Community Inc. is a video game that would fit in a crossroads of genres.
Those genres that Community Inc. bridges are hard to define though they’re mostly exemplified by:
- Black & White – a God Game Simulator with citizens to tend to and keep happy
- Viva Piñata – a garden-based life simulator with a community of individuals who each offer something different and outsiders to protect from
- Sid Meier’s Civilization – a turn-based strategy game centered on world domination via tile acquisition and resource leveling.
tinyBuild tried something different by taking aspects of different kinds of games and putting them into Community Inc. Afterall, Community Inc asks the player to create a whole, fully-functioning community – that they can then sell to new overlords.
The difficulty is that all these aspects are available and in the mix right from the start. Citizens’ happiness, resource planning, enemies, contracts, and more are all fighting for space on the player’s list of things to do.
Lings are the little people in the village that make up the Community Inc. community.
They are summoned from a portal that looks a lot like a Stargate to do what they’re told to do and feel how ever they choose to feel. The player must set jobs for the Lings, like Miner or Lumberjack, to facilitate community growth.
However, growth is a very fluid concept. It wasn’t always clear what I should or should be doing. The Lings got to work destroying trees, rocks and other natural resources. Though it wasn’t clear what to do next. Not being an actual God or even False God a la Stargate, it’s hard to determine what to do after cutting down the trees and smashing up the rocks.
Not being an actual God or even False God a la Stargate, it’s hard to determine what to do after cutting down the trees and smashing up the rocks. Poking around a bit, it becomes clear that the Lings can be assigned to more nuanced tasks like Carpenter or (completely useless Guard). Then your carpenter can take the wood that’s been cut and make anything from a wooden sword for the Guard (who will never level up) to a fancy chair. The Lings don’t have homes but the carpenter can make fancy chairs. Why?
Community Inc. is possibly too ambitious.
Everything to do in a Community is available almost immidately. This creates an overwhelming confusion. It’s not clear if it’s more sensible to assign a Ling to learn to cook for the rest a carpenter to make chairs for a contract.
Before the Community has any real development underway, new creatures are announced as probable enemies and trade partners. The Lings at this point might have a fishing dock and a few tents but are being strongarmed by foxes, mushrooms, and poison trees to build them fancy tables and matching chairs.
Community Inc. initially advises that this will be a community being flipped for profit.
However, two hours into the game and there was no sign of how this flipping or profit might come into play. Lings cost money. Other races want money or goods. It’s feeling a lot like a stranger in a strange land surrounded by beggars and thieves. Is this Community an elaborate pyramid scheme?
The Lings can have multiple jobs but they’re not clever enough to realize which job actually needs doing at the moment. If the Carpenter is also a part-time guard, he won’t stop whittling when the community comes under attack. Everyone else will just cower in unison (kind of making them just a bit more deserving of death).
Community Inc. replicates that feeling when all the Lego’s are dumped onto the table – But with a timer.
Where to start? Who needs what? Why are the mushrooms so angry? Can the carpenter make all the chairs the Foxes requested there’s only one lumberjack?
After a while, it felt like an exercise in anger management rather than Community building. so many things are happening all at once that the game starts to feel more like a challenge-based punishment. With the goal being so far and obscure, it begins to seem like playing a game of Sysiphys vs The Rock (not the Dwayne Johnson variety).
Overall, Community Inc. is a fun enough little endeavor for those with the patience and curiosity to stick it out.
- The characters are cute even if they all tend to be kind of dicks.
- The interface is a fairly complicated right out of the gate
- It’s very open and free which can be frustrating or fun depending on your personality
- The other games that Comminity Inc. seems to draw from have been out for a while and are likely on sale.
- Community Inc is available now on Steam. and the Humble Store
[a steam code was provided by the publisher for reviewing]