Train Station Renovation
Train Station Renovation follows in the footsteps of games like Viscera Cleanup Detail and House Flipper by focusing on dropping the player in a messy location and asking them to clean it up. Levels are, unsurprisingly, mostly train stations, and they're covered in litter, graffiti, broken windows, and other problems that can only be solved by selecting the right tool and holding left mouse until they go away.
Get ready to intimidate all these chairs back to working order by holding your wrench over them
It's a simple gameplay loop, but the equally simple joy of making a formerly messy space clean again keeps it going. Some broken items are simply beyond repair, however, and almost every level involves smashing up toilets or decrepit shelves and replacing them with shiny new bits of furniture. The game seems to want you to dive into its surprisingly long list of furniture items to create believable stations, but by requiring very specific numbers of items in each category and requiring you to buy all your own chairs and shelves, it encourages just buying the cheapest thing in each category and spamming it. All of my train stations were just copy pastes of the same item over and over again.
What is a bathroom? A miserable pile of hand dryers
Still, while the player created environments are boring, there's a good amount of environmental storytelling to find in the background. One level focuses on cleaning up the aftermath of a knife fight between football fans, one has a flooded station filled with surfing and kayaking gear, and another has a back office that's seemingly been used for a summoning ritual. None of it is anything revolutionary, and the written bits of storytelling are held back by a shoddy English translation, but creative level design plays a big part in keeping the game interesting.
The snow texture is not good
Alas, a poor translation is far from TSR's biggest issue. It's also plagued by weird design decisions like fiddly dumpster interactions, which are made worse by the game often asking you to put in waste almost as big as the receptacle, and level objectives hidden in wildly illogical places. One level asks you to move a train, which is accomplished by using a phone in an office up two flights of stairs on the other side of the map, and another inexplicably spawns a handcart part you need in front of the station rather than in the maintenance closet.
This barrel is the only thing in the plastic bin
But even those problems are small compared to the disastrous performance. If you're a decoration area and have placed a few items, the game routinely drops to sustained framerates as low as 8 FPS. Reloading the level usually fixes it, but even as someone who doesn't generally care about FPS, that kind of performance is just unacceptable. It's so widely reported and easily triggered that they had to have known about it.
I had a great time with TSR as a podcast game, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it in any other capacity, and it runs so badly that it's a conditional recommendation even the way I played it. I'm satisfied having received it for free as part of Humble Choice, but I'd need a very steep discount to ever considering buying it directly.
Reviewed on: PC MSRP: $18.99
Time to finish: 11 hours