Little Big Workshop Review | Grow Your Business

I've always enjoyed simulation games, having spent many hours of my life on games like Sim City, Jane's Hotel 2, and Sims 2, 3, and now 4. So when I saw that after a year of being exclusive to PC, Little Big Workshop was coming to consoles, it definitely caught my eye. For me, the most important thing when it comes to this type of simulation game is how long you can play without getting bored. So the big big question that I had going into it was how addicting is Mirage Games Studios' Little Big Workshop?

In Little Big Workshop, you play as a nameless all-powerful god who oversees a workshop, and just to clarify, no, this game is in no way, shape, or form related to Little Big Planet. You begin with a very simple setup, just a few walls and a couple workers, and it's up to you to make the workshop function. There is a very easy to follow tutorial at the start of the game that helps you learn how to navigate the market to set up a blueprint and what workstations and machinery you'll need to do produce a product. After learning this and a bit more, you'll be able to make any product that's in the market and establish relationships with other companies by completing jobs for them, which you'll find in either the market or through calls from the giant rotary phone beside your workshop. At its core, the goal of the game is to take those few walls and workers and grow it through well-thought-out decisions along with a healthy dose of luck.

On the surface, the gameplay is pretty straightforward. The main priority is to keep the workshop moving. You do this by adding new workstations and machines, like saws, glue stations, and more, and hiring new workers. At the start, you are only able to have 10 workers total and only basic workstations are available for purchase, but as you play you unlock upgrades that ease those restrictions. The first level is available right away, and you'll gain upgrade points as you sell more products, but to unlock more you must complete specific tasks to reach the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and finally the Champion milestone. Once you complete the tasks you unlock more upgrades that allow you to build more rooms, buy adjacent plots for expansion, hire more workers, and much more that helps you to grow your business. As you get deeper into the game, its complexity begins to show as there are many different elements you'll have to consider before completing a task. Are you making enough money to hire another worker? Should you buy a specific machine now, or wait and buy a better one? These questions keep the game engaging as you expand your shop. You also have to be extra careful because if your company value hits -5000 coins, your workshop will be shut down. But don't worry, dipping into the negatives won't immediately give you the game over screen, in fact, in my time with the game I have seen the red negative balance several times, but I was able to recover before going bankrupt all but one time, though in that case, I was able to reload a previous save and not make the same mistake twice. If you need more motivation than bankruptcy to keep you going, you are also working against your nemesis, whose company is accurately named Nemesis Incorporated. Nothing gets me more fired up than a call from Nemesis saying they are going to mess with the market for rubber ducks. Along with Nemesis Incorporated, your workshop is also susceptible to obstacles such as rats, gnomes, or even spies that will get in the way of production and hurt your bottom line. 

The use of a full-size rotary phone, coffee mug, and other random objects on the desk you work on, give you a scale to see exactly how tiny your workshop is. Every part of the animation is very cutesy, the workers and characters have large round noses, the machines and decorations have smooth edges, and the area surrounding your workspace is covered with fun drawings, figurines, and more. The sound design works well within the context of the game. Nice soft music plays in the background behind all the noises of your workers. You hear hammers and saws as your workers grind away, and static if one of your machines is in need of repair. The game also has 3 different speed settings, 4 if you count the pause, and even at the fastest speed it never makes the annoying high-pitched fast-forwarding sound of other games, something I appreciated a lot as I like to set up a bunch of tasks and hit that 3x button.

The game does offer full day and night cycles, with a day counter and clock on the bottom left of your screen, but I've found that they all bleed together. This creates a nice addicting effect. You can continue to look through the market and make new items with no natural pause point, so, while you are able to save and exit the game anytime you'd like, when you're in the swing of things it's easy to forget to check the time and then realize it's an hour (or more) later than when you meant to stop playing.

One thing I really enjoyed is that while there are not the most options for decorations, how you build your workshop is entirely up to you. This also plays into the strategy parts of the game as you want to place things so they will be the most convenient for the workers and they are able to complete all tasks as efficiently as possible. This means that setting up your rooms requires some forethought, though you can always rearrange it at any time. 

Overall Little Big Workshop is a cute and fun game that you can easily sink hours into at a time. You are however only doing the same thing over and over, so it is the type of game that you can play a whole lot of for a short period of time, but then you'd need a bit of a break before jumping back into it. However, I'm almost to day 200 with nearly 10 hours of gameplay under my belt and I don't see myself getting bored anytime soon. This game is one that I can easily just have on my Xbox and open whenever I want to sit back and relax. If you're a fan of these sorts of simulation games, then Little Big Workshop is one that I would definitely recommend picking up. The game is available now on Windows, Mac OS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PS4. A review code on the Xbox One was provided by the publisher.

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