just a ton of fun to play if you’re looking to nerd out more than we would like to admit.
Mashinky from Jan Zeleny is definitely a buy for me, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys anything build like in gaming.