Being stuck in traffic is one of the most miserable experiences that anyone with a commute can face; everyone hates it. But what if you got to control the flow of traffic in a busy city? That’s what Traffix is all about. Instead of waiting on traffic lights, you now have the chance to control them across major cities all over the world. However, all of this power comes with a price: You have to keep things flowing not just quickly, but safely. And that’s exactly how this deceivingly zen-looking little indie happens to have such addicting gameplay.
The mechanics of Traffix are incredibly simple. All you have to do is press one of the face buttons or tap on screen to control specific traffic lights. Controlling the lights means changing their colors. Red halts all traffic, whereas yellow will allow one car to proceed, and then green allows all cars to move freely. The key to victory is conducting a precise balancing act of allowing cars to proceed at just the right time without getting them involved in a collision.
In Traffix, you will manipulate the lights of the lanes taken by white vehicles, whereas there is a series of black vehicles that are always moving. So, you must observe the flow of black vehicles in order to know when it’s safe to let your white vehicles proceed. While the white vehicles will consist of cars and trucks, black vehicles can be either those or sometimes even large vessels like trains or airplanes (crossing over a road-based taxiway).
Red light, green, 1-2-3
Where the real challenge of Traffix comes in is that you essentially have to keep your one pair of eyes focused on different parts of the screen all at once. This becomes notably difficult when you’re in charge of more than one traffic light at once. To add even more pressure to the situation is that your white vehicles will grow impatient the longer they remain stationary. A timer will appear above impatient drivers, and once it runs out, it will then go red and the vehicle will commit an act of road rage. Thus, altogether your goal in Traffix is to get as many vehicles as possible safely across the intersections with no road rage incidents or collisions. Of course, this is far easier said than done.
Every city in the game is different. One level might feature a four-way intersection, while another may have a roundabout. Just about every road design you can think of is present, with each new one being a little more challenging than the previous one. Each level in Traffix has a certain number of cars that you must guide to the other side of the road. You’re allowed up to 10 collisions before it’s game over; you’ll often get two at a time since both the white and black vehicles are counted, though black vehicles are only counted if they are cars or trucks.
Master of chaos
If you manage to finish a level in Traffix without any collisions or road rage incidents, then you’ll be awarded a max of three stars. With 32 levels to complete, that means there are 96 stars to collect. Thankfully, you don’t need to get all three stars to unlock the next level, but completionists will surely try. If you perfectly complete a level, its alternate Chaos mode is unlocked. In this mode, your white vehicles become emergency-response vehicles, and the rate at which they spawn is much higher, making your job all the more hectic.
What really impressed me about Traffix is that all of this madness is wrapped up in a super clean, minimalist aesthetic that has sharp lines, bright colors, and funky “elevator” music. This overall calming theme contrasts with the infuriating gameplay, but it works so well. Failing a level for the 40th time isn’t exactly fun, but it was hard for me not to keep restarting and trying again. This is a pleasant little strategy game that’s bound to keep you hooked for a good while. Perhaps if you find yourself stuck in traffic again (as a passenger), you can whip this out and take control of the situation.