Computer Tycoon Review
Disclaimer: PC Aficionado was provided with a code for the purpose of this review. All thought and opinions expressed in the review are the writers own and are not influenced by the developer and/or publisher in anyway.
Well, we already had the most obvious tycoon game for a PC gamer, Game Developer Tycoon. Now we have a slightly different take in Computer Tycoon. Start your company in 1974 and battle your competitors for market shares in nations around the world. Go for quality, performance, loads of features, or simple ease-of-use aspects. Know your market and research to our modern technology and beyond to the Singularity.
Computer Tycoon seems to be built more for those interested in computers and less for those interested in tycoon games. As someone who is familiar with how a computer works in a general sense, I was often totally lost when building my PC for sale both at the beginning and near the end of my longest playthrough.
I know the difference between RAM and an SSD, that more cores on a CPU are generally better if the system utilizes them, and that DDR4 is generally better than DDR3, if only in a few areas. What I’m not great at is constantly trying to remember what tech went with what component and if it was outdated or not. Seeing NVDIMM next to RDRAM, LBDT, and GMR was a headache and the tech or parts are only explained in one part of the game.
This caused a few minor problems in the early game when I just wasn’t sure what I was researching or where it would lead but really blew up in the late game. Old or obsolete tech wasn’t filtered out from the list to build your new computer. This ranged from the inconvenient searching to find the best of the 14/10/7 nm semiconductor in a shuffled list to once having “blinking indicator lights” as my only display for a PC that utilized quantum computing and removable crystal drives. A filter for new vs. old or performance vs. value would be amazing as would a tooltip that gave the description of the tech when you hovered over it. Changing back to the tech screen would erase my progress on my new build more often than not.
The game is challenging, but unfortunately, most of the challenge doesn’t seem enjoyable. If a competitor is beating you in a certain country it can be tough to figure out why. Each nation has a breakdown of preferred priorities in their computers: quality, performance, features and more. When I focused entirely on a performance PC for the USA which was roughly 95% after quality, I got beat out by a competitor.
There is also no apparent backtracking with the building, I lost a few games because I built one level too much of a factory and I didn’t have the money to launch a new computer. I had no choice but to sit and watched as my current PC sales flopped and my site upkeep bankrupted me. Not fun.
And that gets down to the crux of this game for me, was it fun? Well, I will have to admit that I did find a formula that worked, buying into rich, populated countries and selling them a high-end computer. With that model I dominated the world, pushing all but one competitor out of business. Unfortunately, that’s where the fun stopped. I researched all I could and I still wasn’t getting to the singularity.
The map was unclear as well, I wanted to push the last guy out of business, but one graph said I only held 50% of the global market, though a pie graph showed just the tiniest sliver for my opponent. The progress bar for the singularity was frozen with a few percent to go. I built more labs, and nothing. I went to save the game to reload, hoping for a turn it off and back on again fix but got a save error. Autosave had been popping up frequently, often freezing the game for several seconds, so I wasn’t worried. After firing up the game again, however, no save would load and the game locked up.
A game you cannot finish, especially when there is a clear finish laid out, is not a great game. I tried running this on my laptop, which does decent on many other games (it ran Warhammer II at about 20fps) but I couldn’t get past picking my first research before it froze. My desktop fared better, but still dealt with the occasional CTD and the irritating endgame save fails.
The game is made by a single developer, an ambitious task, and I could see how a singular idea flowed through the game. The execution of those ideas is still lacking quite a bit. Grammar errors are mostly excusable, but I found that I noticed quite a bit of them. Map overlays that are supposed to show things like population density or wealth look like they are clear at first, but a few countries are shaded wrong and I ended up just hovering over every country on the map to find what I needed anyway.
The game does have a few redeeming features. Even though I played for this review, and I do like tycoon games, I found myself wanting to get the win just once. While the map uses randomized nations in terms of priorities, wealth, and population (for example, USA had over a billion and South Sudan was listed as rich in my last run) the developer has plans to release a historically accurate 1974 map.
Plans are also in place to have a consumer feedback system, something sorely missing that I’m glad is coming. Advancements in tech as reflected by the icons are a neat touch, I got excited finally getting crystal storage. The different business sites are identical, but the buildings look neat in the graphical style, as do the characters.
I want to give the game some slack because it is both early access, and its one developer. As it stands now, parts of the game were literally unplayable for me, and bugs and long pauses in gameplay were fairly frequent. A low amount of feedback, or ability to fix mistakes makes the “tycooning” aspect of this game difficult and unenjoyable. I did have a few moments of fun, and a brief instance of a rewarding kind of challenge, but most of my experience was a confusing ride filled with bugs and gameplay that just wasn’t that engaging.