Little Big Workshop is a workshop simulation game which really tests your organisational skills. You must direct a small band of toy workers to grow a tabletop set of rooms into a smooth running workshop. The game is cutely designed so it looks like you are playing with toys upon a messy desk. The little workers look like gnomes or elves and the initial theme has real light-hearted playfulness to it. The audio is kind of what you’d expect from a workshop simulation with lots of banging, sawing, drilling and constructing. As a touch of realism to the machines, each has a noise rating which affects the comfort rating of the workers and the person playing the game….
If you have ever played a simulation game before like Theme Park, for example, you’ll know you always start at the bottom. You have a small amount of money and workers which you need to grow as you succeed. A wealthy client who is a seller of goods reaches out to you and offers you a simple contract to make items for them, which you have a deadline to make a certain amount of items in. Meeting the deadline increases your reputation with the client and grows your company reputation which in turn attracts more clients.
However, newer clients want more complex items which in turn requires different workstations or machinery to complete. To purchase these machines you need the money, and then to fit them into your factory you need more space which also costs money, so you need to keep a steady income whilst trying to grow your workshop. This is easier said than done as you need to consider the amount of staff you need as they cost per day, which items you can make and will sell well at the market, a break room with refreshments otherwise your staff collapse, keeping your workstations repaired so they don’t lose efficiency or break and the comfortability or your staff as a noisy factory floor affects performance. On top of this, the game throws random calamities at you like a rat infestation or spies infiltrating your factory. If you don’t deal with these calamities quickly it will come at a cost to performance and your reward for delivering goods.
It may seem like a lot of plates you need to keep balancing but that is simulation games all over and it is a real test of your organisation skills. The game guides you with a tutorial through taking the contract, planning how you will construct the item, how to hire new workers and how to keep them happy. However, after that slice of help, you are on your own and there is no real hand-holding in this game.
I feel the market screen could have done with a lot more explanation as early on you are limited to what you can make and judging the market on what is selling well isn’t the easiest thing. Many symbols pop up on certain jobs like a happy face or a competitor symbol but I either missed where that was being described or it just wasn’t mentioned. Each item you have has a graph on how well they are selling and possibly how long it takes to make, I am unsure as there is no real ongoing help to explain things.
Progression and efficiency are the keys to survival in Little Big Workshop as it is very easy to fall behind and fail. You need to make sure your workers are always kept busy and earning as money is constantly falling. But as you complete contracts for clients, you earn experience and growth points which you can invest in research and development. This allows you to purchase upgrades which allow you to buy heavy-duty machines to shorten manufacturing time, open up better materials to help meet requirements of certain items or even a special training which allows you to convert some workers into specialists who can complete certain tasks quicker.
These games can sometimes struggle to work on a console as using a mouse is a much more efficient way of playing simulation games. For the most part, this has travelled to the console very well. But one main feature hasn’t travelled well and this is only partly due to the console controls. Expanding your factory space is a pain and it’s not explained very well. As you progress through the game you need to make your factory bigger, and further in the game you can buy plots of land to expand your factory.
But when it comes to remodelling the tool to do so is terrible. Whether it’s building internal walls or increasing floorspace it has hard to know the best way to do it. It would be easier if you could grab the current wall and move it back to the edges but you cant. When you try to expand the tool goes blue when its buildable but even when you think you have it a red exclamation mark appears and blocks you from buying the expansion.
It doesn’t say why it’s blocked and I know I have the funds but there is just a lack of information. The other main gripe is that the planning process can be tricky enough as it is but if you don’t plan it well you get punished for it as you cannot change the planning once you have submitted it which sucks.
If you feel like you could try and make some more of the same item, or you bought a workshop to make one of the tasks quicker or even a second workbench of the same type to share the workload its almost over complex to try and shift the tasks to the new workbench. If you just cancel to try and redo the planning then you lost the cost of the materials which is mean spirited.
Little Big Workshop is a decent workshop simulation game and fans of this genre would enjoy it. However, I feel it could have done with a lot more hand-holding through the game for beginners. There are a lot of tools and tweaks that could be implemented to increase the efficiency of your workshop but with such a brief tutorial a lot of these will be missed and it will cause you to struggle.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.