Simulation games and their ilk are enjoyable to gamers for many reasons. They give players a high level of control over a world, can fall inclusively between a range of open sandbox to goal-oriented, and create a high opportunity for meaningful emergent narratives.
Road Works by TaxSoft is a sim game in which the player is tasked with building a network of roads and managing several structures in order to meet certain profit goals.
It could not be a worse game unless it also dropped hundreds of viruses onto your computer upon loading.
Road Works sells itself by proclaiming that it is a free-form game with no time limits or resource restrictions. Translated into gameplay terms, it means that players cannot “lose,” only fail to proceed.
The game is scenario-driven with a specific goal to be met in each scenario. The sole controls consist of laying roads and destroying roads, and of manipulating building settings i.e. number of active workers or whether the structure is operational or not.
The sole measure of success is income per hour, calculated from upkeep derived from getting rid of waste, maintaining roads, and feeding people – this is subracted from the gross, resulting in the net income.
Whatever the goal of this game was is irrelevant. What it boils down to is manipulating a series of sliders that affect a bunch of numbers until the values match what is required. Road Works is easily the single most boring game I have ever played. One could substitute it with a spreadsheet made with some pre-written macros and I would barely be able to tell the difference.
What separates the spreadsheet from Road Works, actually, is a help menu. Some versions even have tutorials. Road Works has neither, only mouse-over tooltips to give you the lowest-level possible description of whatever button or icon is in question.
Even in the “Campaign” mode there is no help. The mission description is a massive block of text in desperate need of an editor, and the first mission is extremely harsh. With absolutely no assistance at all – again, not a single instruction manual/PDF/carrier pigeon to be found – the player is demanded to meet a goal with not the slightest clue how to accomplish it.
Clicking around reveals that the statically created buildings can be turned on and off, with various qualities able to be toggled between ranges. Here the roads come in, as waste from factories needs to be disposed, roads need to be maintained by repair crews, and houses need to get food from farms so the workers can be productive.
The game would proceed from there. At issue is the lack of incentive to do anything at all. Taking away restrictions such as time seems freeing but at the same time removes any reason for the player to put their brains to the test. “I can just mess with this junk until the numbers add up? No penalty for taking too long? No reward for kicking ass?”
This would be the part of the review where the game’s redeeming qualities would be covered.
About the best that can be said for Road Works is that it didn’t crash upon loading. The buttons did what they were supposed to do – once their purpose was discerned, and the game did successfully complete a mission when the goal was met – once it was discovered how to do that.
If you are looking for a sim game to play that will challenge you, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a sim game to play that, upon closing, makes you think, “Wow, that was the worst waste of time I have experienced in my life to date!” then Road Works is the game for you.
[+(barely) Playable] [
+Slightly preferable to performing brain surgery upon self with Black&Decker power drill] [-No tutorial] [-Confusing gameplay] [-Boring] [-No incentives to succeed/avoid failure] [-Performing brain surgery upon self with Black&Decker power drill would be preferable]