With its promise of combining the HP Lovecraft mytho and steampunk city-building, Clockwork Empires immediately caught my attention. In this game, you direct a group of colonists in service of the Queen as they attempt to establish a colony in a world full of ox, dodo, and fish-people. Yes, fish-people.
Taking cues from games like Gnomoria or Banished, you do not get direct control of your people. You divide them up into work crews, with each crew having an “Overseer” in charge. Then you assign those crews jobs that they are allowed or not allowed to do. They decide their actions on their own, and in it’s current state it leads to a lot of standing around aimlessly. Some jobs that are available are logging, farming or gathering, construction, working in a workshop(more on that later), or hunting. Although anyone can use a gun for hunting ox or dodo, I was unable to figure out how to assign people as soldiers. As far as I could tell, only soldiers will stand and fight when the previously mentioned fish-people decide to trample your crops or attack your budding village.
One of the key aspects of your developing town is maintaining workshops. These can be simple kitchens or carpentry cabins, up to a metal refinery or an armory. At each of these buildings, the work crew who is “in charge” will build any items you assign them. Unfortunately, outside of making it their only allowed action, it’s not easy to set priorities for your work crews. This can be frustrating when your village really needs lumber and stone to finish the kitchen, but your carpenter is too busy hauling food–or more likely, standing around doing nothing, to do so.
All these issues are a result of an early build of the game, and I don’t hold it against it. I strongly suggest you checkout the developer’s blog over here; They are very upfront about unfinished aspects and have laid out their development goals neatly and succinctly.
Clockwork Empires is a game that embodies what is right and wrong about Steam Early Access. The game is extremely bare bones and glitchy, but also shows the immense potential of being one of my favorite simulation games. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on it as it’s updated–if this sounds like your kind of game, you should too! As it just hit Early Access, don’t expect a full release anytime soon. You can check it out here.