A cozy puzzler about making connections and self-expression.
Something Random – a new studio founded by the creators of Superhot VR – releases their new game, Toy Trains on PS VR2 on January 16, 2024. What is it, how did it come to be, and why can switching genres lead to better games? Hop on board to find out the answers to all these questions!
What is Toy Trains? It’s a playful, track-building game taking place on a miniature railway brought to life. “At its core, it’s a game about making connections,” says Marcin Jóźwik, the project’s lead. “On the gameplay side, we pair little houses with construction sites in order to build meeting places for inhabitants of that world – Railies. On the story side, it’s about the need to uphold connections with other people, even when it proves hard. The theme radiates even outside the game itself. Our goal was to make something that can connect various generations. A title that can be enjoyed by kids, their grandparents, and everyone in between.”
Toy Trains is not something you would probably expect from former Superhot VR developers. Indeed, these two games couldn’t be any more different! The first one is focused on ‘the dark side’ of games. Mainly, how young people can be influenced and consumed by them. The second shows that games can also be calming, relaxing and actually help dealing with hardships. Superhot VR was a shooter for ‘core gamers’ while Toy Trains is directed to players of all ages. While Superhot VR was mainly red and white, Toy Trains is colorful and cartoony. So, is there anything that connects them?
“The design principles in both games are basically the same,” explains Cezary, the team writer/designer. “We’re always laser-focused on delivering gameplay that is easy to understand, fluent, devoid of any unnecessary fluff. If the player is not having fun within the first 15 seconds of the game – we failed at our job.” The other thing that connects those games is that both of them make time stop – but in a very different sense.
From the first track put on the table you’ll be drawn to the gameplay and presented world. Most likely you’ll find yourself immersed to the point that you’ll take off your goggles in awe of how many hours have already passed. The ease of use, comfort and lack of distractions truly pulls you into Toy Trains and refuses to let go. Atmospheric music, clattering of little trains, the sounds of nature make for a very soothing experience. There is no rush, no timers, no score – only you and the place you create on the board.
“We didn’t want the game to force the player to do anything,” adds Marcin. “Every challenge you face is open-ended and has various possible solutions. You always get to be creative and strategic about the map’s final outcome instead of simply solving a puzzle.” To enhance the creativity aspect, Toy Trains also leaves space for self-expression. The player can freely decorate the board once they’ve finished building the rails. Placing farms or little stacks of hay can transform the miniature entirely – make it personal and unique.
The creation and puzzle-solving aspects of the game, along with its cozy, nostalgic presentation, make it a perfect game to enjoy by families and friends in front of a big screen. The timing and platform it comes to are not accidental either. Cold, winter afternoons will be perfect to sit in the living room, pass the PS VR2 headset along, discuss the challenges and admire tracks and decorations placed by our loved ones. With that, the team wants to prove that VR can bring people together instead of isolating them.
The last remaining, unanswered question is – why did the team decide to make Toy Trains instead of another action title like Superhot?
“It would be easy to make only shooters for the rest of our careers,” says Kuba, the company’s lead programmer. “But if you want to make truly unique things you can’t stand still. You need to challenge yourself, shake things up. Creativity comes from discomfort. That’s why we have begun with Toy Trains, but who knows what we’ll follow up with!”
Toy Trains is set for a release on January 16 on PS VR2.