Developed by stillalive studios and published by astragon Entertainment, Tram Simulator: Urban Transit is a brand-new standalone tram simulator. Simulation games are getting more and more realistic with every release, and they have allowed us to drive some of the coolest machinery to ever exist all from the comfort of our homes be that construction machinery, space rockets, buses, taxis, airplanes, and whatnot. When it comes to simulation, both stillalive studios and astragon Entertainment are known for releasing some solid titles and their latest release is also a simulation title. This is our review of Tram Simulator: Urban Transit on PC via Steam in which we drive around trams and try not to run over anyone.
Tram Simulator: Urban Transit comes with a separate tutorial section that teaches you everything you need to know about driving trams and understanding their advanced features. While this tutorial does not play at the start on its own, it is right there in the main menu and if you are new to the genre, this is a great place to start your tram learning experience. The tutorial features detailed lessons teaching you how to drive around, pick up, and drop off passengers, and manage your tram in extreme situations. This is one solid aspect of the game because once you have completed the tutorial, you are ready to tackle anything in the game. There is only one map in the game Angel Shores despite the menu having three options on the map selection screen and it feels a little odd.
There are three different game modes in Tram Simulator: Urban Transit and each offers a different flavor of the game. If you prefer no handholding and want to jump into the game without any limitations, the Sandbox mode offers all content with unlimited money right from the start of the game. The Story mode is for players who want to play through the missions and explore the history of the tram service of Angel Shores. While Story Mode gives you missions to complete in order, Campaign Mode gives you the freedom to start your own tram company in Angel Shores with a limited amount of money. There are no missions in this mode but only a budget and you have to start and expand from there to the entire city. Both of these modes sound a little confusing at the start, but all modes are unique and offer a different take on the game. The Story Mode could be considered an advanced tutorial of the game as well because you have to do what the game tells you mostly.
The actual gameplay across all game modes is pretty much the same where you start afresh and expand your tram company across Angel Shores. Angel Shores is a map based on a typical USA city and it has a pretty vast and complex tram network, and it is up to you how to utilize it for your company. Each district has a tram hub where you can purchase new trams and from there, you can create custom routes to drive the trams on. There are tons of stops, different options such as peak hours, and others to play around with while creating these routes. You can also check the demand of each stop to create balanced routes to ensure that you are making profits during the route and not incurring losses. As you continue to expand your company and take over more routes, you will grow, and the cycle continues until you get tired of playing the game. The Story Mode can be completed easily as there are not a lot of missions, but they offer a good look at the city and different advanced mechanics.
Depending on your skill level, the game offers two driving modes. If you want a relaxed driving experience, you can go for the much easier Simplified controls which eliminate some advanced driving hazards making the game easier for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for a true and hardcore tram driving experience, you can turn to the Realistic setting which adds some advanced mechanics into the mix such as sanding. Each area has traffic rules and you earn bonus points if you follow these rules such as red lights, speed limits, and using indicators to turn in intersections. Driving mechanics are one of my favorite elements of Tram Simulator: Urban Transit because they are a little different from that of a bus or any other vehicle.
Driving around the tram requires constant speed control and you need to monitor the speed quite often because at turns, you may make your passengers dizzy if you turn too fast and you will hear your passengers getting angry for not following the traffic rules. If you forget to use the indicator while exiting the tram stop or not ringing the bell to alert passengers of the door closing, you will hear plenty from them. They also compliment you if you follow the rules properly, so it is a pretty cool mechanic in the game. Your passengers also talk with each other and sometimes you will need to leave your seat in order to perform small tasks inside the tram. If you get tired, you can also get a driver to drive the tram on the route.
You have many small mechanics to play around with apart from maintaining the speed and starting and stopping from the stops such as ringing the bell, opening, and closing doors, using indicators and many others. If you are using the Realistic driving mode, you will also need to use the sanding method to help drive up hills or make it easier to stop in rainy conditions. You will also need to watch out for many other factors while driving the tram around such as friction, weather conditions and weight while braking and accelerating so there are a lot of things happening at the same time. The game demands focus and attention if you want to get green stars instead of red stars. If you have the correct hardware, the game also supports Tobii/TrackIR which further increases the immersion level of gameplay as you can move your head around and the game will replicate that inside the driver’s cabin.
At this point, there are no officially licensed trams in Tram Simulator: Urban Transit and you have three types of trams which come in two variants each making a total of six trams in the game. You have a smaller version of each tram and then an extended version of each tram. So, there are basically three tram designs with a small and large variant. This is not a lot, and these are custom brands created by the developer. The three in-game tram companies are Adok’s, STG, and SAS Vehicles. While the brands are not known, each of the trams looks great and their interiors are exceptionally detailed. While there is a lack of variety, you will find a modern as well as retro tram in the mix which brings the best of both worlds to the game and allows you to experience how modern and classic trams differ from each other when it comes to features and interior designs.
The modern tram has much more digitalization in it, and you will find tons of modern features and design language in it while the retro tram looks more basic and has a lot of retro features such as instrument clusters, mirrors, and more. The trams on their own look good and their design is exceptionally good. You will not get bored by looking at them again and again and this somehow makes up for the lack of authentic, licensed trams in the game. Each of the trams features interactive driving cabins where you can press different buttons for their functions such as turning signals. The game falls a little short here because only some of the buttons are interactive and while the cabins are fully loaded, only a few items or buttons are actually functional and interactive. You can also leave your seat and explore the passenger sections for picking up lost items, checking tickets, and checking on passengers who are involved in any sort of mischief.
While Angel Shores is not a very big map when it comes to size however the tram network on the map is pretty dense which makes it pretty interesting and it also means that you will not be spending a lot of time on the same roads. The city feels alive as well as there are a lot of NPCs moving around on the streets and there is a lot of traffic as well. The pedestrians and traffic actively respond to your presence as they will run away when you ring your bell and traffic will stop at intersections to give you space to cross first. You will not feel lonely even as a single player as you drive around in Angel Shores. If you have friends to play with, the game also supports online multiplayer so another friend can jump in on the map and both of you can drive different trams at the same time.
Tram Simulator: Urban Transit is a standalone title and does not require Bus Simulator 21 in order to play it. Stillalive studios released a Tram Expansion for Bus Simulator 21 earlier however this is different from the expansion, and you can purchase it and play it even if you do not own Bus Simulator 21 however if you own Bus Simulator 21 Season Pass, this will be a free title for you. It will still remain standalone but owning the Season Pass will grant you free access to it so if you own the previous title’s Season Pass, you do not even have to spend anything to play it. My only complaint at the moment is the lack of content because one map and three different trams are too low for a game that declares itself a simulator. I really hope that the developer adds more maps and trams with additional features to the game soon because it will massively increase its value and life of it.
While Tram Simulator: Urban Transit is a great tram simulation game, at this point, it lacks content and it gets a little repetitive after you complete the campaign and play a little bit of the sandbox mode. There is no doubt that Angel Shores looks and feels great and is probably one of the best cities created by stillalive studios, it still lacks content such as first-party trams and additional areas. The gameplay is pretty solid and if you are fine with the amount of content in the game, you will enjoy spending your time with the game a lot. Driving mechanics are fun and great for both casual and hardcore players. While I would love the developers to add more maps and trams to the game in the future, at this point, you can give Tram Simulator: Urban Transit a shot if you do not own any other tram simulator but otherwise, wait until the developer adds more content to the game.
Final Score: 7.0/10