There are times in some games when I wonder what the NPC’s go through on a daily basis in a town. Like, who started this random town in the middle of nowhere and what purpose do they have to live. I don’t believe anyone has made that game yet, but one of the closest versions to that would be the latest to come from T4 Interactive and tinyBuild Games in the form of Community Inc.
Community Inc. is a town-building game where you interact with traveling characters and other towns to make money and grow. So picture one of those random villages from Skyrim getting hitched to Sim City and RollerCoaster Tycoon. You build the town like you normally would using your townsfolk called “Lings” to gather resources and build the place up nearby a portal. The game has a sandbox element to it where you can basically build things however you wish and deal with the Lings however you see fit. The game doesn’t focus so much on towns as it does on the people within the towns, but if you don’t build up your town you won’t have many people in it or newcomers dropping by, so it all goes hand-in-hand.
Like any game of this genre, you have money to buy workers to get wood, stone, food and other resources which you’ll use to construct things and thrive. When you buy someone, they’re created from the portal, which gives that Ling their own personality and skill set based on what you bought. As your town grows and people come visit, you’ll find many different creatures coming by to barter and use the portal to get around to whatever weird adventures they’re aiming to go do. Some are friendly, others will be testy, some may even try to harm you. Everyone has a different agenda at some point which you’ll need to deal with.
One of the drawbacks to Community Inc. is the crafting system which is kinda messed up for various reasons. First off, you can only queue up one item at a time. So if I decide to build a wall to a new structure, first I have to build the frames one at a time, then build the walls as a totally new choice. What’s more, the status bars on this game go super slow, and you can’t un-queue something once you’ve decided to roll with it. So if I build a workbench, I’m stuck building that workbench, even if something more important comes up. That’s a crock in my opinion because if I have multiple Lings doing nothing, I should be able to queue up multiple items and get them finished. It also means I can’t plan for the future, I can only plan for the moment.
The game offers a number of different challenges to deal with, including weather issues from snow and rain, and creatures who will come to plunder which you’ll need to defend from. But your main goal is making a profit as a town, which you’ll do through negotiations of accepting contracts for Surplus (the money in this game) and making alliances that will bring you better business down the road. The more money you make, the more you can build and the more people you can put in the town until it is essentially a capital city… Still made of wood, of course.
Community Inc. has promise, but it’s just not there yet. I honestly wouldn’t have released this game in the current state its in. It feels incomplete and like some of the mechanics just don’t work like they’re supposed to. When you have a crafting system in 2017 that can’t do the same thing as crafting games in 2007 or 1997, you got a problem. If they changed up some of the mechanics and give the graphics a bit of a sprucing up, this would have been a far better experience. Instead, I just feel like I’m playing an indie title that came out six months too soon.
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