The clue to the game is in the name, we get to make guns and other accessories in the bloody world of arms dealing. So playing as Tony Stark before his life-changing abduction after a weapons showcase in the Middle-East, but with a lot less pizazz, and starting capital, and everything else that resembles Tony Stark, the aim to start up a business, make wise investments, complete orders and build a positive reputation among the clientele. I don’t know the ins and outs of making guns and selling them, but I have watched a lot of movies and they did not help me in any way.
(The American wet dream!)
There is a short tutorial in the beginning to lay out the groundwork, but unfortunately it ends quite abruptly so the rest I just need to figure out myself, and honestly, I would rather go through the long trawl of being told what to do. There is a lot to keep an eye on when things get started that it would have been an easier to get a look at the controls and mechanics before being sent to the front of the assembly line.You begin with a starting budget that you use to purchase equipment and materials to get ready for your first development of smaller items which will then be sold once they are complete. You can choose who you want to sell to, and with that increase your reputation with those you choose to deal with. So, you buy, build and sell in that order, and once your notoriety grows you will be permitted to build bigger and better stuff. Seems very straightforward, and it is, but there is a lot of management that doesn’t just involve money and resources but also designing the layout of your machines. To create something, you have to line up the correct equipment that will move the raw materials around, everything will do its magic and then you will have what you wanted.
(This just sums up my performance nicely.)
At the beginning there are different scenarios to choose from, each determine how you start and what goals you are set to achieve. What I like about these is they can give you a chance to start fresh and make your own decisions to play around as much as you like with having to keep an eye on your finances, buy resources from the market when they’re at a lower price and act as the boss, the foreman, the labourer and the secretary all-in-one (you have 3D staff models that manage the power to different stations but I still have to do the majority of the work).(“Get fucking back here Frank!”)
There is even a scenario where you have unlimited amounts of money and you can just go nuts with the spending and the building (which I did), which felt like cheating at first but it gave me a chance to really get settled with the UI, learn where everything was at and build whatever I wanted so that I could get an idea or two of what to expect when doing it all on my lonesome. The machines you buy are very basic to begin with, they start by putting out the materials you have bought, they are released on to a conveyor belt and will move to the next appropriate machine to be cut or heated, which will output something different and eventually the outcomes can be merged at another machine to finally create an item. I think I explained that correctly…yeah, we’ll go with that, I just went a bit crazy with the unlimited dollars and messed up a lot, at least at first, but when it came to a scenario where I had to source my own income by making something worth selling I matured quickly enough to start planning my new empire.
(“What do you mean this isn’t a vending machine?”)
What can be a little jarring is that the machines can move fairly quickly, and no amount of preparation could ready me for that. I wanted to try and make as many products as possible but once I started firing in the materials and turning everything on it all started to blast through and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to react in time if something were to go wrong.
Your stores are limited and when items are finished through the production stages they get boxed up and placed on racks, but with research you can obtain larger racks in the same sense you can expand and improve on the machines you currently use to allow more items to be created at once and have a streamlined production of goods on the way. Research into better goods requires setting a budget, and points for research are earned each day, depending on how much of a budget is selected. This is something to be wary off because it’s moving money around somewhere else that doesn’t automatically result in a return of the investment but a necessity if you want your business to improve.
(This site nurtures my OCD.)
You’ll not be short of customers though; as once you finish creating your combat goods such as boots, tactical gloves and backpacks you will receive some requisition requests (orders in-game) from different buyers around the world. They are shady shadow people, their intentions clearly unclear, and they will have some demands as to the quantity of the goods for sale. Other buyers may ask for something you haven’t created alongside something you have, so you can decide if it’s worth getting rid of something there and then for the immediate increase in wealth, or by setting up a new line of production for other goods to satisfy the larger demand. You may accept an order without having crafted the items yet, but there is a limited time to get it done, and it also means making sure that you have the money fund it in the first place. I stuck to the easier orders at first but felt quite proud when I was already in a position to give away items that will be used in dangerous situations, because war pays the bills and sends the kids I don’t have to College, which is expensive.
(“Y’all got dem upgrades?”)
What I liked is the emphasis on efficiency. You set up your first line of machines, produce an item, sell it, and the once you make more money you research newer projects and get the blueprints to something better. You can now decrease the waiting time and connect lines together to mass produce more. You can the set some rules to automate the market and begin buying materials by hiring a market manager to do that for you. In essence everything almost seems geared towards making everything automated in the long run, making me obsolete to the point where I just watch my business take off on its own and I get paid for it.(I also still get blamed for shit like this!)
I then open up a new factory and try to replicate the success with that one. It’s definitely an interesting puzzle, with a maze of machinery, always looking for some way to tidy things up and over-achieve and make a profit. One the downside though, once you’ve put things together well enough you spend a lot of time just waiting around, watching, and doing little. If everything runs smoothly, you create enough items to meet the demand and you have staff that control some of the other features then there isn’t much left to do. I played this game for enough hours to feel like I’ve done all I can, and whilst I wasn’t very good at it, and felt like an intern that was tasked with something I never applied to do, I didn’t like there was more to discover.(“Maybe there’s more content down here….”)
The factory area felt quite dead and quiet, and as someone that has worked inside a factory for a time, I can say that it’s never quiet and always lively, with the noise from the machines drowning out every other perceivable sound for a good distance. There should be staff wandering around, even if they’re just tinkering, chatting or existing, it would just feel less weird being in a large and open factory floor with only a couple of stooges at computer desks. An option to redesign the colour scheme of the factory would also be a bonus, and if it exists and I just didn’t notice then I apologize but I didn’t see a thing, and so I could only look upon the grey walls, floors and ceiling of my lifeless building.(Better build four more identical walls.)
I would have liked some additional mini-games, or for the productions of different/semi-unrelated items to have some sort of mini-game puzzle to try and jazz things up a bit. I don’t mind having more a hands-on approach, I like to feel involved sometimes, and once I have found the perfect balance of productivity over demand then I don’t find much reason to start over, unless I want to challenge myself at a higher difficulty. The game is in Early Access and the developers have promised that it would become much bigger, but admitted that it would take a long time, so I’m not keen on paying the cost for the game when this is as far as it has gotten in almost 2 years and there still seems to be a lot of content they could be putting in. Apparently, they have frequent updates, and do listen to community feedback which I can respect, and I do admire a dedicated team. If indie developers had the budgets of larger companies, they would all probably be like CD Projeckt Red, you know, during the height of Witcher 3’s success.
(Oh Gary, my best and only employee)
It’s small in stature, and another in a line of simulations that would do well to teach us about business management, finance and whatnot. If you’re stuck at home and want to improve on those skills then give it a go, it can be fun once you get the ball rolling a little and a decent understanding of the controls, but after a few hours you will feel like you’ve passed by the same mushroom on the path you’ve been walking on and even if you manage to streamline everything to the point of literal perfection there isn’t much to do but wait until you can expand some more.
With more being promised to make the game bigger it could be enough to freshen things up, but we’ll have to wait and see. If I can see evidence of an expansion on the horizon then I wouldn’t mind sacrificing a few dollars to increase my Steam library and help a company earn something more. As a puzzle it’s good fun, the graphics are decent, and it’s still some hours of entertainment depending on just how good you are, which I wasn’t because I spent a lot of that time just reading up on it to try and work a lot of stuff out, but I felt very proud when I got to do things on my own. It should be noted I played on an earlier version of the game because after using the most recent updates I kept crashing, although it may be fixed I didn’t want to take a chance and inflame my frustration.