I’ve always adored Sim City, Factorio, and other management simulation titles. However, the required commitment always puts me off. No matter how much I try, I always feel guilty about “wasting” so many hours of my life. Consequently, I never fully enjoy my experience, as it’s racked with guilt. Therefore, when I was offered a minimalist version of the genre, I couldn’t wait to jump in. Masterplan Tycoon scratches that management itch whilst removing the uncomfortable time sink element.
Developed by Bureau Bravin and published by Ravenage Games and Doyoyo Games, this is a simulation title. What’s more, there are some tactical nuances to consider and a large world to exploit. However, it excels thanks to its simplicity, refined graphics, and calm music. Subsequently, this is a wonderful casual title that can distract you from harder, more in-depth games.
Masterplan Tycoon is a blank canvas.
Unlike other building simulation games, this title rarely asks you to complete quests or scenarios. Instead, Masterplan Tycoon is a blank canvas that demands to be scribbled on. As such, you are free to do as you wish. The aim of the game is simple; you must place buildings to create supply chains to support your thriving network. Furthermore, you must control water, stone, and wood as you expand from a rudimentary settlement. The more you evolve, the more complicated the chain becomes. Consequently, you’ll have to balance input and output to be successful.
The action opens with a simple tutorial that explains the fundamentals. From here, you’ll understand what is required as you place sawmills, farms, pumps, wells, and factories. On top of this, you are expected to place storage yards and connect each resource to complete your production chain. Alongside this, occasionally you are required to undertake simple missions. These basic affairs often require you to repeat the early principles of the game and this was somewhat disappointing. Unfortunately, what should have been challenging and refreshing became drab and mundane as the action stagnates instead of evolving.
Things heat up but the gameplay becomes easier!
As you progress, new buildings become available. This tiered approach was great as it made the UI easy to manage. Moreover, you knew where you stood with the more complicated aspects of the game. However, Masterplan Tycoon undermines its potential by forgetting the basics of the genre. For unknown reasons, materials are magically transported from one storage yard to another. Now, this was in keeping with the laid-back and minimalist approach, but it did make the game a bit too easy. Subsequently, planning the layout of your empire was much easier than it should have been.
This issue is repeated when you consider the maintenance aspect of each building. Depending on what type of structure you place, you’ll have to supply it with different goods. For example, a mill requires grain and water to produce bread. As such, you drag a supply chain directly from the source or a storage yard. So far, so good. However, each building also has a maintenance cost. This can be food, items, or water. Yet, you don’t have to physically supply these goods and somehow they magically arrive. This was disappointing, as it removes a layer of difficulty and leaves you wanting.
Like the Ghostbusters, you cannot cross streams.
Though the supply elements were frustrating, I loved the placement and connection mechanics. Each resource building must be placed within the vicinity of its basic components. As such, a quarry needs to be near rocks, a well near water, and a farm near grain. Furthermore, if you place structures on top of your resources, they become permanently depleted. Accordingly, this can create supply issues and this adds a small layer of tactical nuance.
Alongside this, you must consider your supply lines. No matter how hard you try, you cannot push goods through mountains or other impassable objects. Moreover, like in Ghostbusters, you are not allowed to cross the supply stream. Consequently, this creates a wonderful nightmare whenever you are feeding storage areas or production buildings. This was a minor mechanic, but it made the game much harder and therefore much more enjoyable.
Masterplan Tycoon is a minimalistic experience.
Unlike its peers, Masterplan Tycoon focuses on a stripped-back approach. Subsequently, there are no vast buildings to admire, and no one cares if there is a park to play in. Instead, the world is viewed from above and every structure is a 2D-coloured shape. Think of a schematic diagram and you get the gist of what I mean. This rudimentary style won’t be for everyone, but I enjoyed its clean approach. Furthermore, clear labelling and highlighted text help to identify each structure and any issues with the supply chain. This was a great way to keep on top of everything and I applaud the developer for keeping things simple.
A casual game needs chilled-out audio. Thankfully, Masterplan Tycoon has a calm and pleasant soundtrack. Akin to lift music, the songs won’t set the world alight. However, they are non-offensive, effective, and set the scene perfectly.
Basic games = easy controls.
Though the developer has incorporated an excellent tutorial, I don’t think it was necessary. Thankfully, this is an easy title to master and you’ll understand what must be done almost immediately. Furthermore, it can be played on your Steam Deck. However, there are some minor issues and niggles along the way. Talking of niggles, I discovered a few annoying problems that couldn’t be ignored. Occasionally, the controls weren’t responsive, and this impacted the ability to place buildings. What’s more, you are free to change the speed of the game using the numbers on your keyboard. But for unknown reasons, you cannot pause it using this method, nor does the num lock keypad work either. Consequently, there are a few key binding issues that must be resolved. Other than this, it plays well and worked as expected.
If you fall for its charms, you’ll find this difficult to put down. With a large map to explore and several subsequent mission areas to develop, there is plenty to do. On top of this, there is scope for the content to expand and more missions to be added. Moreover, Bureau Bravin actively listens to its player base and updates are being rolled out regularly.
Masterplan Tycoon fills a gap in the genre.
This genre is renowned for taking over your life. As such, it was pleasant to play a game that was more casual. Additionally, the fine tactical layers and progressive tiers keep you coming back for more. Yes, I had issues with the maintenance and storage, but these problems should be patched out in the future. Accordingly, I enjoyed it and I recommend that you buy it here! Can you run a business empire? Think logically, plan your production line, and keep the resources rolling.