STAFF REVIEW of Train Life: A Railway Simulator (Xbox One)

Tuesday, November 1, 2022.
by Adam Dileva

Train Life: A Railway Simulator Box art Having just recently reviewed another competitor Train Sim game, I already had some good base knowledge about the train engineer life, how to generally operate one and what goes into travelling across country on the railway. Having assumed this was going to be just another run-of-the-mill train simulator with its own slightly different twist, there’s actually a good amount of unique content and gameplay with Train Life: A Railway Simulator that differentiates itself from the competition.

Now I will say, even though it has Simulator in its title, and it is replicating that to a degree, it’s not quite as in-depth as other train simulators out there. Not necessarily a bad thing, it did have a little more arcade-like touch to its core gameplay, but what makes it most unique is that it’s also a company management simulator as well, opening up a completely different element of gameplay for those that want just a little more than your standard train simulation mechanics.

Once you begin your train life journey, you start by creating your own railway company. Do you want to focus on travel, bringing passengers from one corner of Europe to the other, move commodities and supplies, or a bit of both? The handful of tutorials will teach you the basics of the train controls, how to move, switching tracks, purchasing new trains and the basics of hiring new employees and getting your company off to a strong start. That said, while the tutorials are informative for the basics, there’s a whole slew of things that I had to figure out on my own through trial and error and I swear one part of a tutorial simply wasn't working properly.

Also, after the tutorials are complete, you’re simply thrown into the world with a train and absolutely no objectives or guidelines. Sure, some will enjoy this freedom to do whatever you want however you like, but having no guidance was frustrating from its opening moments. I wasn’t sure what I should do. Even worse, I was still figuring out the controls and menus since not everything is completely covered in the tutorial and the menu system is a bit confusing at best.

The ‘Career’ is simply you doing whatever you want for your company. Do you pick up passengers at one station and bring them to their destinations? Do you pick up some oil tankers to bring across country to sell for huge profits but has a large time commitment? You’ll need to basically figure this out for yourself. Having zero objectives wasn’t fun, nor was having any sort of set path or clear goals other than running a successful railway company, I guess.

To run a successful business, you’re going to have to invest into it, and to do that you’re going to have to start earning some cash, and quick, depending on the large list of game settings you decided on before beginning. You’ll need to purchase new trains, maintain them with repairs when required, hire new staff, choose contracts from different stations and more. If you desired, you could basically play Train Life: A Railway Simulator as a company simulator, but of course most will be drawn to conducting the trains themselves. So get your work gear on and get ready to visit stations all across Europe.

While Train Life: A Railway Simulator has real locations and trains, it’s not exactly always a 1:1 recreation from its real world counterparts. You’ll be visiting stations across Belgium, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and more. There are also some real life stations like Berlin Central Station and Zurich Main Station, but if you know these areas like the back of your hand, you may notice it’s not 100% exact. And that’s fine, it may not be an exact replica but it should seem familiar and be recognizable at least. The same goes for its trains, as they don’t seem to be quite as detailed as like in other train simulator games, but it still does a great job for cabin, controls and design. So set your path and plan to coast along thousands of kilometers of track as you try and earn more profit for your company.

With a handful of different trains available like the ICE 3 and ICE 4, among others, they each control similarly but they all perform differently when it comes to their power, maximum speed and braking power. In other train sim games there were complete different startup sequences and even controls, but as I mentioned above, Train Life: A Railway Simulator is somewhat more of an arcade experience, so the controls are much more simplistic to remember and are the same across each train.

If you’ve not played a train simulator before you’re going to realize quite quickly that these don’t drive like a typical vehicle. You have an accelerator and brakes, but they perform quite differently than your typical car. Triggers will control your accelerator, moving in 10% increments for its power, and the Bumpers are your brakes, also in 10% increments for its braking power. You can’t just slam the train into 100% acceleration because the wheels are going to slip, kind of like a burnout with your car. Also keep in mind, these trains weigh tons and tons, so you need to plan to brake well before you actually want to.

You’ll need to not only pay attention to the train itself and follow the speed limits and zones, but keep an eye out for track controls, animal crossings, hill incline and declines, and even changing weather conditions. Don’t follow the rules and you’ll be fined, so you can’t just have your train leave its departure and ‘set it and forget it’, as there are different speed limits based on your path and you may need to come to a stop and wait for an oncoming train at times as well. One time I fully expected to go full speed from start to finish, only to have to slow way down when there was construction or some fallen trees on a section of track with workers nearby.

Not having to worry about different power lines, startup or any in-depth train knowledge needed, I quite enjoyed the arcade aspect to its gameplay, being much more simplistic. That’s not to say that some might not enjoy it as much, especially those really into the simulation aspects, but this is a great starting point for anyone new to the train simulation genre. The company management component is the tradeoff here, adding another layer of gameplay, complexity and strategy.

The most you’ll need to pay attention to is your speed and the GPS once you have your pathway set on the map from departure to destination. You have a minimap in the bottom left corner, and when you get near a crossing junction you’ll see a ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ appear underneath. While this is very briefly touched on in the tutorial, I think, this took me the most time to actually figure out by trial and error. Tapping ‘Y’ button is how you change the track coming up ahead to Left or Right ‘turns’. You can pause the game and check out the map to zoom in and figure out the path you need, but the GPS is smart and will point you in the right direction by having the ‘correct’ path, the “Left” or “Right” wording, highlight in green if correct and red if not based on your targeted destination. Once you figure this out it’s simple once you have your destination path set, but it can be tricky to get the tracks switched in time if you’re going a little too fast or there are a lot of junctions close together in a station.

The management aspect of Train Life: A Railway Simulator is what makes it unique and differentiates itself against other train simulators. Not only do you choose the logo and name for your company, but you’ll be purchasing new trains, hiring employees to have them complete contracts, maintaining your trains and even upgrade them with new parts. There’s a skill tree that you can invest in as you level up by completing scenarios or contracts, so there’s a bit here under near the hood once you get the hang of it all.

Visually, Train Life: A Railway Simulator won’t impress by any means. Sure, inside the train themselves it looks decent, it’s nowhere near realistic either though. There’s a few camera options, but without a real Free-Cam, it can sometimes be difficult to find that sweet spot of what you prefer. Outside the train though as you pass the world by, this is where things start to stand out negatively though. Buildings, trees and other environmental objects are quite basic looking, and worse, the draw distance is quite short and there’s a ton of pop-in for objects in the distance when using the zoomed out camera, even on an Xbox Series X. When opening the doors to onboard passengers, there’s not even any animations of them doing so, you simply open the door, wait for the timer, then close the doors. No one actually walks in or out of the train, giving the world a lifeless dead feeling as pedestrians just stand around motionless.

As for the audio, there’s nothing really to note. The trains themselves sound decent as the engine powers up or the brakes start to squeal when you hit the emergency brake, but aside from that there’s really not much else. There’s some light music in the background at times and when you radio a station for permission to enter they do speak over the radio, but that’s about it aside from hitting 'bumps' going across junctions.

Once I got the hang of the controls, how to set my destinations and fumbling through the menus like radioing stations before arrival, I started to really enjoy my time with Train Life: A Railway Simulator. Yes it’s not as simulation based as other games in the genre, and that’s alright, it still offers entertainment for those that want to conduct along the rails and allows for the company management aspect of gameplay as well. While it’s much more expensive on console ($38.99 CAD) compared to PC, I’m still getting back onto the rails for a scenario here and there.

**Train Life: A Railway Simulator was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 6.3 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


Site Statistics

Registered Members: 73,464
Forum Posts: 725,954
Xbox One Titles: 4,774
Xbox 360 Titles: 1,086
Xbox 360 Kinect Titles: 95
Xbox 360 Arcade Titles: 586
Original Xbox Titles: 987
Staff Reviews: 2,376
Member Reviews: 10,339
News Articles: 16,450
Screenshots: 37,226
Xbox 360 Achievements: 45,112
Xbox 360 Faceplates: 2,016
Cheat Codes: 1,706

Latest News

Evil West Available Now

Evil West Available NowThis exhilarating adventure set in a twisted, never-before-seen fantasy version of the Old West awaits intrepid players daring enough to battle bloodthirsty monsters in stylish, gory action combat.

BLACKTAIL Get New Overview Trailer

BLACKTAIL Get New Overview TrailerBLACKTAIL, the surreal, first-person, action-adventure game set in a dark fairy tale world packed with stories and legends retold, has revealed a new gameplay overview trailer for it’s December 15th release.

See News Archives

Community Forum Activity

KeyWe Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 12594 Views

2021: XBA is still here
Post by shrew king
27 Replies, 93662 Views

Watch Dogs: Legion
Post by Nato King
0 Replies, 92465 Views

Xbox Series X or S
Post by Nato King
5 Replies, 107520 Views

Spellbreak Grand Magus Pack (3) and Starter Pack (7) Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 103747 Views

I pay $ 1000! I search the Element 54 Canadian launch Team signaturen Faceplate
Post by Smill
0 Replies, 117605 Views

Xbox one no signal
Post by debrartin
0 Replies, 115939 Views

do you remember?
Post by SnoochyBoochy
3 Replies, 141549 Views

i haz xbox
Post by SnoochyBoochy
0 Replies, 108171 Views

Claiming the first thread of 2020
Post by Kraft
7 Replies, 182144 Views

Important! I pay $ 1000! I search the Sweden launch and the Element 54 Faceplate
Post by Smill
3 Replies, 115982 Views

Squad Up
Post by samslophead
0 Replies, 204371 Views

TERA Skinned Xbox One X Giveaway!
Post by Variation-XBA
0 Replies, 146681 Views

Starfield Release expectations?
Post by DJ tx
4 Replies, 256170 Views

Issue with Xbox live on Xbox home
Post by rcmpayne
0 Replies, 143345 Views

© 2000-2022 - All rights reserved. All trademarks are properties of their respective owners.
Xbox is a registered trademark of Microsoft. is not affiliated with Microsoft.

Made in Canada
Site Design by Cameron Graphics