Colourful farming and crafting simulation games have been going from strength to strength as time has gone on. Starting from what I deem the original Harvest Moon to Animal Crossing, and many in between. They allow the player a sense of real-world situations, in a safe and cutesy landscape. Nearly all of them focus their energies on a community feeling, and require you to build your own business up, while being the heart and soul of the town in which you live in. My latest title Craftlands Workshoppe – The Funny Indie Capitalist RPG Trading Adventure Game (that’s a bit of a mouthful, so this will be referred to as Craftlands Workshoppe for the rest of this review) is no different, and will feel very familiar to lovers of this genre.
Developed by Strange Fire Studios and published by Excalibur Publishing this PC title is sitting in Early Access, so anyone wishing to play it will need to know that the content could change, and so my review could be out of date by the time version 1.0 hits the virtual shelves. So now we have that out of the way, lets start looking at this game, so what is it all about. Magical portals have been opening up across the land, and some are easier to control than others. How do they access these portals? Only one man knew the answer to that, and he betrayed his fellow villagers to grab the power for himself. This is where you step in. You are an apprentice of the recently abandoned town workshop. Without this valid source of business, people have stopped travelling to the island, so you must get to work immediately to bring people and money to the community.
You start the game by customising your character, there are plenty of models to choose from, and I went for a fiery Afro’d red head with a beautiful handlebar moustache (not that it makes a difference to the game, but my, he was handsome). You then must choose one of three skills to start off with. As the game goes on, you can unlock all three, and this must be done, as only the person who masters all the skills can unlock the portal gate. Like with all games in this genre, the action revolves around gathering resources, creating items to sell, and to use to fulfil quests set by the townsfolk. Your workshop doubles up as your own shop, and you have full control over what items you wish to make, and which ones you want to sell. People will pay good money for your quality items, so gather anything you need, and get making.
If only it was as simple as that. Anything that you wish to make must have a blueprint, and you must know the recipe. The blueprints are purchased from different stores, and the recipes are awarded as you complete certain tasks. Everything is finely balanced, and you will follow a set routine to obtain the resources, build the goods, and sell them, all with the aim to make a small profit. XP is earned by selling items, gathering resources, and completing tasks. This is then used to level you up, which allows you access to harder tasks, and larger rewards. Once you have sold enough items, you will then become a master of that blueprint, and will pass on your knowledge (more on that later). The aim here is to become a master in every area of your life, as this helps the people of the town, and yourself, but in theory, it also opens the portal gateway, or does it? This is something you will have to find out for yourself.
The map in which the game starts out is limited because of several bridges being locked out of use. You are required to spend your hard earned cash on unlocking them. Seems a little unfair, but this is the nature of these titles. The mayor bucks his responsibility, and makes you work hard to better his town. Remember I mentioned those additional skills that you’ll be able to unlock? Well, you guessed it, money is also required to unlock these in the form of permits. Unlocking these will allow you to reach the full potential of your character and your shop, but feels like a bit of a grind. I alleviated this problem by taking my time, and I played this only for a few hours at a time. I know that some of you will be obsessed with these games, and will happily spend days playing it without an issue. If you are not one of these gamers, I suggest a casual approach, otherwise you may find that you get bored with the action, and it may start feeling a little repetitive.
With so many games in this genre, why would you want to try a relatively unknown brand? Automation, that’s why! Once you break the back of your own production, you will unlock a hidden factory. Here you will hire workers, and get them to do the dirty work for you (this is where the mastered blueprints come in). This additional element makes Craftlands Workshoppe stand out from its peers. This is no longer about basic RPG elements, or helping the local town. No, this is about business, and what you can do to make it much easier for yourself, and increase your profit margins. This, of course comes at a cost. You have to put some thought into what you want to make, and how you are going to pay your workforce. This strategic element may make the hardcore fans of the genre a little uncomfortable, but trust me when I say, it’s worth the effort. It gives this game a deeper context that gets under your skin, and makes you want to return (unfortunately, it doesn’t take away from the aforementioned grind element, but it helps a bit).
Like with all these style games, the world is a colourful place. The bright tones and cartoon art are a pleasure to look at. Smooth lines and distinct character models make everything easy on the eyes. Navigating the world is easy to achieve as you are provided with a detailed map, and the bird’s-eye view allows you a good vantage point to see all the action. The font used in the written dialogue is easy to read, as is the size of the text. The UI is clean, and all the waiting tasks are listed to the right of the screen, making it easy to plan ahead without using lots of submenus. I really enjoyed how the developers have presented their game. It ran really well, and for an Early Access game there were no noticeable glitches.
The weakest point of this game, for me at least, is the audio. With a title that uses the word Workshoppe, I expected a ye olde style soundtrack. Unfortunately, what was used was a rather generic peaceful affair, the sound effects that are used are also run of the mill. It worked well, I just wasn’t wowed by it. The calming effect made you feel relaxed, but I wanted something different, something that made it stand out from the competition.
As you load into the game, you are given the option of how you wish to control your character. As a mainly console player I was a little out of my depth here, and picked the one I thought best suited my style. If you choose incorrectly, you can alter it without issue. Completing any tasks was easy with a well laid out setup. When you make any items, you must stop a moving cursor in a small hit box. If you miss, then its task failed. This little mini game was fun and tested your reactions.
These simulation games are renowned for having plenty of replay value, and this one is no different. There is so much to do, plenty of recipes to unlock, areas to visit, and townsfolk to help. Though you may find it a bit of a grind fest, you’ll find that it’ll get under your skin, and you will want to come back repeatedly.
I’ve always had a soft spot for this type of game, having spent quite a bit of my childhood playing Harvest Moon. It wasn’t a surprise to me I loved this. Strange Fire Studios has created something special that I think will sit well with the genres many fans. The strategy element of this game adds so much more detail to the game than several of its peers. You won’t be shocked to know that I recommend that you play this, just be aware that you could lose your life to its addictive nature. I look forward to monitoring its final developments into version 1.0.
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.
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Craftlands Workshoppe - The Funny Indie Capitalist RPG Trading Adventure Game Review
Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 5/10
Replay Value - 10/10
User Review( votes)
A colourful and bright simulation game where business and the town are your main focus. Don’t forget the portals, they could be important also.
- Colourful cartoon graphics.
- Easy to use controls.
- Automation mechanic makes this stand out from its peers.
- Lots of tasks to complete.
- Plenty of replay value.
- The audio didn’t stand out from its competitors.
- The tasks can be a bit of a grind.