Rating : 8/10
Take a look around you, at the desk you might be sitting at, or the shelving that’s holding up your prize possessions – to the items you’ve got on them, maybe the little plastic figurines you own. At some point, all of these items were the brainchild of someone, somewhere, who had to piece together the parts of the puzzle that makes those items. Was the plastic part moulded specifically for it? Or is it off the shelf? So many intricacies of developing a product that needs to be accounted for, and Little Big Workshop puts you in the position of being that brain.
At its heart, Little Big Workshop is a game of strategy, where you take control of a miniature factory that’s built up on a table inside of a much larger workshop. There’s a real Micro Machines vibe that’s given off by the aesthetic of the game as you’re always made acutely aware of your surroundings, by way of other real-world scale items just out of the borders of your factory, or from your peripheral vision of the room you’re in.
Gameplay leads you in slowly, guiding you through how to create a couple of the games more simple products, against very lenient timelines to get them finished and out of the door. You don’t need to concern yourself with where your raw materials come from – you just purchase and import what you need – your concern for your factory is to ensure that you can turn those raw products into a saleable product, ideally to meet the demands of the ever changing market.
Of the market, there will be times where you’ll finish crafting a product only to find that the market doesn’t want or need that item anymore, but in Little Big Workshop that doesn’t mean you’ve failed your task – you can simply keep hold of the items until the market has a demand for them again. Other than making sure you stay in the green, the game remains completely relaxed. There’s the odd time that you’ll be asked for specific products from a few… eccentric… characters, but even missing the deadlines on these won’t end your factory. Instead, you’ll only miss out on a bit of additional reputation you’d have gained if you got them out on time.
Speaking of relaxation, you’ll also want to make sure that your workers remain rested, otherwise you’ll end up with a total productivity of zero, as they all fall asleep on the floor from being overworked. In the vein of keeping the game relaxing, there’s no micromanagement of your workers, they can take care of themselves.
Audibly the game has a chilled out soundtrack that just sits in the background for your workers to toil away to, but this is the kind of long term game that you can sit and enjoy a podcast or audiobook too whilst you work through it. There’s grunts and pings and pongs from your workers and machinery to keep you in the loop for what’s going on.
Overall, Little Big Workshop is a great lead up to more involved resource management games (should you be able to pry yourself away from your workers long enough to research a new one to play), and can easily hold your attention for a good while as you strive for perfection with your products.
The characters and the overall art style are cutesy, sure. But that shouldn’t deter you from the solid build-em-up that’s underneath it all. A great game to get into the resource strategy genre with, and just as good for those that are au fait with the genre already.
When not getting knee deep in lines of code behind the scenes, you’ll find him shaving milliseconds off lap times in Forza.