Next stop, Zen: my odd life as seen through the eyes of Bus Simulator 21 | PlayStation 4

Next stop, Zen: my odd life as seen through the eyes of Bus Simulator 21 | PlayStation 4

But there is something wonderfully Zen about repeatedly circumnavigating a busy city, stopping occasionally to let people on, selling them tickets, giving them change and then moving off. If you feel like it, you can randomly pull over and perform spot-checks on the passengers, to ensure no one has snuck on without paying – but I’m never really that bothered, which is perhaps why my company, Disaster Buses, is not making a huge amount of money. That and all the bills for pagoda damage.

Bus Simulator 21 is the latest in a series of highly authentic, idiosyncratic simulation games from Austrian developer stillalive Studios. It puts you into a large open city, modelled on the US west coast, and tasks you with setting up a profitable public transport system, while also driving some of the routes yourself. You can choose from a range of difficulty levels depending on how much control you want over every facet of the transit experience – I went for the easiest, “Day Tripper”, because even with all the assists switched on, driving a bus is still like piloting an ocean liner along the Shropshire Union Canal. The turning circle takes a long time to get used to, slow at the start and then wildly fast, sending you careering on to the pavement and people’s driveways and indeed, people. (That’ll cost you $20k in insurance claims.) Other road-users are massively unsympathetic and pedestrians will happily step out on to a crossing right in front of you even when it’s very clear you haven’t managed to get your windscreen wipers working and therefore can’t see anything.

 

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