The problem with the rapid turnover of games on the App Store – and playing several new arrivals each week – is that it’s easy to get fatigued by titles that there’s not an awful lot wrong with.
Plenty of games pass through the hands of the Pocket Gamer review team that are perfectly serviceable – decent mechanics, solid visuals – but suffer because of a lack of new ideas.
Unfortunately, Tiny Journey is one such game.
It’s well-presented, controls nicely, and builds on its central idea skilfully, with a well-moderated difficulty curve. But you could play through all 90 levels one day and have completely forgotten it by the next morning.
Mechanically, it’s a cross between PipeMania and Trainyard. Your job is to guide a moving train across tracks to its destination, collecting commuters along the way.
You do this by tapping certain sections of moveable track to guide the locomotive in the right direction, with a few seconds between the level starting and the train setting off.
Collecting only one commuter is enough to finish the level but you’ll want to aim for all three, and then try to earn a ‘perfect’ rating, which you’ll get from plotting the optimal route to the finish with the fewest adjustments.
Initially, you’ll merely have a couple of junctions to rotate, the solutions easily teased out. Gradually, you'll need to shift more pieces into place. Then there are further complications – like tracks that break once you’ve passed over them, cones to avoid, or electricity to disable.
In other stages you’ll need to pick up passengers in the right order, as some will disappear if they’re kept waiting too long.
Plenty to choo on
While all these elements add to the challenge, they also tend to reduce your chances of picking a slower path. With the hazards guiding you a particular way, getting all three passengers commonly equates to a ‘perfect’.
There’s not much time to react when the train is on the move, but while waiting to start a level you can plot your route to the finish line, so the game becomes more about memory than quick thinking.
It’s fine. It all works, you’ll never complain about the game misreading your intentions, the difficulty level increases without ever spiking, and in the later game it introduces a new mechanic that makes for some fairly satisfying moments when the solution arrives.
Do the locomotion
The graphics aren’t bad – a little bland, but some will find the cartoonish style appealing – and the music is pleasantly unremarkable.
But that sums up Tiny Journey as a whole. It’s a game that’s difficult to criticise for any reason other than it feels like you’ve played it all before.
It’ll easily pass the time when you’re playing it, but you’ll feel like you’re forcing yourself to finish it – especially if you have other games on the go.
Average right down to its none-more-generic name, Tiny Journey may well find itself an audience, but you’d have to be the most undemanding of players to consider it a must-have.