Gamers — ASSEMBLE!
“Historical fact: People stopped being people in 1913. That was the year Henry Ford put his cars on rollers and made his workers adopt the speed of the assembly line. At first, workers rebelled. They quit in droves, unable to accustom their bodies to the new pace of the age. Since then, however, the adaptation has been passed down: we’ve all inherited it to some degree, so that we plug right into joy-sticks and remotes, to repetitive motions of a hundred kinds.”
― Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
I don’t like to talk about the current situation all that much, but let’s face it — we’re all stuck inside playing video games for the next month or two. Which, honestly, doesn’t sound bad at all if you just took it at face value. But considering the entirety of the situation, well… it’s hard to completely plug into to something frivolous when you feel like everything around you is grinding to a halt.
Maybe that’s what drew me to Good Company in the first place — a game, certainly, but one that promises production, fueling the in-game economy and fostering innovation in a time when things feel stagnant. When I first wishlisted it on Steam a few weeks ago, it just struck me as a cute tycoon strategy game that may have glamorized a highly productive yet questionably harmful system; now, I see it as a reminder that the world isn’t going to just stop, and that I can even simulate an adorable and healthy economy through assembly line workers.
Good Company, developed by Chasing Carrots and published by The Irregular Corporation, is a “business simulation game set in a vibrant alternative 70/80s reality.” With highly stylized graphics and gameplay focusing on efficiency over all, Good Company plugs into an extremely specific niche that allows players to build the high-tech corporation of their dreams. Working their way up from calculators to robot companions, Good Company offers a unique premise with familiar mechanics, keeping the genre fresh while providing that fun strategy fans are accustomed to.
After customizing their character, players have access to different modes of play, including a campaign mode and free play. If this is your first time playing Good Company, I literally implore you to try the campaign mode and test out the tutorial — you are going to need it. There is a LOT of information packed into one text-heavy tutorial, and with a dozen or so menus to get the hang of, it’s going to take some trial and error to fully understand what to do; in fact, I ran out of money on my first tutorial run, so I started the whole thing over to try again. Try not to blink while playing the tutorial — if you miss a bit of information, it feels like you’ll never recover. And although there is an in-game encyclopedia with all this knowledge for players to reference later, it’s still really worth it to just pay attention to the tutorial the first time around.
If you manage to stick out (and fully understand) the tutorial, that’s awesome — you have a LOT of fun content waiting for you. The campaign has you starting out selling calculators out of your own garage, hiring employees as money affords. As gameplay progresses, you’ll learn how to make more and more goods that you’ve researched and designed. Of course, goods don’t get produced out of thin air — you’ll need to time your supply chains correctly, ensuring you can pay for the raw materials upon each delivery. With each product comes a recipe, which means an assigned workbench creating the part. You or an employee will use a little elbow grease to create each part, which then comes together to create the product, which will then be shipped out to customers far, far away. Who knew an assembly line could be so exciting?
The control scheme in Good Company is a little complicated, but stick with it long enough and it’ll become second nature. The factory customization abilities feel as open as Two Point Hospital, which offers hours of fun just trying to get a good layout. Like any good assembly line simulator, there are a lot of moving parts to manage, so it’s best to keep like things together so you don’t get too overwhelmed (which is easy to do). The graphics are insanely charming and the music is catchy without being obtrusive. In all honesty, if the game were just a little bit simpler in terms of mechanics, I daresay we’d have a legitimate diamond on our hands; however, with the complicated controls, it’s just a little to early to tell which way this game will lean.
Although Good Company is ready to play on its own, not all features are available in Early Access. With future content like coop-multiplayer, employee abilities, challenge content, and more, it’s clear to see that Good Company is shaping up to be much more than what it is currently, which is great considering the $24.99 price tag. For those curious regarding all future content, the developers have kindly provided a roadmap on their website.
I know I’ve dug my heels into the ground when it comes to discussing Good Company’s controls, but considering how much simulators rely on intuitive controls, it’s a critical issue, and one I hope they can simplify over time (or offer a more detailed reference book for missed information). With that out of the way, Good Company is a solid addition to the tycoon/simulator genre, unique in every sense of the word, and will no doubt provide anyone who gives this game a shot hours of amusement. The price tag seems steep considering the game is still in Early Access, but for its level of polish and all the promises along the way, Good Company is well worth the price of admission. If tycoon management/simulator games are your thing, do not sleep on this little yet jampacked gem!