Bus Simulator 21 provides a relaxing and simplistic experience of being a regular bus driver with the goal of bringing passengers to their desired destination. It’s honestly one of the better Simulator games out there today even two years after its release providing hours of content to play through.
Developer – Stillalive Studios
Publisher – Astragon Entertainment
Platforms – Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X|S and PC (Reviewed)
Review copy given by Publisher
Stillalive Studios and Astragon Entertainment released Bus Simulator 21 on September 7, 2021, and we are here to provide our review of the game a few years later. There’s a simulation game for about anything these days but this game brings you into the life of a regular bus driver or even a school bus driver.
When first starting out in Bus Simulator 21 you’ll be able to customize your driver’s look with over 15,000 options to choose from like the bus driver’s body shape, clothes, skin color, hair, and a lot more. After doing all of that the game provides the option to either do a guided story mode or you can do the career option that allows you to skip the boring stuff and dive right into what this game is all about – doing proper bus routes.
The game right away gives you money to purchase a bus you’d like at the dealership and there’s a wide range to choose from right away. You could choose a bus that only has 81 passengers or pick a heavier one that can hold over 100. In my experience, I ended up taking a higher-end bus right away which might’ve not been the best idea ever. One of the best features of Bus Simulator 21 is that it allows you to test drive the vehicles you are considering to buy in the dealership parking lot. Once you have finished the test drive and exited the dealership, the vehicle is considered officially yours. I really appreciate this option they offer.
Let’s talk about the gameplay in Bus Simulator 21. Just like in real life, you are able to create your own public bus route choosing how many stops you want and if you’d like, you can keep repeating it to make more money for your bus company. While driving within your bus route you’ll be graded on how you use your turning signals while going into a stop, leaving it, or turning at an intersection. If you’re someone who always did normal driving in games like Grand Theft Auto then this game is for you.
While driving your bus you’ll get penalized and lose some money by hitting curbs, crashing into vehicles, and anything else that is destructive. Since the release of Bus Simulator 21 there have been a lot of expansions and one of them was the School Bus Expansion. What’s different about the School Bus routes is that you’re in neighborhoods, but more importantly, you are more timed on your stops to get the students to school and dropping them off at home at the end of the day.
The controls on the School Bus are different because you have to be alert on when to use the flashing amber lights and the blinking red lights when stopped or else you will it will affect you as a bus driver. I personally liked this part of the game because it made me understand the routes of a real-life bus driver and why they go to a certain stop rather than another that seems closer. You’ll have to pay attention when making turns because there will be times you have to make wide turns if you are trying to be the perfect driver.
Bus Simulator 21 isn’t just about driving all the time as you will have to interact with your passengers while they’re boarding. You have to pay attention to what ticket each customer wants as there are several options and if you get one wrong or even provide the wrong change that will hurt your business or quest. For a simulator game, there is definitely a good amount of interaction with the passengers as you’d expect for actual bus drivers whether it’s giving them a ticket or telling them to turn their music down because it’s too loud.
The game visually doesn’t blow you away, but it’s a simulator game and you have to take that into account. This isn’t a video game that is judged by its graphics, but by how it performs. Stillalive Studios did a great job on the bus designs and they stick out like a sore thumb in a good way compared to every aspect of the world of Bus Simulator 21. The dynamic weather in this game makes it look better than in bright sun at times from my playthrough and that might be a biased opinion since I love when games feature rain.
When it comes to the game’s audio it’s very simple. You’ll enjoy the great sounds of buses sounding exactly the way it should. You’ll occasionally hear passengers talk or other environmental sounds, but the simplistic audio in this game provides a relaxing experience.
There’s a nice variety of international bus manufacturers featured in this game ranging from Volvo, Alexander Dennis, Scania, BYD, Grande West, Blue Bird, Mercedes-Benz, Setra, and many others.
Stillalive Studios created a Simulator that can have you playing the game for hours as there is a huge world to explore and they continue to bring content to the game two years later. It’s honestly one of the best Simulator games I’ve played over the years.