All Quiet Roads (AQR) is a real time traffic and routing simulation where the player must create a road network that delivers vehicles trying to get from one point to another. The job is constrained by the availability of the types of road building parts that are available at any given time. The presentation of the game are basic lines and symbology denoting things like roads, bridges, traffic circles, overpasses, etc. The scenarios start out small and simple, but build up into traffic management Hell quickly enough. The game scenario continues for as long as the player is able to keep a ‘neighborhood’ from becoming totally overloaded for an extended period.
AQR features only a few settings for sound and graphics, and these are only the music/effects volumes and full screen mode. Other options have to do with reversing the mouse wheel for zooming in and out of the map, auto-selecting road types, warnings, mini-map, and so on. AQR does include a nice tutorial, which explains most of the game parts and pieces, although some of the use cases will not seem to make much sense until actually deeper into a full scenario.
Keeping all of the roads quiet is not too difficult for the first ten or so minutes into a scenario. The player is presented with a few starting neighborhoods to connect, which appear as basic symbols, like a square, triangle, and circle. Each of these will generate traffic for all of the others. Triangles represent business districts, circles are housing, and squares represent office towers. Others will appear later, such as airport, stadium, schools, etc. What is important is that each generate traffic for all of the others and there will be many randomly appearing on the map as time progresses. Each has to be connected to the road network in some manner. What choices are made early may have a huge impact on traffic congestion later (hey, just like real life!).
AQR is a game that could have been made 30 years ago, but never was. There is a profound relevance to AQR that is difficult to put in words. It isn’t difficult to build a successful road network that delivers vehicles, but it is extremely difficult to do it efficiently with limited resources. It is very easy to eyeball what looks like a good idea and build a bridge that nobody uses. As a scenario progresses, there are some Rogue-like choices for rewards to choose, and sometimes both choices are badly needed, other times neither choice helps the situation. AQR has tools for converting resources, but the cost may be difficult to justify, except in a last-ditch emergency. While AQR is challenging, it could have been made even more difficult: For example, each triangle generates traffic for other symbols, so the need is only to get to the nearest circle or square, etc. What if the traffic was realistic and needed to get to a specific circle or square? All Quiet Roads isn’t flashy or glam, but it’s got a good game that will challenge even the best civil engineers and road planners and is highly recommended.