Back in the late 1990s every household was addicted to the TV program “Changing Rooms”. It was here where an unsure family would hand their keys over to a trendy designer, leaving them for a couple of days to decorate the home, utilising a design of their own choosing. When the final result was revealed some were happy, but others cried and could easily have killed the designer on the spot. In Train Station Renovation you will need to harness the power of Changing Rooms, making the most of your keen eye for design as you are tasked with turning the unkempt into something beautiful. Unlike Changing Rooms though, you will be the sole creator, with no one to please apart from yourself, and most importantly there are no fancy designers mucking up your creative visions. Let’s get designing.
Train Station Renovation is a bit of a mix of Train Sim World and House Flipper and, for some reason, there is a bit of a story added in for good measure. You see, it is you who are tasked with renovating a load of old train stations, turning them into something wonderful and fresh. You do this by driving up to an abandoned station in your pickup truck and spending time surveying the damage; abandoned buildings filled with rubbish, broken windows, and a slew of beer bottles which is a horrible sight to behold.
Wherever you rock up, you’ll realise that there is a lot of work to get on with. The first thing you need to do is take out the rubbish, choosing initially between a recyclable rubbish tip, where you have different bins for glass, wood, and cardboard. When you put the correct coloured bags inside the right compartment you get money for saving the planet – if only life was like that! The other alternative is to get a big skip and just chuck everything into it. The choice, as they say, is yours.
The game is played in the first person and once the rubbish is cleared it’s up to you to get the actual buildings and broken items cleaned and fixed. Thankfully you have a kit bag at your disposal, with everything you could ever need in there. You’ll have special tools for each job, and this means you’ll be left using crowbars to break windows and pull at hard-to-reach broken floorboards, a broom to clean the floor and to get to the cobwebs in the corners, trowels for filling the holes and even a trusty sponge to clean up the graffiti spread everywhere. Further to that, you’ll need to spend time fixing the electrics, sanding the walls and even painting – inside and out. When you have the colour scheme sorted as to how you want, it’s then time to go shopping, filling your train station with all manner of goodies.
Working via an in-game tablet, you will find that you are able to then purchase a range of items for your new space. There are benches in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes for the platforms, ticket machines in both modern and retro designs, drinks machines, departure boards, clocks, plants, and pretty much anything and everything you can think of that will make your station nice and pretty. In the campaign mode, it’s here where you’ll need to be savvy, with limited money to hand, but the sandbox mode is where Train Station Renovation opens up; cash is plentiful and you can build to your heart’s content.
Train Station Renovation fast becomes addictive, but it is also quite therapeutic too. It’s in terms of the design elements which this experience will live or die by though, and success there all depends on how creative your mind is, and how interested you are in filling a blank space. Whether it appeals or not though, you’ll need to work with some fiddly controls.
Visually, and frankly, if you’re a fan of a train station or two, loving the fixtures and fittings that make them what they are, you will have a field day here. If not, then you may struggle as whilst everything looks fine, there is nothing that is ever approaching stunning. And aside from the slightly fiddly control scheme, the menus and UI are easy enough to get around. Further to that, the soundtrack is bouncy and light with a nice collection of tunes that are able to provide a calming backdrop as you get cleaning and designing.
Train Station Renovation is a strange one, however if you fit into the niche market it is trying to appeal to, there’s a chance you will love the game. It’s well-designed, works absolutely fine and the mixture of cleaning and subsequent designing of old abandoned train stations will satisfy many. It’s pretty unique though, and slightly weird, but there is plenty of potential for what it can provide in the right hands.
Train Station Renovation is now available on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One – find it over on the Xbox Store