Tiny Traffic by Virtual Turtle Games
Tiny Traffic is a bite-sized puzzle game with a theme built around managing the movements of, unsurprisingly, traffic.
As the title suggests, there’s something of a Micro Machines vibe going on here – don’t expect any races, though – and the aim is to guide the titular traffic to goals without smashing it into walls or other vehicles. This is broken down into four groups of levels, each with their own slightly different aesthetic.
Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light, Go
Tiny Traffic begins with a few deceptively simple puzzles to convey the basics before swiftly dialing up the challenge. Each level presents you with one or more cars that must be guided to goals on a grid-based map. Cars can only be directed to drive forward, so the map itself must be altered to direct the vehicles to their destinations. Each car movement consists of one square of progress, and all cars must move simultaneously, creating some tricky scenarios.
Each level features a handful of modifiable tiles that can be controlled through a limited selection of direction cards specific to each stage. These cards must be slotted into a tile to be used, and only a finite number are provided.
These include the option to rotate a tile or to move it in one of the four available directions, often swapping it with another tile. As each modifier can only be slotted into one tile at a time, the possibilities are limited.
As the game progresses the stages begin to offer trickier problems at a fairly steep rate. These include barriers which must be raised by getting one car onto a switch to allow another to pass, fiddly little levels with several cars trapped into a small loop, and other brain-teasers. Tiny Traffic doesn’t throw a lot of wild cards into the mix, but it uses what it does have well enough to provide a decent challenge.
Traffic Jam Frustration vs. Puzzle Game Relaxation
The aesthetic of Tiny Traffic is very simple; basic maps hover in a void over colorful skies (themed around different times of day for each section of the game) and are populated by blocky cars. The style is rudimentary but conveys enough to make everything readable and pleasant enough to look at.
The music is much more appealing, with serene tones providing a relaxing feel to the entire game. This is somewhat marred, however, by the ever-present engine idling noises that permeate each level. This was enough to make me wonder if cars and traffic were really the best choice of setting for a game so clearly designed to provide a relaxing puzzle experience.
Perhaps something more abstract could have been more effective? All in all, the Micro Machines callback evoked by the title is not well leveraged nor even necessarily a good choice for the game.
Tiny Traffic is a fun puzzle game that offers a drop-in experience that can fit any time period. The 45 levels provided won’t last long, and the choice of setting doesn’t entirely gel with the zen music and tone the developers were aspiring for, but this is nonetheless a fun little time-sink that would be a worthy challenge for any fan of the puzzle genre.
Tiny Traffic is available via Steam.
Check out the official Tiny Traffic trailer below: