It's been a couple years since its console debut but Railway Empire is back in a brand new version for Nintendo Switch. Choo-choo!
Back in 2018, I reviewed Railway Empire for PS4 and absolutely loved it. So, I was excited to try out the Nintendo Switch Edition in the hopes that it takes advantage of the console's unique features. Thankfully, the core experience remains intact and for the unfamiliar, it involves creating a network of railways in order to deliver goods, mail, and people from place to place. Although this sounds simple, there's a mind-blowing amount of detail that you can tinker around with if you so desire and you'll also compete with rival railway companies which adds a welcome layer of complexity to the overall challenge. In the end, the combination of simulation components, real-time strategy, and competition make for a supremely rewarding formula that's impressively immersive as you expand your rail network across the game's many real-world locations. Best of all; none of this rewarding gameplay is compromised to fit on the Switch.
One aspect that I absolutely love about Railway Empire is how it scales according to how deep you want to dive into its gameplay. If you merely want to build railroads and manage everything on a high level, you can do that and still succeed. At the same time, simulation enthusiasts can implement realistic options such as not allowing trains to pass each other unless you create appropriate hubs and paths to do so. Whether you're hiring promising staff members, researching new train types, unlocking helpful boosts, or bidding in auctions; the gameplay remains enjoyable no matter what tasks you choose to undertake. Plus, as you play, you'll check off a list of challenges which offers even more reward to the already satisfying gameplay loop. It truly is a strategic simulation for everyone regardless of skill level.
So, what's different about Railway Empire - Nintendo Switch Edition? For starters, it includes a few free DLC expansions which allow you to play within 3 additional locations: Mexico, The Great Lakes, and Crossing the Andes. As of writing this, you can also purchase Great Britain & Ireland, Germany, and France. Hopefully, Northern Europe and Down Under will be available soon as well.
Although the DLC add-ons are great inclusions, I was hoping that this Nintendo Switch Edition better utilized the console's features. First and foremost, being able to play it portably is an excellent bonus. However, the touchscreen support is severely lacking. I was looking forward to drawing train tracks with my finger and navigating menus by simply tapping on items. Instead, the touchscreen seems to only be used to control the camera which is odd. It's nifty being able to pan and zoom the camera with your fingers but considering that's about the extent of this feature, it's rather disappointing. Besides, controlling the camera is already intuitive with the controller.
Finally, Railway Empire looks absolutely stunning on PlayStation 4 and it takes a huge step back in order to run on Nintendo Switch. The graphics go from realistic-looking maps and lively towns to rather clunky visuals and houses that look like cardboard cut-outs. I don't want to completely disparage the graphics because it still looks great for a Switch game but when you compare it to its current generation counterparts, it's obvious that it looks leagues better on other consoles. I also encountered some performance issues such as frame rate drops that seem to primarily occur shortly after loading up a game but beyond that period, things remain much more stable.
Railway Empire is an excellent real-time strategy simulation game and this Nintendo Switch Edition retains its rewarding and engaging gameplay. Even with its less than stellar graphical performance, I still recommend checking it out, especially if you only own a Switch.
- + Fantastic strategic simulation gameplay that's as rewarding as it is immersive
- + Options for gamers of all skill levels
- + Contains a few DLC expansions
- - Doesn't look nearly as good on Switch
- - Some performance issues
- - Lackluster touchscreen support