Like the Game Dev Story of beer
For a game genre that has been turned into collections of free to play timers, it's always great news to see a simulation game that doesn't rely on this mechanic. Like with any Kairosoft title — arguably the king of the genre on mobile — its success is going to be directly tied to the theme used. Luckily, the indie duo at Bit by Bit Studios has tapped into the amazing world of craft beer.
Whether you already are a brew connoisseur or cannot distinguish a porter from a stout, Fiz: The Brewery Management Game introduces you to the rich world of beer-making in an accessible way. While I suspect some of the more complex concepts have been simplified, the game takes a huge effort explaining what goes into that humble larger with a very entertaining tone.
It all starts with a group of friends getting together the equipment necessary to have a working microbrewery. As you finish every batch you hone your skill and upgrade your stats in a classic RPG fashion. Each of the four stations requires specific attributes, asking you to upgrade intelligence, dexterity, patience and crafting points accordingly. Equipment and premises can also be upgraded, allowing you to attempt faster, higher quality brews while using the same recipe.
Repeat and upgrade
Inevitably, the repetitive mechanics will resemble way too much to the beloved Game Dev Story from Kairosoft without managing to match some of its highs. The very interesting crafting board à la Minecraft is never utilised to its full potential and you'll end up auto-filling ingredients on the 6x6 grid from the recipe list. The thrill of making unique games and subsequent sequels is just not there; you will end up brewing batches of Grubb's Premium or Intoxicated Ape IPA that don't feel like your unique creation but something the game is setting in front of you.
Arguably, the most hardcore part of the simulation is the actual selling. Every batch can only be sold at one location, making costumer research and pricing a key element to break even. Each shop has its own set of punters, with their own beer style preferences, quality standards, typical budget and how thirsty they normally are. All of the aspects need to be considered to make a profit without risking selling a beer that the crowd won't like and will eventually pass its shelf life. Although selling has been quite tricky for me, the developer has included some help guides and FAQ that may assist the novice with some of the more obscure concepts.
While the text on the screen can quickly become overwhelming during the initial launch (used as a tutorial), some of the best moments in Fiz are story-driven. What would otherwise be a very repetitive affair of buying ingredients, brewing and selling, gets some special meaning when you add a backdrop story. Some events are required to progress and others work more as side mission with time limits, which are a great way to understand what to do next.
Once you figure out the best moments to keep the game paused, tap on the rats to collect recipe scraps and coins, there's not much new to do other than completing challenges. Fiz: The Brewery Management Game is honest about its purpose and doesn't mess with free-to-play waits of paid upgrades. Even with the usual addictiveness of simulation and strategy games, it ends up being a bit constrained by its own brewing loop cycles.