On the heels of my Software Inc. review, I ended up picking up Game Corp DX by Endless Loop Studios. When I bought the game though, I noticed it was part of a bundle by Endless Loop and said what the heck, two games for the price of an iPhone app, why not! The bundle included Game Corp DX and another title; Blueprint Tycoon. For the price of the bundle ($2.60 USD at the time of writing) I figured if I got an hour of game play out of each it was more then worth it.
Game Corp DX
The first of the two games included in the bundle that I played was Game Corp DX. It's kind of like Software Inc. in so much as you develop software and can (kind of) customize your office. Now to be fair, I don't think the game was made to compete with Software Inc in terms of scale or complexity. It comes off as the kind of game that you play to kill an hour before going to bed without getting sucked in all night. The good news is between the price and the simplicity, you don't have to be a die hard PC gamer or have a custom, high-powered rig to run it. I actually tested it out on my wife's Lenovo Yogabook and it didn't even stutter.
The first thing you notice opening up the game is it's simplicity, it's not super feature rich, but it's certainly playable. The graphics almost strike me as akin to Pokemon on the GameBoy Advanced. It does have a uniqueness to it that's, at the very least, charming. For a casual game at the price, you really can't beat it. Just don't download it with the expectation of a core game to add to your library. As long as you know what to expect going into it, you won't be disappointed.
You start out with a small office with the basics and your first task will be hiring some workers. These guys will be the ones who actually develop your games. They all have the ability to specialize in one of four categories; code, writing, art and sound. Down the road, they will come hireable with some degree of skill in one or more, but up front they're pretty much a blank slate. Your workers will use these skills to contribute to the quality of the games you produce. Okay, onto the first game!
The first game you produce will be nothing special and because at the beginning, you can only assign two workers to a game, your workers will be doubling up on tasks. First you'll pick the genre and there are certainly a few to pick from. Everything from RTS to FPS to Puzzle games. Each genre requires it's own combination of skill categories. After you select the genre, you'll assign your workers to each skill category and let them take it from there. Development of the game is broken up into two phases, pre-production and production. In pre-production, you workers will gather around a conference table and work out the details of the game, for post production, they'll return to their workstations and begin actually making the game.
Once the game is made, you will be prompted with a marketing screen. Here you select how much money you want to dedicate to promoting the game which will effect how many followers you gain. The higher quality the game and the more money you throw getting the word out, the more profitable it will be.
Through all of this, Endless Loop added in a nice tutorial, it was nice to not have to fumble through the game and figure it all out alone although that challenge and threat of failure would definitely add some enjoyment. Other then the tutorial, you can expand and customize your office, adding plants and decorations to boost productivity, add more work spaces and more. It's simple but brings a little bit of satisfaction and immersion.
Another cool feature is the end of month report in which you can see your cash flow as well as "move" to the next city which unlocks better training, new employees and better marketing options. At the end of the year though is when things get really cool. There is an awards ceremony each year where you and your competition will be rated in certain categories. Each reward also brings more then just bragging rights, each reward comes with perks as well. For example the "highest rated studio" award will give you a boost in quality for the coming year. The "most productive studio" award will bring a speed boost, etc.
All in all, Game Corp DX is an overly simple version of more sophisticated, more ambitions games like Game Dev Tycoon or Software Inc.. Granted the game cost less then $2.00 when purchased with the bundle so one can't really complain about it's simplicity, after all, you get what you pay for. Now that's not to say it's a bad game. If you're looking for a simple game to pass the time and try something new, this is hands down the way to go. However, one can't help but think that this definitely belongs on a mobile gaming platform.
- Easy to Learn
- Unique feel
- Overly Simple
- Poorly balanced and not much of a challenge
- Light on Features
On to the next game; Blueprint Tycoon. Much like Game Corp DX, Blueprint Tycoon comes off as very simple right off the bat. I'll be completely upfront about this one, it's a bit of a disappointment. Game Corp DX is a simple game done simply. Blueprint Tycoon is very much the opposite, it's a more complicated game done just as simply. Before I played, when I first installed the bundle, I wasn't sure what to expect, it sounded like it could have been interesting and certainly it was different, but it felt a little clunky. If you're a stickler for micromanagement even more so then myself, this might be the game for you.
There really isn't much of a linear progression for Blueprint Tycoon. There is a "Campaign" which is more of a tutorial for the sandbox mode. You start off on a nondescript island with a few starting "buildings" which aren't more then squares on the island with names on them. These are your main component buildings, such as a relatively useless "main" building, a port and a market/market storage building. These are, unfortunately, immovable and more obstacles then anything else.
You will have to construct a series of buildings of increasing complexity such as workers quarters, then a market for the workers to buy their vegetables, then a vegetable farm to grow said vegetables and so on. As the game progresses, you will build quarters for more skilled laborers who in turn, require a variety of goods which require more complex supply chains which you have to manage.
Where do the blueprints come in in all this? I'm glad you asked, imaginary other half of this conversation! That was my question too which had I not gotten board with the tutorial, I might have figured out sooner. As you can imagine, this small island might get cramped pretty quick and it may be difficult to get enough vegetables of cattle out of as much space. You can painstakingly redesign the "guts" of each building to make them more efficient. This process is quite a bit more tedious then the rest of the game so I recommend completing the tutorial.
During "sandbox" mode, you still have to turn a profit and maintain a reputation, although it's not made abundantly clear how your reputation effects anything. You also get to expand and "colonize" surrounding islands. This is a kind of cool feature in which you can really get creative with supply lines and requires a whole new layer of micro management. Some islands have a more abundant supply of different resources and you're faced with the decision to either produce your finished goods right there or to ship the raw materials elsewhere.
At the end of the day, one can only be so picky in a game this cheap. This game could definitely use some polishing and believe me, I give an indie dev credit for the work they put into their games. It feels like the intent of Blueprint Tycoon is to be simple and clunky. The interface isn't the worst but could use some work and all in all the game ran smoothly. If I had to make any recommendation to the dev (which I'm rarely so haughty to do) it would be to polish it up a little bit and maybe make a slightly more linear game.
There were a few spots where the game isn't too clear on where you stand or if what you just did was good or bad. That's part of the challenge I suppose and after complaining about how unchallenging Game Corp DX is, I may come off as insatiable. It's important to remember that neither of these games feel like they were intended to be break out releases and for what they are, they're done well. They're very stable and will run on virtually any rig on the market right now. That has to be worth something!
- Very in-depth Management
- Smoothly running and highly stable
- Very clunky and incoherent
- Choppy tutorial at best
- Not very engaging
I can't stress this enough, this bundle is more of a library stuffer then something you look forward to. It's great as a bundle to purchase when you're tight on cash but just want to break up the monotony of your main game(s). Game Corp DX is by far more enjoyable in my opinion but I suppose it really comes down to taste. Blueprint Tycoon could be a lot of fun if it was just a bit more engaging and a little more finished feeling.
Check out the bundle, worst case scenario, you're out about the price of a can of Monster Energy, let me know what you think in the comments bellow!
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