Back in the nineties, the idea of a combat-free economic strategy game was not entirely absurd. I for one remember spending countless hours in Microprose’s Transport Tycoon Deluxe and Bullfrog’s Theme Park. When I first learned of Offworld Trading Company, a game from Civilization IV’s lead designer Soren Johnson, I was pretty kicked to say the least. And after spending some hours with his and Mohawk Games’ latest Martian capitalism simulator, Offworld Trading Company, I’ve got my fix of something I didn’t realize I had missed for years.
Offworld Trading Company is anything but conventional. The premise of the game is that humanity has consumed all the resources on Earth and is now in the process of colonizing Mars, and it’s up to you, and a select number of rival businesses to help the new colony on the Red Planet flourish—or at the least, survive. Since businesses are involved and not socialist governments, this is going to be a no-holds-barred affair—play clean or dirty to make money for yourself while trying to ensure the survival of the colonists.
The game’s rather elaborate tutorials introduce you to its mechanics as well as various playable factions; everything from robots with sophisticated AI to do-gooder scientists. Fundamentally speaking, you will harvest various resources on Mars, construct buildings, generate power to sustain your business, manufacture necessary goods for survival and affect prices by regulating supply via production or purchasing commodities in the open market. Games are often won or lost based on your economic choices: which goods you produce, where you set up shop (closer to a specific resource or pick a spot with diverse deposits?), and how you deal with your competition.
|Developer : Mohawk Games
Publisher : Stardock Entertainment
Genre : Indie, Simulation, Strategy
Price : Rs. 849
Each of the game’s factions play very differently. One faction might have cheaper construction costs since they compromise on building quality, while another can skip stages in a tech tree, being able to generate advanced resources without the need for an extra building. They each come with their own set of traits and powers which can be summoned after meeting certain building and resource prerequisites as well. Playing through the tutorial, skirmishes and the campaign made me realize that there was a lot of depth to OTC’s various systems and while it may be easy to pick up, will definitely take a lot of time to master.
I would not recommend diving into the game’s PvP without mastering the basics, because there’s a dedicated multiplayer community which will give you no quarter. The writing in OTC is refreshing. Mohawk’s clearly picked the path of least resistance—one filled with humour and whacky characters. The various faction representatives have their own personality, and as you play through the tutorials and campaign, you will find that their play-styles reflect this. It’s obviously expensive to make a single player campaign with story content, and OTC’s series of random skirmishes which passes off for a campaign is an acceptable substitute.
This brings us to a major discussion point: production values. Yes, OTC sports good UI and deep gameplay systems, but there’s no doubt that it isn’t the greatest looking game. This is a direct result of it not being brought to us from a big time publisher, and one can hope that either the developers themselves or the community can help enhance the game’s graphics over time. But as it stands, there’s definite room for improvement.
OFFWORLD TRADING COMPANY – VERDICT
All things considered, Offworld Trading Company is a great time-sink which will not insult your intelligence. For fans of games from the Tycoon series or Sid Meier’s Railroads, OTC will fill the void nicely. Yes, the presentation isn’t the best, multiplayer community isn’t the largest, and a few elements could feel out of place (dynamite, spying/hacking), but it’s worth every minute of your time if you’re a budding interplanetary businessman.
Be the first to leave a review.