Tycoon and simulation games can be so much fun when done correctly. I have sunk thousands of hours into various games in the genre because making the best thing possible, be it hospital, family or in this case, game development company, is ridiculously addictive. Striving for perfection is part of the game that never gets old, there is always some way to make more money, or be more successful, which is why these games are so easy to get into, and often have no defined end.
“Game Dev Tycoon gives you a nice feeling of growth”
Game Dev Tycoon attempts to stick to that, and, for the most part, it manages it. It gives you the feeling of growth as you take your small, one person company from your parent’s garage to the dizzying heights of the game’s version of Silicon Valley. You have the elements of an RPG within the game as well as you can “level up” your characters as well as your business, which contributes to the quality of the games you create.
The game itself is presented in a very nice way, the atmosphere in the game is really chilled out and fun to play with. The developer made some great choices with the art style of the game, the offices you work in are decent, the music is calming and the sound effects suit the game perfectly. It certainly makes the game so absorbing as you can imagine that it is what a game development company is like.
The best thing about this game is the variety of games you can produce. Through research in the game you can create some very absurd combinations and due to the way the game works, sometimes the public really do want a spelling simulation game. You’re even able to – and in some ways encourages to – create some copies of real games and see how they fare in your universe, if they were developed by your company. The game also offers you the ability to create and eventually sell game engines based on your research, meaning you can have a game which offers the ultimate in new graphics, but still have sounds that were around in the 1980s.
There are some niggling things about this game that I don’t particularly like though, for example, there’s little you can do to customise your company beyond the name and the employees you hire, which is kind of lame. One of the better things with most tycoon games are the almost limitless amount of ways you can modify your surroundings, so to find that lacking in this game was pretty disappointing. The buildings you move to and from are still nice, they contain decent Easter eggs which were fun to find but it still felt like it was lacking a little.
"The game has some humorous reviews, but they're not based on your game."
The main negative and one of the main things I really don’t like about this game is that the reviews you get, while humorous, are not based on your team’s skill levels or the quality of the parts of the game you put together. There is an algorithm which generates your reviews based on the quality of your game and all of your previous games, making it incredibly difficult to actually get a perfect game – which is good, it shouldn’t be easy to achieve, but it’s certainly a bad way to have the game if the only way you can get above a 7 or 8 is by ‘gaming’ the system by releasing a couple of dozen awful games and then releasing a blockbuster.
The game also has an end, of sorts. There’s a point in the game, understandably, where everything ends and there won’t be any more chapters in the story, which obviously will always happen in any game. Most simulation games take that and then give you free roam of the game where you can improve your company and make it the best company on the planet. This game does do that, but based on your previous releases, it’s nearly impossible to actually progress as a company, especially if you’re in the final building and have a full team, research lab and hardware team. It makes the end game almost pointless, because you’re not really achieving anything. For me, it’s a struggle to play this beyond the conclusion of the story because there’s so little point in it.
Overall I’d say the game is worth playing, the fun you’ll have in the 40 or so in-game years is worth doing, and if you have enough patience, the end game can be rewarding too, I’m sure. The game has also introduced the Steam workshop to give it a bit of life as well so it’s not dying on its feet just yet. It probably won’t go down as a classic, but it was considered good enough to be ripped off by numerous other development companies, which shows that the game is definitely worth a crack.