So for our first indie review, I couldn't of picked a worse game. Not because it's a bad game or anything, no, quite the contrary actually. Software Inc. is one of those uniquely interesting games that has many analogues but not one just quite like it. It's an awesome mix between micro-management and creative freedom that's rare in tycoon-style games. The reason it was the worst choice is it's right up my ally and I probably dedicated more time to playing to play then reviewing. None the less, here we go!
What Is Software Inc.?
So before we get into my experience with the game, here's a brief overview of what exactly Software Inc. is. Software Inc. is an indie title developed and published by relative newcomer CoreDumping. The goal is to basically start a software development company from scratch. The game starts off with a customization screen in which you select the name of your company as well as customize your "founder" (ofcourse my company had to be Applesoft founded by the notorious Steve Gates) as well as your playing conditions like starting cash, environment, difficulty, etc..
In addition to developing your own operating systems, game engines and more, you will also build your office from one room to a sprawling 10 story (11 including the basement I discovered about halfway through) complex to house all the leads, developers, programmers, artists and marketers you'll hire in the process. Software inc. also pits you against loads of established competition that you'll try to acquire and conquer on your way to becoming the biggest and best developer in town! Check out the Alpha release trailer and then onto the review!
Right off the bat, your faced with choice. Upon selecting "start new game" you'll have to pick a name for your company. As mentioned, I picked the clever moniker "Applesoft", because I'm just oh so clever. Next you get to name and customize your founder, you can customize their overall appearance, though I decided to stick with the randomized khaki shorts wearing fellow I was initially greeted by. Next you'll get to pick his personality types (this will come in handy later) as well as specialties, whether it be coding, art or programming and then what kind of sub-types to specialize in. Now this may sound intimidating but it actually was pretty simple.
After naming you company and customizing your founder, you'll want to select your starting cash, game difficulty, starting period, game speed and location. For starting cash you have a few options between $10k and $100k. I didn't want to feel like a spoiled rich brat but also didn't want to go broke almost immediately so I went with a cool $20k. For difficulty, medium felt appropriate and for location, well, who doesn't love the forest, so I choose the City of course! For game speed, I left it at 1 day=1 month, you can move this around a tad if you would like greater control and a slower game speed but what the heck. Lastly, you get to choose the starting date, the earliest you can choose is 1980, so why not start from the bottom right?
The first day is kind of what you can consider a dead day. You basically start off staring at a blank plot of land on the side of the road. The first thing you'll do is set up the beginnings of your office. For me, this basically consisted of one long room with 2 windows and a door and the most cramped, uncomfortable bathroom you could imagine. Next you'll get to place some furniture, I left it simple with one desk, a chair and a 1970's computer.
As soon as I placed my computer, a pulsating red dot with an "!" appeared in the center of the room. When I hovered the mouse over it, the game explained that the room would get hot from the computer and to consider placing some AC. I found the cheapest wall vent I could find and the dot wouldn't go away. The second time I hovered, it says the temperature would fluctuate and to consider some temperature control units. Now maybe I'm just dense but I started looking for a thermostat unit. After about 5 minutes (and $500 game cash) of placing random modules, I figured out that it needed a heater and in came the radiator.
Once everything was set up and my fresh new digs were up, the game allows you to skip ahead to the next time someone will actually be in the office (nice feature). My khaki-clad founder showed up bright and early at 20 past 8:00 am... Going to have to discipline him for that. I bumbled my way though beginning development on my very own OS. I quickly figured out I would be bankrupt long before it was even in the alpha phase, so contract work it is! Software Inc. allows you to do contract work for other devs as a source of revenue for beginning companies.
Verdict On Software Inc.
Just getting started on the game, one of the first things that hits you is the level of detail and control. I wouldn't quite call it micro-managing, even as I grew my company to a multi million dollar empire with a sprawling office, it never felt quite overwhelming. A lot of games like this tend to struggle with balancing the sheer amount of features without overburdening the player.
Even as I started creating more teams of dozens of employees, you can hire team leads and train them to automate their own team from HR to Project management.
If I had to find a downside, it would be the learning curve. This may not be much of a downside, because let's face it, a degree of failure motivates me to figure out how to succeed. Even the monotony of day in and day out, selecting and completing contracts is broken up. Just as soon as you start to get board, another scope of features is unlocked.
- Great features for an Early Access indie game
- Well balanced between details and ease of play
- Engaging and fun content that doesn't get old
- Unique take on tycoon-style games
- Game can feel slow-moving at times
- Although in-game tips are included, a tutorial wouldn't be out of place
- way too engaging and easy to get lost in (not really a con but had to balance out the list 🙂
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