Impressions

Published on April 21st, 2017 | by Graham

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Be Richest! Impressions

Impressions are based on a time-limited free demo of the game - they're not reviews and don't have a score.

One of the problems with exclusively reviewing casual games is that they’re, well, casual.  That tends to go hand in hand with a fast pace, short levels, and not all that much strategy.

I also enjoy the ‘meatier’ strategy games, like Cities Skylines and the Anno titles, which feature big levels that you can pore over for hours at a time.

Be Richest! mixes up the setting every few levels. It’s not purely skindeep either: on these snowy stages space is at a real premium, and you need to balance whether the negative impact on appearance that chopping down trees will have, is worth it for the extra building room

Be Richest is very much in the casual camp, but its city building action is nodding a little more towards the more in-depth strategy games than anything else I’ve played in the genre.

You’re on a series of single screens, erecting buildings with the aim of completing some unique objective for the level, such as constructing a couple of villas.  So far, so standard for time management games.

But each building has some (fairly simple) requirements that must be met, to avoid its inhabitants becoming cross and moving out.  The more expensive the building, the more onerous their needs.  A bungalow may simply need a grocery store, but an estate needs that plus somewhere to work and some fancy-looking decorations.

There are also several buildings in each type, leading to some interesting decisions.  Do you build that cheap grocery store for now, though it won’t make much money and will only service a few houses, or immediately plonk for the much more expensive market straightaway?

There’s a degree of thought and strategising that is very nice to see.  Now, we’re still a long way off the complexity of something like Sim City.   It doesn’t seem to matter where objects are placed on the map: that park will benefit the villa over the other side of the screen just fine.  And less pleasant buildings don’t negatively impact their neighbours, so placement isn’t too important.  And electricity and water don’t have to be hooked up, nor is there power to worry about.

In a really nice touch, the buildings you construct are reflecting on the world map; it really helps the conceit that you’re reconstructing a whole city area by area

But there is just a bit more going on here, than in a typical time management game.  Those looking for a bit more brainwork, a bit more challenge, may find this very satisfying.

(And don’t get me wrong, I do love a bit of time management – it’s just the casual games space is under-served by games with more depth.)

Sadly, Be Richest’s interface gets in the way at times.  It’s doesn’t seem possible to know whether upgrading a town house, say, will increase the income or the population, or both.   It is possible to know how much that market is generating in income, and how many more people it can service – but only if you hover over it for a few seconds.  In a game that’s against the clock, it feels like useful information isn’t quickly to hand.

Unlike many time management games, Be Richest doesn’t have a permanently displayed bar ticking down through its gold and silver reward levels.  Those time limits are still there, they’re just presented at the end of the level.

This is quite an interesting change.  At first, it feels like the pressure’s off, and you can take your time.  But those reward levels are still there, just hidden, and the difficulty is high enough that they’re both tricky to attain, and feel worth it. In most time management games I don’t find it a problem to score the gold level first time, but here there were multiple levels where I wasn’t even getting silver.  And I was finding an increasing pressure to go back and improve my scores later – particularly as I knew I’d be able to try different approaches, build different buildings in different orders.  So the hidden reward levels suit Be Richest, with its slightly more cerebral, slightly slower pace, just fine.

Presentation wise, it’s fine.  Everything is clean and simple and the screen is mostly readable, though it’s a little difficult to differentiate between certain buildings like the Town House and Nice Town House.  There’s a nice effect where you smoothly zoom in from the city map to a particularly level, and I especially liked how every building I constructed on the level would then show up in minitature on the map.

There’s also a comic-book style intro that sets up the minimal plot nicely.  An evil mayor (called literally Mayor Deviloff) has robbed the city blind and scarpered, leaving a derelict metropolis that you need to rebuild.  Those put off by the title shouldn’t be: your objectives are really to help out each area, with a very minor subplot involving using the gains to construct a nice house for yourself.

I very much enjoyed Be Richest.  I would love a sequel where it headed still further into the territory of traditional city building games: perhaps slow its pace down further, introduce longer and meatier stages that require some real planning and thought.  But what’s there now is already a satisfying leap over most time management games.

I played this using gamehouse.com, who have generously provided me with a free access to their service. At $10 per month for unlimited access to all their games, it's genuinely a great deal. Plus you get a one hour demo of all of their games for free.

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