Gold Rush is a game about digging for gold, but is this game golden or just another pile of useless dirt within the over-saturation of simulation games?
The game begins with you and a pickup truck, a journey into town leads you past the machinery depot. Excavators and dump trucks which could one day be yours if your luck is to be. Your situation is dire, and you must rent the smallest “claim” within the maps boundaries. Picking up some basic tools from the local hardware store, you then head to your work site and get to work. Setting up a hog pan by the river and shovelling dirt into the mix, the search for gold has begun. Work continues until night when the gold is counted, how successful will the coming season be? Only time will tell.
There is no story to speak of in Gold Rush, a journal works you through the path of progression. The game is a sandbox, where the only goal is to make money from gold, the rest is up to you. The journal is badly implemented, having to pause the game and look through menus gets tedious after a while. The mechanics of the game are displayed via the developer videos shown within a UI. This forces stop-start learning of the mechanics rather than on-the-fly progression. Seeing as it is a simulator game, having the journal is a clever idea but it feels like poor game design.
Avoiding the palaver of being poor is achievable with, the “everything costs a dollar” setting. Using the larger, more sophisticated machinery from day one. It allows more freedom due to a lack of saving for that bigger, better machine that just caught the eye. This is brilliant if casual play is desired and the gimmick is more exciting than the journey. Grinding isn’t for everyone and this really opens up the experience to all audiences.
Does this game have replay ability? Yes, but only to the right players. The beginning of the game is boring and uneventful while you wait for enough capital for the big toys. For some, this may be an experience worth playing over again. After experiencing the heavy machinery however, many may wish to skip the slow-moving sections.
Visually the game looks impressive, the environment is of a very high quality. One of the first things I noticed though was that buildings looked very basic and blocky, especially within the town. Another thing to note is that there are no NPC’s. Buying tools at the shop is completed by interacting with a phantom till, the environment feels dead when it feels like it should be populated. Invisible walls are everywhere, halting exploration. On a positive note, the forests and water look brilliant. The lush environment is one that you can just enjoy and embrace when not working. Dynamic dirt is a mechanic that makes the world feel more immersive, progress feels real.
Frame rate drops were heavy. During less hectic gameplay, the game ran smooth and crisp despite particle effects and heavy detail. Driving for even the shortest journey caused drops of over which made any trips into town for supplies an unpleasant experience. While a non-issue for much of the gameplay, when it occurs it’s a disappointing
The Frankenstein Machinery DLC includes more machinery to use. They will help to enhance the experience and expand the workings of your claim. With expanded content, new skills and additional playing styles. This is an ambitious DLC, but I would only recommend it to players who are really into their technicalities. They are detailed and exact, but all the new equipment seems to lie heavily on efficiency. With the game already full of content within the base game equipment wise, this is a very optional piece of content.
I think that Gold Rush has managed to match quality as seen in other simulation games. There is real detail where it matters. Unfortunately, anything outside of direct representation for gold mining is poor. The environment feels unfinished and not being able to travel off the road unless it is a hub is an immersion killer. This is a game is very much a niche for mining enthusiasts who experience their own gold rush. Gold Rush is not worth the full price product.
Overall Gold Rush: The Game & the Frankenstein Machinery DLC is of an acceptable quality but doesn’t meet expectations. Development is ongoing meaning future updates could improve the experience.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.