In a way utterly fitting its visual style, each Mini Metro level starts out very minimalist. There are a few stations, perhaps a few bodies of water, and your goal is to transport passengers between the stations.
The rules also practically explain themselves. Triangle passengers want to be dropped off at triangle stations. Circle passengers are headed to circular stations. And so on.
There’s a kind of early-game zen here, since all you’re really doing is making sure that each station is connected, and absorbing the beautiful music and weirdly nostalgic visuals of an abstract metro map.
Things start getting hectic as more passengers start overloading the systems you’ve put in place. Is it better to have a small central circular line that other lines feed into, or does a hub-and-spokes design make more sense?
You also start running into constraints and hard choices. If you only have one bridge left, you can only cross the water once so an out-and-back line won’t work anymore. Should additional carriages go to the constantly-busy central-city lines, or the overextended ones that are the only option for far-reaching edges of the map?
Mini Metro is one part game and one part graphic design. It’s the classically minimal, beautiful, and abstract subway map design contrasted with the hectic nature of transporting as many passengers as possible that makes this game so captivating.
Like many great games, this is a bunch of simple parts working together, but then pushed to their (and the player’s) limit under a set of tight constraints that make the choices you make so interesting. This game is a delight whether you want to relax or you want to hyper-optimize.
You enjoy minimal design, abstract real-time strategy, or the contrast between peaceful settings and overwhelming amounts of information