Model railroads hold some childhood memories, so Mini Trains made me smile almost from the outset. This track-building game puzzler has you trying to get trains from point A to point B. Along the way, you’ll need to make sure they collect matching color stars while not crashing into one another. It’s quite challenging. It’s quite fun.

Despite being a challenging game, Mini Trains is not a complex one. It’s largely, refreshingly intuitive, introducing mechanics at an ideal clip, and wisely jettisoning a timer for leisurely experimenting. However, the controls do take a bit of getting used to, showing their VR origins. Yes, this is a port of Train VR on Steam, also from developer The House of Fables. The initial setup looks a bit odd, and things such as rotating the camera and zooming must be discovered on your own.

The lack of information extends to the scoring. I’m still not quite sure how it works, and no explanation is given in-game. Nonetheless, I continue to find myself trying to improve on earlier levels, especially when I get stuck. Yep, this game is linear. The developers need to take the linear design to the coach yard for repair. It’s a real disservice that just narrows the potential audience. Which is a shame since this game has absolutely so much charm.

Besides improving prior scores, you can earn achievement trophies and beat levels in new ways for replay incentives. I appreciate the latter, as I generally like puzzle games with more than one solution. These don’t completely offset the linear blunder, but they do help, and the game is still addictive and satisfying.

Mini Trains goes for the “cozy playroom” vibe and I have no complaints of note with this choice. I really like the various little visual touches employed, like animations of the flora and fauna, and being able to pan about at will. The view from inside the trains is another key visual perk, but I would’ve liked even more camera angles while riding them – I suppose this would be tough to pull off during the underground tunnel sequences. The graphics are totally appropriate for the idea being presented.

While simpler than its VR counterpart, Mini Trains is priced accordingly. It’s only $ 5.99, which I feel is just about ideal for what’s offered here. True, some things are lacking (tutorials, non-linear design, HD rumble) which does drop my score. But if model railroads hold any type of appeal to you, I think this is a very good puzzle game. It’s one that stands out due to its theme, offering challenging fun, and packed with charm.