Platforms: PC, Mac, and Linux
Release Date: Early Access Alpha
Review Code was provided by the developer.
Factorio is a real-time strategy (RTS) game that features resource allocation like Age of Empires and crafting like Minecraft.
In fact, the first time I looked at Factorio, it immediately reminded me of Age of Empires. You play a protagonist that is stranded on this world where you must collect resources to further your progress in the world at large. You’ll face monsters, build machines, and attempt to survive.
The game is currently in “late alpha,” but if you order the game now, you will receive all updates for free and the alpha is only closed in the sense that you’ll need to purchase the game in order to be on it.
The big question when a new game is released is “Why should I buy your game rather than all the other options from the big name developers?”
Factorio’s answer is quite plentiful.
Most RTS games only offer god-view like game play where you command a civilization (e.g. Civilization). Factorio is actually an individual protagonist with whom you are adventuring. This gives a great feel of interactivity.
The inventory is also well done. Most games in this genre have a basic and simplified resource cache, generally containing wood, gold, stone, and other simple things. That works in its own way, but Factorio has a different way of doing things. Like Minecraft, the simpler materials need to be turned into something more advanced. Raw Iron Ore can be turned into rods, which can be used for gears in larger machines.
This sense of leveling keeps all the progress of machinery manageable, but even after you get to the point of making larger contributions to the landscape, tedious material changes can be skipped over. For instance, if I need three gears to make a robot arm and a lump of coal to work as fuel, but the gears need iron rods which need processed iron, as long as I have the sufficient smelted iron, it will be converted up the chain to save time.
The Low Points
Honestly, there weren’t many bad parts about this game. I was impressed at how much I needed to nitpick to find things to complain about. Nonetheless, every game has them.
The survival aspect of the game was fun, and it added an exciting twist to the genre, especially since it was happening from natural forces on a strange planet. Unfortunately, this aspect was poorly introduced. Going through the campaign was all fun and relaxed, then I have a gun and before I can figure out how to use it, giant cockroach-monsters are eating me.
Once I learned how the combat system worked, I was fine, but it felt like telling someone to get ready to bat after the ball had already been pitched.
However, I’m excited to see how multiplayer takes on more enemies as the feature comes to the game in the future for the finished product.
Mainly, the issue I had with the game was the sense of forced story. I appreciated the attempt at why there was a person out in the middle of no where (which I had genuinely wondered about RTS’s before), but it was lightly implemented in a way that wasn’t necessary to the gameplay and my character would say things like, “I think I should go examine that tree over there,” which was a bit pandering at times.
Overall, the game was great. It had a quick learning curve in a way that sucked me in, and I found myself loosing hours on it and wondering where the time had gone. Simple graphics will fit most machines, making it viable for many casual gamers, and smooth gameplay made it extremely accessible. If you’ve never played a game like this, it won’t take you long to learn how it works.
The price is reasonable at $13.50 to buy access to the base-level alpha, with more expensive options for more content and a higher contribution level. Check out factorio.com for more information about their game, including concept art, screenshots, a trailer, and news on upcoming updates.
(Factorio was reviewed using an early access alpha downloadable copy provided by Factorio.)