Have You Played… OMSI Bus Simulator?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

As if being a bus simulator wasn’t an easy enough joke, OMSI goes further by being about a particular type of bus at a very particular time and place: divided Berlin during the 1980s. How strange, how funny, who would want to play this?

Everyone should want to play this. OMSI is rich, soulful, a mental balm, a sensory delight, and one of my favourite games.

It’s the details that make it. I don’t know my gear stick from my drive shaft, but OMSI’s buses are alive with creaking metal, shuddering suspension, and hissing brakes. Your task is of course that of a bus driver, to pick up passengers and take them to their destination, push buttons to dispense tickets, and make your stops on time as comfortably and reliably as possible, but the routine and the precision and the sound of the rain and the lurching weight of your locomotive guide you into a kind of trance. You’re simultaneously focused on the task at hand and free to think of other things, to let your mind wander across the hours ahead or behind you.

I come away from every OMSI session recharged, feeling as if I’ve been on holiday in a peaceful other world. This feeling is helped along by the long minutes where you park your bus at the depot and wait until your next trip is due. You can fast forward time, but I prefer to pick up a book and wile away the minutes by reading in the front of my cab. It’s a delightful Tim Stone simulator.


  1. meloncrab says:

    The screenshot isn’t Berlin, that’s Vienna.

    Also your OMSI link 404s.

    • CundC says:

      Thats the thing whats me wondering. I’m from Austria. :)
      But its a great Simulator, a controller has not enough buttons for this game.

    • TheDudesRug says:

      Right dat! The bus is a bit outdated though ^^

      • trjp says:

        Was it outdated at the time it was set tho – that’s history at work…

  2. theodacourt says:

    I can never tell if recommendations for simulator games are genuine or not. Are they recommending the joke of there being so many simulators of tedious tasks, or is there actually some value within the actual content of the game?

    Are they recommended with the implied proviso of you knowing it’s just a simulator or do they actually match the pleasures given by a more traditional game? As someone who’s only played the very occasional flight sim it’s kind of hard to map these sims in relation to the games I play so the recommendation could mean absolutely anything and I have no idea if it applies to me.

    I guess I should just buy some and try some but then this recommendation hasn’t really informed my initial purchase.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Don’t buy it it is horrible. Unless you really want to drive a bus around?

    • aleander says:

      Yes, it’s great, yes, I’m pretty sure that review is for real, no, it’s not for shooting up your adrenalin, get that new Pokeorc game for that one.

    • P.Funk says:

      With this sim its very much an honest recommendation I’m pretty sure. You should also bear in mind one something. There is a HUGE difference between a sim of some mundane task like Farm Simulator and an actual sim like OMSI. Those fake sims aren’t simulating much if anything accurately. A sim like OMSI is actually concerned with making its given topic as much respect in recreating it realistically as possible. Its not about getting you with a tongue in cheek laugh about it being a bus, its about it honestly being about how awesomely accurate this bus is simulated.

      People who like sims enjoy the wealth of detail, the depth of the game, and basically living inside of the little pocket of reality that the sim is trying to create. In an age where roguelikes are more popular surely sims should make sense to some people, since a sim is harder because it lacks many of the compromizes that traditional games make.

      OMSI is pretty cool if you can wrap your head around it. If you can’t get pas the whole thing of “its just a bus” then you won’t like it. If you can actually understand what the appeal is you might find yourself oddly absorbed by it.

      Sims are great. I can put hundreds of hours into a sim, particularly if its multiplayer/coop, compared to the very limited hours you can put into canned very narrowly framed content from many traditional games.

    • Rizlar says:

      The article seems pretty clear and sincere.

      “OMSI’s buses are alive with creaking metal, shuddering suspension, and hissing brakes… the routine and the precision and the sound of the rain and the lurching weight of your locomotive guide you into a kind of trance… I come away from every OMSI session recharged, feeling as if I’ve been on holiday in a peaceful other world.”

      If this sounds like your bag maybe you should give it a go! If not then maybe not?… Perhaps I should give OMSI a go as well. Never tried it or Euro Truck Simulator or anything but I understand the experience described in the article, the joy of just existing in the ambience of a rich game world.

      • P.Funk says:

        OMSI makes Euro Truck look like shit honestly. ETS2 is not a sim, and the developers have said they don’t want to make it into one, ironic given its name. OMSI however will make no compromizes like ETS2 will. If the bus is a pain in the ass to drive because of X feature then that feature will be modeled, why? Because its realistic.

        This means of course that Euro Truck is more approachable for people, but its also very shallow. Despite the graphical inferiority the world of Omsi feels more genuine than Euro Truck’s Europe. Omsi is trying to do a 1:1 representation of late 80s Berlin bus routes. Euro Truck is trying to create a pretty and immersive time sink that doesn’t actually challenge you in most ways that challenge a real truck driver. Omsi, assuming you don’t use the cheaty automatic button, asks you to count change… yes count change and dispense tickets to passengers.

        One is a sim, one is a curiosity. Omsi for Chancellor!

        • TimePointFive says:

          Is there anyway to get facetracking to work in OMSI? The only reason I bounced off of it.

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      Arnvidr says:

      For this game, reference P.Funk above, Euro Truck Simulator 2 has appeal beyond that, but for most other simulators I suspect some deeper interest in the particular simulation is in order, and most of them are just for laughs because they’re so bad.

      • P.Funk says:

        I honestly think Euro Truck could be a cult classic sim for the next 10 years at least if they just modeled the trucks with even a fraction of the detail and realism as Omsi has done with its buses. Leave the rest of the world, the compressed time, the abbreviated distances between cities, the meta game, all that, but give us trucks that breath with as much character as the MAN buses of Omsi and I would drive it all day.

        Sadly there is none of that in Euro Truck. Once you’ve seen half the country side you’ve seen it all since its almost all repetition. Once you’ve delivered hundreds of trailers and learned to back up like a pro you start to see how dull this job is in real life. So whats left? The driving, but its such a let down. I can drive a huge truck with 750 BHP but it doesn’t feel heavy, it doesn’t feel alive.

        In OMSI I drive an old bus and the whine of the engine the way you hear it struggle when going up hill, the sudden kick into the next gear after an eternity of struggle at the upper end of the power band, then the squeal of the brakes when some idiot AI car cuts you off, the grumbling of the passengers….

        I just wish Euro Trucks’ trucks gave me half that experience and I’d be playing that game way more often.

  3. Joshua Northey says:

    You should just watch the “review” by Leo in the “Leo takes a Look” you tube series. It is totally hilarious and lets you see everything you need to know about this game.

  4. RatherDashing says:

    The OMSI I’m acutely aware of is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, so from the title I momentarily thought that this sim was even *more* very particular than it actually is.

  5. fredk says:

    I have been wanting to buy this game ever since I discovered the joys of Euro Truck Simulator, however I’m worried about the technical quality after reading some steam reviews (game breaking bugs, etc.).

    Any OMSI aficionados that could chime in and tell me if I’m better off going with OMSI 1, OMSI 2 or neither?

    • P.Funk says:

      OMSI 1 is definitely the more stable version. Honestly I can’t remember the last time I had an issue with it. It runs better than OMSI 2 in terms of raw FPS as well, which is odd given how little better OMSI 2 looks.

      OMSI 2 is less of a mess than it was at launch, but its still not as polished as OMSI 1. Its worth it if you set it up right in the settings since the new content is pretty good. If you’re unsure just get OMSI 1. It has a wealth of mods available too so if you get tired of just driving the 92 and 13N around you can download among other things the massive Berlin expansion mod that adds like a dozen or more bus lines and lots of extra parts of the map.

    • Faran says:

      Horrible graphics and performance but there’s still so much soul and love in OMSI that I never get tired of going for the occasional drive in their buses. I’ve bought all the add-ons for it too. The Hamburg add-on is definitely my favourite.

  6. trjp says:

    You have to wonder if/how the breakup of the partnership which made the OMSI games will affect OMSI2 in terms of it ever being

    a – finished
    b – as popular as it’s predecessor in terms of mods etc


    • P.Funk says:

      If A becomes a reality then I see no reason why B shouldn’t.