PC/Mac/Linux
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Game Info:

Bus Simulator 16
Developed by: stillalive studios
Published by: Astragon Entertainment
Release date: March 2, 2016
Available on: Windows, Mac
Genre: Simulation
Number of players: Up to 32 online
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: $24.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Astragon Entertainment for sending us this game to review!

I’ll admit that I never dreamt of being a bus driver. After playing this game I realize that I probably wouldn’t be a very good one.   My sadistic streak kicked in pretty hard when playing the tutorial.  I had too much fun running red lights, ramming into cars, sign posts, and even pedestrians.  Those crazy enough to enter the bus complained about my driving, calling it bad, unsatisfying and told me to mind what I was doing.  They screamed a bit too.  The lucky ones were the people that I left stranded at the bus stop on purpose.  

I’m usually not into tutorials, but I had a lot of fun with this one.  Sadly, the real game isn’t very forgiving and will stop your route if you get into a bad accident or hit a pedestrian.  Running red lights gets you fined too.  Each accident, vehicular or otherwise, costs you money to pay the insurance deductible.  

The focus of the game is to run a profitable bus company.  You’ll be in charge of buying and maintaining buses, setting up routes, and hiring drivers.   Each newly created bus route has to be test driven by you before handing it off to an underling to maintain.  Job applicants vary in experience and the more qualified they are, the more you have to pay them.  As drivers level up, they will get an automatic pay increase.

When you complete your first set of objectives, you’ll get a brand new bus paid for by the city.  Other unlocked rewards include different bus models, paint colors, and advertising banners.  There are various Steam achievements and you can earn one for buying your first bendy bus.  

Highlights:

Strong Points: Unintentionally funny when you’re a bad driver and/or a jerk; good sound effect
Weak Points: Confusing controls; performance issues
Moral Warnings: Passengers may be drunk 

As your bus company prospers new city districts will become available to set up bus routes.    How long or short you want to make the routes is up to you (I preferred shorter routes in fear of getting into an accident and losing a lot of progress).  Having routes interconnect is helpful for your paying customers.    

The ticket prices are cheaper for students and senior citizens.  Those who don’t have pre-paid tickets will have to buy them directly from you.  They seldom have exact change so you’ll have to brush up on your arithmetic skills.  One drunken passenger asked for a ticket to the moon and I turned him away.

Passengers have different personalities and some of them are more demanding than others.  You may be asked to change the bus temperature or radio station if you have music playing.  Some passengers are in wheelchairs and need to have a ramp lowered for them to embark on the bus.  I couldn’t find a control to do this and it may have to be done manually like unjamming stuck bus doors.  These situations take up precious time that’s needed to make it to the next bus stop on time.  

I usually used the mouse and keyboard for playing this game but there is support for game pads and gaming wheels.  Our Logitech MOMO was detected but there were no preset configurations for it.  Mapping buttons is possible, but there are a lot to choose from.  There’s a bit of a learning curve involved in driving a bus and managing all of the controls for it.

Bus Simulator 16
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 70%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 94%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 9/10

There are some shortcuts available like the quick start and quick exit routines that bypass leaving and entering the bus depot on your shift.  Unfortunately, driving the bus is mandatory for setting up new routes.  As you have more employees and buses, you’ll hopefully be turning a profit before long.

The graphics are decent and there’s a fair amount of variety in passengers.  The cars on the roads don’t look like they’re manned though.  There’s plenty of variety in weather conditions ranging from sunny days to cloudy or rainy ones.  I did run into some slowdowns and game stuttering, but the developers recently released a beta version that runs much better. 

When it comes to sound effects and background noise this game does a great job.  Between the bus sound effects and passenger banter, I felt like I was really on a bus.  The voice acting is decent though I think the passengers would say much ruder things in real life with my bad driving.

Though Bus Simulator 16 isn’t rated by the ESRB, it is a family friendly game that can be played by or around younger audiences.  The bus controls are complex and take some getting used to though.  

While there is plenty to do by yourself, there is even more to do online.  Bus Simulator 16 supports up to thirty-two people to play along with online.  If you trust them, you can let your friends help you drive and manage your bus company.    There are global Leaderboards that have my name firmly on the bottom.  Also, you can share and grab various mods from the Steam Workshop.

All in all, Bus Simulator 16 is a decent game with an overly forgiving tutorial level.  I wish the rest of the game wasn’t as structured so I could have more fun annoying people.  If you’ve ever wanted to see what driving a bus would be like, I’d recommend keeping an eye out for this game!

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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