Developer: Mirage Game Studios
Publisher: Handy Games, THQ Nordiq
Review Context: I really enjoy playing sandbox games and always look forward to new types of games in the genre. Two Point Hospital was one of my favorite games of 2018.
Date of Playthrough: October 2019
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: GeForce GTX 950 2GB GDDR5 ACX 2.0 SC+
Disclosure: This review is based off of a review copy.
Little Big Workshop, developed by Mirage Game Studios, is a sandbox factory building game that peaked my interest at first glance, but I was skeptical about how the game would actually mesh as a gaming experience. As someone who enjoys sandbox building games, ease of use is always one of the biggest factors that determines whether I continue playing. With a game like Little Big Workshop, which allows you to build your own assembly line for products, uses 3D models for factory workers, and relies on many user interface options for playing the game, means there is so much going on that can go wrong.
When you first start out playing, the tutorial starts and teaches you the basics of how to setup your factory. You start with only a few rooms, so everything is easy to understand and manage. Creating, selling, delivering products is the game loop that you’ll quickly learn on a small scale by using workshop tables and a basic assembly line station. The other element of the game is hiring/firing workers and managing your finances to not go bankrupt. The tutorial is very well done, short, and leaves you to your own devices to figure out your way forward in a sandbox environment. There is no campaign like you would imagine in a game, but you can choose and accept “contracts” to deliver certain products to a client in a certain period of time, which gives rewards in the form of points to advance in your milestone goals unlocking more capabilities, in addition to more money. Each client prefers certain types of products, like wood for example, so the more you do their contracts you will get more contract offers and better rewards in the future. Given that you can choose to play at a pace of your own preference, you can choose whatever market products you prefer, but each product has a cost and demand that will guide how you play.
The cool part about Little Big Workshop is that every product is broken down into different parts that have to be built before everything is put together and the game does an excellent job of doing that. Each step in the development process of a product is in a blueprint, in which you have to assign each step to a specific machine or station in your factory. Each product has different variations or styles that affects the value of it, which matters because each contract you accept will contain product ratings of durability and style that you have to hit for the client to accept. The actual planning phase of creating a blueprint of a product for production is really well done and allows you to save your plan of a specific product for future use.
Given that this is a sandbox game, not every player will invest or focus on the same products as you, so that means you may have different machines in your factory. When creating a product there are symbols that correspond to the step in the creation process, and it is then that you have to assign it to a workshop station or machine. There are basic workstations and advanced machinery for most of the processes, but having the advanced station for a specific process is paramount in this game for saving time and time is key for completing contracts. For example, you can glue in a basic workshop station, but if you build the glue station that will expedite the process much quicker.
Little Big Workshop really impressed me the most emphasizing efficiency and placement of how your factory is laid out so your workers can move around. You don’t actually control individual workers in the game, but you can hire workers, and each individual worker gets a star rating. Each worker can also be assigned to be a specialist for a type of work. The worker management is a key part of the game, as you have to manage their energy levels and provide your workers a break room with energy replenishing items in order to keep your factory functioning and prevent your workers from passing out. Every machine or station impacts a worker’s energy and there are items that can be placed to help mitigate that. As you produce a product you can fast forward the game to speed the process and there is a bar at the top of your screen showing your product creation process. What I love about the interface is how it has a green bar expanding if you are creating a product within the clients time frame to really display efficiency to the player, as opposed to red, which means you’re behind.
The other major customization part of the game is that there is a “Research and Development” skill tree in which you get points to upgrade various things as you complete milestones and contracts. This is the part of the game that can really affect your forward and you can hone in on a certain product type if that’s your choice. For me, I’m trying to unlock most of the perks to get every advantage I can get. As I unlocked perks for product capabilities, you will unlock more machines and workstations. Additionally, more perks are unlocked as you pass your milestones.
If there is anything tedious or annoying about the game, it can be the camera and tediously managing your finances to avoid the red. While the 3D visuals are really well done in the game, the camera can be annoying with the wall obstructing your view of a station, so you may find yourself constantly rotating the camera for the best view. Managing your factory finances is the toughest part and may be the most negative part of the game because it costs a lot to expand your factory even a tiny bit. There is not only a plot expansion cost, but you will have to actually construct the the factory walls and doors on top of that. I recommend new players play at a slower pace and rack up a lot of cash with cheaper items, even if you are in the more advanced market. The actual visuals of the game are interesting, as you are on a desk environment with a big red phone near and sometimes it rings with various pieces of information and from someone in another business called “Nemesis Inc” that loves to taunt you. There is a chart that you can follow of other businesses and Nemesis Inc. is there, which shows your profit margins in a chart. I haven’t reached the end milestones, but it wouldn’t be surprising if you had to pass Nemesis Inc. on the chart as a final mission because it would make sense. There are also various calamities that can happen to your factory, like having to track down spies, clean up rats, and other things which can net you extra cash. These little mini-games or tasks are worth it to do for the cash, but can be annoying.
Little Big Workshop is a game that I had no idea what the experience would be like, but the easy to use interface is what makes me like the game a lot. I love that you can play at your own pace and that the game is very easy to understand and learn the basics. Although the game has many interface options and menus, it isn’t overwhelming at all. Mirage Game Studios really nails translating the importance of factory efficiency to the player in creating a factory, which is why Little Big Workshop is one of the best games I’ve played in 2019.
Similar Games Liked:
Two Point Hospital (PC)