Factory Town, out in Early Access today, tasks you with constructing a huge mega-factory disguised as a quaint rustic town. It's Factorio by way of Banished, says developer, Erik Asmussen, and after taking it for a spin today I've definitely noticed it hitting a lot of the same notes. And like those games, you'll probably find yourself losing hours as you tinker and tweak to maximise your burgeoning industrial powerhouse.
Starting out, you'll have nothing but a town hall and some bored villagers, but before long you can transform that into a monster of warehouses, mills, chutes and conveyor belts, shuttling resources and goods all across the map.
Workers can be assigned harvesting and transport jobs, but their hands are small (actually they don't seem to even have hands) and their backs are weak, so they can only carry one item. Build a workshop and then feed it some planks created at your lumber mill, however, and you'll be able to construct wheels for a wagon, allowing you to transport four items. Each advance makes things just a bit more efficient, allowing you to eventually automate huge, elaborate supply chains powered by both machines and magic.
But like a town management game, Factory Town's denizens have needs. They'll work diligently, but they also need to be kept happy, expecting food, clothing and medicine. You've got to take care of them if you expect them to work 24-hour shifts. At least give them some trousers.
It's still pretty early days for my little village, which only just discovered the incredible power of chutes. Oh yes, no more lugging wood from the forest to the lumber mill for my workers. This is the future! My buildings projects have mostly gone without a hitch, aside from a few places that could do with a bit more clarity. There are some welcome user-friendly touches, like being able to see all the workers assigned to the buildings and their locations when you hover over it. There's a handy hotbar where you can place your buildings, blocks or paths that you plonk down often, too, which has already saved me loads of time.
Things promise to get trickier as I start to expand and encounter rougher terrain and water. Scaffolding can be used to send conveyor belts and railways up hills, however, so it's possible to get your supply chain all the way up a mountain. There's terrain sculpting tools, as well, when you just want to cleave a mountain.
It's expected to be in Early Access for at least six months while new features, endgame goals and Steam Workshop support are added. More customisation and cosmetic options are also in the works, along with some visual polish.