It may condemn me to be on the receiving end of a few funny looks to say that I find the following picture to be one of my favourite pieces of 20th-century artwork.

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As a student living in London, a poster of this design would hang above my bed, allowing me to plan days exploring the capital from the comfort of my own bed (Or help prolong certain activities when sensory distraction was called for). First designed in 1931 by Harry Beck this is a schematic of the city of London’s underground tube network. Sharing less in common with a typical map and more with circuitry blueprints, the Beck maps are a genius creation that is both informative to the user and stylistically beautiful in its own right.  

So why am I harping on at what may soon border on tedious length about underground rail maps for a city you probably don’t live in? Because the recently released Mini Metro allows me to sit where Harry Beck once did and create my very own rail system in his own sublimely utilitarian style and I love it to bits.

The game is simple: join the dots or should that be stations? By clicking and dragging the mouse between two points, you can create a train line that will constantly shuttle passengers from one location to the next. Each passenger wants to go somewhere different of course but don’t worry about it, each is a passenger is represented by a different shape. So for example, you have to get the circle passengers from the triangle to a circle and you’ve done your job.

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At least to start with, over time, however, new stations are introduced to the map that you must join to existing lines or start new ones from your limited pool so that the once simple map you had at first quickly evolves into something resembling this;

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The zen-like calm of joining the dots and watching carriages move between stations slowly subsides into transportation based panic as you begin worrying about the arrival of another station, how will you include it into your network when it’s already at a breaking point? You could add another train or carriage to a pre-existing line to help ease flow but that could leave you unprepared for starting another vital line in the future. Thankfully the game rewards you for surviving each week by giving you another train to deploy and a range of other items such as bridges, tunnels or new lines for you to pick from, depending on your current needs. If you’re playing in a city such as New York it might be a good plan to stock up on bridges early to make sure you’re prepared for later crossings of the Hudson.
It’s hard to know what else to say about what is such a simplistic game other than that I’ve come to love it in a way I love few other games. While many other games boast impressive campaigns, in-depth combat and ever-shifting multi-player to hold your attention, Mini Metro does it through simple, clean design that allows me to switch off my higher brain functions, put on a podcast or two and draw maps for hours in the style of Mr Beck himself.   

About The Author

Contributor

All round song and dance man. Best known for his use of expletives, casual quoting of Jeeves & Wooster and his love for all things Timesplitters. Host of the Played Out Podcast and proud victim of five different gypsy curses

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