Trainyard: A Delightful Puzzle Game That Bends the Tracks

Ready to push your engineering limits and successfully route trains in tight situations?  Even if you never enjoyed model train sets as a kid, you may find that routing trains is as fun, and maybe even more challenging, than shooting angry birds at pigs.  Let’s take a look at Trainyard, a newer game in the App Store, and see if trainyards still are appealing in the 21st century.

iOS devices are great for increasingly intensive 3D games, but sometimes you just want to relax and play a game that will spark your imagination while giving your eyes a rest.  Trainyard is an innovative puzzle game that does just that.  The game consists of laying out tracks to guide trains from their origin to their destination, starting out with easy layouts and working up to mind-bending levels that take ingenious track layouts to solve.

Starting Out With Trainyard

Trainyard uses a nice color scheme that’s easy on the eyes even when you’re playing in a dark envorinment, but it’s lit up with various subtle animations throughout the game. To get started, just select the first region. Trainyard is broken up into regions and individual stations, and you’ll need to collect points from solving levels to access the more advanced ones as in most games.

Get started solving your first trainyards

Get started solving your first trainyards

You’ll notice helpful tutorials interspersed throughout the levels that will help you master Trainyard track techniques and understand new concepts. As you progress through the game, you’ll need to merge trains to combine them or change their color, or run them through painter or splitter blocks; the tutorials help make these clear as you come to them.

Master Trainyard with interactive tutorials

Master Trainyard with interactive tutorials

Once you’re ready to start solving a level, press Start New Solution. Sometimes you’ll need more than one try to get a level solved, but if you don’t want to lose your halfway finished track, you can always start a brand new solution or clone the existing one to edit it further. Then you can browse through the solutions you’ve created for a level at any time you want.

Try multiple ways to solve each level

Try multiple ways to solve each level

Creating tracks is easy: just drag your finger from the origin (the square with a plus) to the destination (the square with a circle). No square on the board can contain more than 2 directions of track, so you’ll need to carefully place your tracks where they don’t interfere with each other too much. When two sections do overlap, you can double-tap on the intersection to choose which level is active first; this will alternate as trains pass over. Correct your mistakes quickly with the undo button, or remove larger portions of you track in the Erase mode.

Drag your finger to create tracks, and erase them just as easily

Drag your finger to create tracks, and erase them just as easily

Once you’re finished, tap Start the Trains and watch your trains run to their destinations. If all goes well, you’ll be rewarded with points and get to progress to the next level; if not, it’s Back to the Drawing Board for you! Trains that end up at the wrong destinations will crash, while non-primary color trains will turn brown if mixed and will crash at any station.

After tweaking your level, share your most ingenious solutions with your friends online quickly with Share Solution button. This will upload your design to Trainyard’s website, where you can replay it, compare it to others, and more.

Let the world see your best tracks

Let the world see your best tracks

Going Social with Trainyard

Trainyard doesn’t support the Apple Game Center or other iOS scoreboard systems, but it does let you share and compare your tracks with other Trainyard users as mentioned above. From the Settings screen, you can also integrate your Facebook account with Trainyard to automatically share your scores with friends if you wish. Additionally, you can share Trainyard the old fashioned way: tap the Switch Players button to activate another player account, and let a friend give Trainyard a shot directly on your device.

Sharing scores or the Trainyard experience - it's your choice

Sharing scores or the Trainyard experience - it's your choice

The Options screen also lets you change other options, such as turning off sounds and the animated Visual FX mode to save battery. You can also activate Color Blind mode to make Trainyard accessible even if you or a friend can’t see the train colors.

Pros and Cons

For the most part, Trainyard ran great in our tests. We did notice that it seemed somewhat power hungry for a lite game, but turning off the Visual FX effects helped considerably. It was also not as responsive to touch in some areas, especially when making corners of tracks, so we hope to see some improvement there in updates. Trainyard’s lack of scoreboard integration may also put off more serious gamers, but for a puzzle game, the included sharing options seem to be plenty. The variety of included tracks and tools in the game give you a lot to enjoy, though, and we’ve found it enjoyable even after playing through many levels.

Conclusion

Trainyard is a great puzzle game app that is refreshing both in its simplicity and elegant design.  It’s a focused game that lets you challenge you mind for a couple minutes without flashy graphics and 3D effects.  If you’ve been looking for a game that’s calm and forces you to use your mind, this game might be right for you.

If you’re not ready to buy the full app, be sure to try out the free Trainyard Express.  It’s a fun app in its own right, with 60 unique puzzles that make it much more interesting than most free lite games.  In fact, if you really like Trainyard, you could even get the Express version, too, for extra levels!


Summary

Trainyard is a puzzle game that challenges your logic to solve dozens of levels. Draw tracks to merge, color, and guide trains to their home stations, and invigorate your problem solving skills in the process.

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