The idea of working in a garage – as a mechanic of all things – is something that has never dared enter my mind. Shielded by an innate clumsiness, and disregarded by my general disinterest in all things automotive, it just isn’t meant to be.
The great thing about video games is you can completely do away with any real world worries by escaping to fantasy worlds, saving princesses, making dastardly evil choices and all other sorts of wonderful creative things that game developers conjure up. But, there is also the opportunity to experience something closer to home; not stretched too far from reality.
Biker Garage Mechanic Simulator offered the opportunity for me to experience a world – admittedly not too dissimilar to our own – but one that I had personally never ventured near. I had the chance to live a life as a – you guessed it – motorbike mechanic.
Got to be the very best:
Developed by Bearded Brothers Games, you take on the role of a mechanic with the simple aim to become the best mechanic in the whole world (what else would you expect?). You start off in a smallish garage, with a humble workstation, your laptop and all the basic essentials (that were quite complex for a newbie like me).
There is a lot to immediately take in, as the game drops a ton of jargon at you whilst running you through the basic mechanics (excuse the pun). It is clear that this game has been developed with a certain expectation set on the players understanding, which for a simulation is understandable. Even still, I would have appreciated an optional, slightly more in-depth tutorial just to ease myself into things. This isn’t a game where trial and error is particularly fun, and feeling lost presented an almost instant barrier for me to overcome. For motorbike enthusiasts I imagine the lack of handholding will be greatly appreciated.
The gameplay loop is built around missions where you can take on work for various clients. You accept missions from your laptop and each mission has a different overall goal, with some freedom in how you approach each objective. For example, one mission involves you having to replace the lights and front head of a bike. The specific items have to be the same make as the original parts to progress, but you’re afforded some choice when it comes to painting the colour of the new items. Of course, if you choose a colour completely different to the original design / rest of the bike, your client is likely to be less satisfied and the reward for the mission will be lower. At the same time, the better the job you do at matching a clients needs the more you’ll progress to your ultimate goal.
The actual process of repairing the bike took a bit of getting used to, as I began to familiarise myself with all the stations in the garage. You have the ability to inspect the bike, diagnosing various issues and also attempt to make repairs. Sometimes you will only be able to repair a certain amount, and as such will have to consider ordering a new part to replace the old one with.
Whilst not everything is readily available to you at the start, such as the auction system and racing, there is enough at the beginning to keep the player engaged.
Even as an outsider it is clear to me that the developers have put considerable effort into making this game feel authentic. With 15 different vehicle types available to work on, the opportunity to test your bikes on tracks, and all the palette and part customisation options available to you immediately.
A proper simulator:
Graphically the game leans towards realism, which works for the proper simulation feel the game is going for. For motorbike enthusiasts, this is fantastic.
Naturally, when a game’s primary focus is on being an authentic simulation, this does have an interesting effect on the gameplay. I personally found the gameplay to be clunky and monotonous. Now, for someone as inexperienced as me, this felt like an authentic reflection of how I would feel being a motorbike mechanic. I’m sure for the more seasoned player this feeling might be appreciated.
However, this feeling wasn’t helped by the clunky control scheme, that even many hours into my experience still felt like it was working against me. Trying to paint parts is an arduous experience, with any sort of attempts at finesse being undermined by awkward controls. The shop menu is also quite finicky to navigate.
Being able to build your own bikes is very satisfying and my highlight of the game. Testing them out is also fun, and the overall sense of progression, such as expanding your workshop, created a satisfying gameplay loop. Also, the soundtrack is low-key a highlight.
Aside from a few technical misgivings, Biker Garage Mechanic Simulator does a commendable job in providing an authentic simulation experience, with plenty of depth in gameplay and missions to sink hours into. No, the game didn’t suddenly enact a desire for career change, but it did give me a good insight into the life of a mechanic.
Whether the gameplay balances enough fun with being authentic is another debate – and I recognise my personal bias against the gameplay – but as a simulator this is a very solid entry.