JiG: Episode 3

Welcome to episode 3 of JiG.  Apologies for this one being a couple of days late.

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Feature Game Released Last Week: Station to Station

"Station to Station" can be likened to a puzzle game rooted in the mechanics commonly found in simulation-style games. It involves aspects such as resource and money management, which are crucial for unlocking further possibilities within the gameplay loop. The premise is quite straightforward: various buildings on your map function as resource-producing industries, and your task is to connect these to the structures that require those resources, ultimately linking them all to the cities.

Your Objective

Your objective is simple: create connections based on the needs and production capacities of each element, and success is yours. In essence, it's about figuring out how to establish these connections. Even though it doesn't delve too deeply into the intricacies of rail management, I found myself captivated by its ingenious levels and captivating aesthetics. Surprisingly, the game's departure from my initial expectations added an element of delightful surprise to my experience. Regardless of whether I knew exactly what "Station to Station" was about beforehand, its charm, intriguing pace, immersive atmosphere, and challenging gameplay would still hold strong appeal for me as a gamer.

This Puzzle Game is Worth It

"Station to Station" markets itself as a "relaxing and minimalist game about building railway connections," and this description is quite fitting. The game offers six distinct "worlds," each containing five or six levels. These levels vary in size but draw thematic inspiration from their respective worlds. For instance, the "Sunforge Sands" and "Golden Dunes" worlds present desert biomes, while "Eveningstar Valley" and "Greendale" pay homage to the American west with voxel-infused landscapes. However, these thematic differences don't significantly impact the puzzles themselves, apart from a few bonus tasks, which I'll address later. It feels like a missed opportunity not to have more environmental variations that would influence the strategic approach to solving each level. While there are some elements unique to different biomes, like having to clear forests in some levels or account for varying cliff heights in others, I would have appreciated even greater diversity.

The endearing voxel models are visually pleasing, and the lighting in "Station to Station" elevates its charm further. The rivers and lakes glisten in the sunlight, and many levels exude a perpetual golden hour warmth. As you expand your rail network and connect various industries, the landscape bursts with color, with each connected industry radiating a golden aura of life. It's truly enchanting. Even without any connections, each level possesses its own beauty, but as you piece together the map, it transforms into an inviting, vibrant world that seems unconcerned with whether you're watching. Trains traverse their tracks and make stops, birds soar in the sky, and other wildlife meanders about peacefully. I could almost find contentment just drifting around the map, zooming in and out to admire the intricate architecture of the tiny buildings or watch seagulls trace lazy figure-eights in the sky, even without the compelling rail management gameplay that envelops these miniature worlds.

Leveling Up

Achieving financial success in each level isn't the sole bonus objective. Each map features a Star goal to aim for, such as completing a level with a stack worth $1200. The primary "story," so to speak, took me approximately eight hours to finish, but now I'm drawn to replaying the levels more attentively to meet those bonus goals. I'm uncertain if there are any special rewards beyond a few additional achievements for completing them, but the enjoyment of revisiting the levels to tackle these extra challenges is a sufficient incentive for me.

"Station to Station" doesn't pose a formidable difficulty challenge, but it excels in striking a balance between planning ahead and thinking on your feet. Each level doesn't begin with all buildings in place; they unlock as you achieve specific monetary milestones, which vary for each stage. Thus, you might devise a perfect rail line connecting resources, only to realize that you now need to construct a more costly bridge over an existing rail line to link two newly unlocked map features. On occasion, I found myself nearing the end of a level, only to restart due to a shortage of funds for new rail lines. Nevertheless, these unexpected setbacks never caused frustration. In fact, they injected a sense of excitement because it meant I could replay the delightful level with the benefit of hindsight.

Game released on October 3rd on all platforms. Currently (as of today) it is $17.99 on Steam.

Exclusive Deal For Premium Subscribers: Z Zombies: Battle Royale

Another fun mobile/PC game has come out recently called Z Zombies: Battle Royale from game maker io2 Games. It's an intense battle royale game, where your quick thinking and strategic decisions will be put to the ultimate test. Your goal: eliminate hordes of pesky zombies and outwit other online players within the arena with speed and quick thinking.

This game is meticulously crafted to deliver immense satisfaction as you sharpen your skills and gain mastery over the battleground. As you level up, you'll unlock a plethora of abilities, each unique to the skin you choose. Can you become a master of all these abilities? While you'll begin with the fundamentals, it won't be long before you're skillfully mixing and matching skins to extract their full potential.

It is currently available on Android, iOS, and Steam.

Free Game For JiG Premium Subscribers: BLINNK and the Vacuum of Space

Greetings, and welcome to the depths of Deep Space Station Norpopolis! An unfortunate laboratory mishap has set free mischievous beings known as groobs, who are now wreaking havoc throughout the station. Equipped with the reliable Vacuumiser 5000, your mission is to assist BLINNK in capturing each one of these unruly creatures and returning them to the laboratory, restoring peace and order.