All of human historical past is simply shifting stuff from one place to a different. We scoop stuff up out of the bottom and stack it into nice large pyramids to eliminate undesirable mummies and ankhs. We blast stuff out of rocks and switch it into gardening shears and fidget spinners and lamp shades and garments hangers, earlier than dumping all of it again into the ocean – nature’s bin – the place we will solely assume it safely disintegrates again into benign molecules that fish love.
So this newest spate of manufacturing unit games ought to come as no shock to anybody, scratching, as they do, our very human urge to transform uncooked wooden into planks after which into wagons. First got here the extra puzzle-focused Infinifactory, and the addictive, top-down, conveyor belt sandbox game Factorio. More these days there may be the three-dee Satisfactory, whose builders had been so happy with their very own unhealthy pun that they wilfully referred to as their game one thing that actually means “good enough I guess”.
And now there may be this little Early Access boy on the sidelines, plainly named Factory Town, a reputation I like as a result of it doesn’t attempt to be too fancy, like calling Doom “Hell Shoot”, or No Man’s Sky “Space Roulette”. It’s a manufacturing unit, identical to in these different games, however this time it’s additionally a city, set in a bucolic and resource-rich panorama. Your headquarters is a City Hall kind constructing that spits out your first two staff, who you instruct to cut down some bushes and convey the ensuing supplies to your base. Once you’ve sufficient stuff to make some homes and enhance your inhabitants cap, you may start using extra staff to begin hacking away on the surroundings some extra, sucking up stone and grain and coal and hurling all of it on prime of your ever-growing stockpiles.
Buildings insta-drop into the world, showing on the bottom from the tip of your all-powerful cursor moderately than sitting round in a ghost-like clear state whereas ready to be constructed by a particular class of employee. It’s a small element, however one which makes Factory Town really feel approach much less like a metropolis builder and far more just like the manufacturing line game it’s aiming to be. Workers additionally don’t should be positioned into professions, the place they’d search out any jobs to do inside that function. Instead they’re outlined by (and restricted to) the particular job you’ve set them to do. They’re mainly senseless cogs, meaty conveyor belts on legs, presumably with surnames like Brian “Carry Water to the Paper Mill” and Sandra “Deliver Everything to the Barn”.
And not like in, say, Banished, a city administration game the place the inhabitants’s sense of self-preservation is so missing that they’d sooner hurl themselves towards the sharp edges of the person interface than spend one other second in your thrall, the villagers of Factory Town are totally keen automatons. Your job is to please the homes themselves, first by having staff drag grain to their doorsteps individually, then by refining that grain into flour and delivering it to a market that serves all close by homes, and later by extra superior varieties of refinery that flip decrease tier supplies into high-value gadgets like socks and sneakers. The collective happiness of your homes is a useful resource to be topped up like each different, and determines how a lot you may improve sure current buildings. Levelling up your base is the clearest goal early on and requires that you simply meet sure thresholds of prosperity.
There will at all times be an effectivity bottleneck someplace in your manufacturing unit city, and it’s your job to identify it and alleviate it, which inevitably shifts the bottleneck to some place else. Chutes are your earliest technique of quickening the tempo at which sources are delivered to the place they should be. Place a lumber mill downhill of a forest, for instance. and you may merely roll all the logs to their vacation spot moderately than lugging every one down by hand. When your lumber mill begins spitting out planks sooner than you may haul them away, you’ll must assemble wagons, which might carry 4 instances as a lot stuff as a employee, and stone paths for them to effectively trundle alongside. Once you actually get going, you may hyperlink buildings up with an elaborate marble-run of chutes and belts and take away the human staff from the equation totally, finally unlocking extra advanced equipment like logic blocks and switches. You’re like Elon Musk besides with iron ore as an alternative of Tesla SUVs.
The procedurally generated surroundings (is there some other method to generate an surroundings?) performs a job in how your city shapes up too. Scaffolding should be used to maintain chutes degree over uneven terrain, as gravity rudely insists on solely happening. Water is important to the operation of some refineries, and when you can at all times have a employee manually haul buckets of it from a close-by river like a old-timey fireman in a black and white movie, it’s much more environment friendly to assemble sure buildings on the riverbank and join them up with but extra chutes and conveyor belts.
The result’s that your constructions are naturally approach much less organised than in comparable manufacturing unit constructing games. As you analysis new applied sciences that supplant your current strategies, your city turns into a retrofitted rollercoaster mess of intermeshing provide strains, with fashionable conveyor belts weaving their approach by way of the city’s densest and oldest streets. This does make it troublesome to troubleshoot bottlenecks after just some hours of play – the game desperately wants a greater employee administration display screen – and so the inclination is to bulldoze your quaint little city centre, crack out the terrain modification instruments and attempt for a hyper-efficient consumerist utopia.
Factory Town is an natural, free vary manufacturing unit sim, which could irritate the a part of your mind that likes issues being organized in neat and orderly rows and columns, however that units it other than an more and more busy style. It’s a calming method to fulfill your pure, and catastrophic, human impulse to take issues out of the bottom and switch them into the varied objects that make us briefly comfortable.