I really love games about capitalism and time management. Titles like Stardew Valley, Zoo Tycoon, and Civilization. There is just something so relaxing and zen about games like these. You can play them for hours on end and multitask as you play them. So, I was really excited to try Blueprint Tycoon by Endless Loop Studios.
Blueprint Tycoon has an interesting aesthetic to it. You're essentially building a colony on a blueprint, but the print is also an island! You use blueprints to manage your workers and build on your island. You start off by building a market, and some houses for your workers, and then crops, and harvesters, and all of that. The game itself has a lot of depth to it, almost to a fault. There's a blueprint for everything, and it can make the experience very complicated. Fortunately the game lets you reuse blueprints throughout different games.
For example, you could make a blueprint for gathering wood in one game, and reuse it in another one, which is actually really nice, as it gives you the option to speed up the process. The Blueprint aesthetic is probably my favorite part of the game, it's a creative idea that works really well for this type of game. Although I can get a little tired of the color blue, I think the combination of using blueprints as a base for a time management tycoon is a great idea, however I do have some problems with this game in its current state.
Blueprint Tycoon does a very poor job of actually explaining itself to you. Between working with difficult menus, and a screen that refuses to go full screen, it's just a frustrating experience. The tutorial isn't detailed enough, and it's incredibly easy to click in the wrong place and get stuck because the tutorial won't let you start over on the step that you're on. On top of all this, Blueprint Tycoon is continuously running, so unless you pause it with the button at the top, it's easy to mistakenly spend resources and waste a lot of time. Honestly, the tutorial is the worst part, and there were several times throughout my attempts to play it where I was just lost and dumbfounded as to what I was supposed to do. I've replayed the tutorial four or five times now, and I get a little further every time, but I get just as lost afterwards.
Improved tutorials, a larger gameplay screen, all these are things that can be found and improved upon through a little quality assurance. If there's one game design fault, one thing that I think could and should be changed or improved on, it's that every game I've tried playing has felt the same. There's a very strict way to start out, and there isn't enough diversity into how someone could play the game differently, and there's a lot of aspects of the game that reinforce this. The fact that you can reuse blueprints is nice, and it does make a new game go faster, but it makes Blueprint Tycoon very repetitive. It fails to encourage or offer new gameplay with each subsequent playthrough. There just isn't aren't that many different ways to play Blueprint Tycoon in its current state, and that impedes it from reaching its full potential.
Early Access is a pretty controversial state of gaming, but I do think there are a lot of games like Blueprint Tycoon that can get a great start there. Blueprint Tycoon is definitely not the kind of fly by night project that someone just threw together to earn a few bucks. I think Blueprint Tycoon has a lot of potential, and I really like the aesthetic, the charming music and the overall concept, but right now it needs a lot of love before I would consider it to be a finished product.
Blueprint Tycoon was previewed on PC via Steam Early Access with a code provided by the developers.