Steam Engine Train At Night

Sweet Transit: Optimization Heaven – PC Early Access Preview

Do you like trains? Well, you better because Sweet Transit, developed by Ernestas Norvaišas and published by Team 17, is about taking resources and passengers from one place to another by train. Unlike other city and factory builders, Sweet Transit provides a relaxed train building experience not based on dealing with resource scarcity but more on how efficiently you can make your ever-increasing production lines.

Though Sweet Transit contains no official story mode yet, it provides a series of tutorials and a starter world named Paris that provides a small train network and town to start. Though given it is at the beginning of early access, there is surely more to come. However, I advise watching the video tutorials on Team 17’s youtube channel before you start playing to supplement the in-game ones.

Western Town
Image Credit – Team17

“Sweet Transit keeps the focus on optimizing and expanding resource gathering rather than trying to mitigate resource scarcity.”

You begin each map like any other city builder, with a city. Place a village center and warehouse, then build a small hamlet with water access for fishing and water towers. Afterwhich stations become available, and the game really starts. The major resources you will deal with in Sweet Transit are coal, wood, and food. You need wood to build out and maintain your village and coal to power your trains, among other things.

The main goal, encouraged by new building and production options, is to increase your population and keep them happy. While it is possible to get stuck with insufficient resources, production facilities and train lines normally only require wealth (which you have a lot of) and laborers to run. Sweet Transit keeps the focus on optimizing and expanding resource gathering rather than trying to mitigate resource scarcity.

Saw mill
Image Credit – Team17

Leaving room For error

This low-risk play is for the best. Designing routes and creating tracks and intersections is what makes the game so enjoyable, turning a lumber town into a bustling late 19th-century metropolis. To get there, you will need a lot of train tracks. And while getting one train running is easy, dozens are required into the late game.

To handle that many trains on the same tracks, you must block off portions of the rails with frequent signals and signal types before stations, intersections, and branch lines. Eventually, it becomes a puzzle in itself, as you program the tracks to tell the trains to stop if the block is occupied or to not go down certain branches by the direction of the track or the signal. Trains also must be designed, built, and given a route and objective at each stop, like picking up passengers or unloading resources.

Train Depot
Image Credit – Team17

It gets increasingly complicated from there with different signals, multiplatform stations, complex intersections, bridges, and more. But Sweet Transit leaves room for error and plenty of resources to keep the focus on building, upgrading, and optimizing your systems.

“It gives you the feeling of working with the environment and not against it.”

Unlike similar games in the genre like Factorio, Sweet Transit avoids the apocalyptic industrial sprawl in favor of a romanticized love of the steam engine era of rail. The environments and buildings are rustic, hard but charming, and lovingly rendered in a late 90s retro isometric style with some 3D elements. Accompanied by a western and country-tinged soundtrack, it gives you the feeling of working with the environment and not against it and of endlessness due to its massive default maps.

Welcoming yet complex, easy to start but with a high skill ceiling, Sweet transit is an excellent city and factory sim on its way to pleasing hardcore enthusiasts and newbies alike. Sweet Transit is available now in Early Access on Steam for $21.99 on PC, with many more updates on the way as it chugs through early access.

*Disclaimer: Previewed on PC, Early Access code was provided by the Publisher.