Micromanage your soviet city with Workers and Resources: Soviet Republic
Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic
£19.99 - Steam (Early Access)
Once we have a full release with the extra dev time on the game, it should be very good, but as of right now, it’s a little lacking, a little bland, a little flat to be a full and enriching experience.
Workers & Resources:
Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic is the ultimate real-time soviet-themed city builder tycoon game. Construct your own republic and transform a poor country into a rich industrial superpower! In a soviet republic with planned economy, everything is controlled by the government. Are you up to the task?
Welcome to the Revolution Comrade!
Workers and Resources Soviet Republic may be a mouthful of a title, but it is an effective one; In this game you are in charge of literally everything. From the placement of new towns and collectives to the managing and upgrading of pre-revolution villages so all may live in one glorious revolution!
In regular city builder and management games, you simply place a “zone” for buildings to go, be they houses, or shops etc. Not so in Workers Republic, the game takes micromanaging to a whole new level. Rather than zoning areas of land (so upstart capitalists can profit from the people by building them houses) it is down to you, the head of the local collective, to place each individual block of flats, each individual grocery store, every single one of them.
The hills are alive, with the sound of mining...
Set in a fictional area of eastern Europe, (there is only one map available in the game), which has two borders to a western NATO controlled nation, and the other two are to the actual USSR. When loading a new game there are options to start in 1960, 1970 or 1980 depending on which flavour of cold war you like. The other really important option is if this map is to be blank, or to be pre populated. Having tried both I can confirm it is 1000% easier to get something established with a pre populated map. Once the map has loaded and you are in the game, the first thing that struck me was how totally huge this map is. You may think you’ve got space to build in Cities Skylines, it’s nothing compared to this! For those with experience in city builder games, you know that step one is basically always power and electricity. I had one option to me; the mighty coal power plant. Which, I thought was fine, as I had decided my flavour of cold war was a cuban missile crisis and space race style of cold war and set the start date to 1960. This is where the lack of a proper tutorial really messed with me; tooltips sometimes appear upon hovering over an icon, but they are not always appearing nor give the information needed in that moment. With several restarts and some frustrated swears I finally learnt just how many steps it takes in order to get a coal power plant up and running, supplied with coal and producing electricity.
Apparently simply building a coal mine and connecting the two with a road just isn’t enough for the people of Swingrad, oh no.
Step one, run a power line from one of the border checkpoints to power up the coal mine.
Step two, make sure it is supplied with workers, either by building a block of flats so the mine is within walking distance, or playing with bus routes (Which I’ll get to later). Step three, run a conveyor belt, which can only go in straight lines, to either the correct type of warehouse, or a coal ore processing plant; this is where lots of demolishing and rebuilding occurred as there are specific inputs and outputs for conveyor belts, so buildings need to be built at a very specific angle to each other.
Step four, run the output conveyor to a truck loading bay, while this one isn't necessary, as coal mines can only be placed on deposits they tend to be halfway up a mountain and placing buildings with a large base is really not easy to do on a slope it's easier to place the power plant on some flat land somewhere.
Step five, build a truck unloading bay and hook a conveyor belt, again from the correct input and output ports to the power plant itself.
Step six, buy a couple of dump trucks to transport the processed coal to the plant.
Yay, finally electricity. Now to work out the headache of supplying it to the local population, which requires substations, power line switches and all sorts...
The Revolution arrives via Bus.
I found working all that out by myself and setting up an infrastructure for it all more of a headache than it was rewarding. With nearly every production building requiring power to run, it keeping supply and demand balanced was not a task I was wholly looking forward too.
Let’s move onto more fun stuff. The other advantage of starting on a pre built map was I was able to ignore the city builder aspect for a while and focus on the the transport tycoon element.
With a pre built map, it was very easy to add bus stations to some of the bigger settlements and run a bus route between them all, hey presto! Freedom of movement for all the hard working comrades!
Setting this up was a much simpler task than powering the city, as all it took was the building of a vehicle bay, and buying some buses. There’s a good selection of vehicles, from what was basically a van with seats to something which could have resembled a soviet version of a 60’s American Greyhound coach. Each vehicle has varying stats to differentiate them, so while some had a higher top speed, they had less seats so couldn’t carry as many passengers, while some were the other way round, and some were a balance in the middle. I plumped for big buses and prioritised carrying capacity, as the pre built roads were still only surfaced with gravel and not proper tarmac roads.
What was I doing again?
Once I had the beginnings setup, I had two towns powered, and supplied with food all on the central bus route, the lack of end goal or ultimate destination became very apparent. With no campaign or story mode in the game, and just the one map in this sandbox mode, the game suddenly felt somewhat flat to me.
I could expand aimlessly, and setup another source of power with its own coal source and power some more towns, or move into creating concrete, or digging for oil, but to what end? Yes I am able to export goods at the border checkpoints earning me more money, Rubles or American Dollars both being useable currencies in the game, but it's ultimately a little pointless as there's no goals to achieve, no checklist to tick off. Which for some people may be its own reward and how they like to play, but I always prefer set scenarios, some structure and parameters in these style of games.
This was until I suddenly lost power, as the flats I’d built near the power plant, no longer had people living in them due to a lack of services in the area. Oh joy, time to sort out this new problem and reroute a bunch of transport lines. Once that was sorted it was back to scouting out locations for potential expansion options, which in doing so highlighted another problem with this game...
With a map this big, and all this space, and all these small towns, where was I again? Which way did I go? Where is all the stuff I’ve built? The lack of minimap on a block of land this size meant for the first time ever, I got lost in a top down game.
As a game to play passively, slowly, a game to play on the side as well as doing other things, it's wonderful. Spend a solid 40 mins building your next project, the infrastructure to make sure it all runs smoothly. See your loyal hard working citizens further the revolutionary cause, but with the excessive amount of micromanaging to do, and the lack of streamlining in the game (having to go through and click on the same buildings and icons six times over just to set up the bus route was a chore, the lack of a “Clone Route” option painfully apparent”) the headache of logistics becomes a little too much and the want to play the game ebbs and dies sadly.
With the game being in Steam Early Access I’d hope that add ons and patches are released, adding a campaign mode, and maybe another map or two down the road. One of the options for ‘real life events’ was disabled, and as it moves towards full release it's guaranteed there is more to come with this title, just how much I’m not sure about.
Once your city is setup, it's nice just to pull back and watch everything do its job and the system work for the working person rather than the ruling elite, I mean, I’m not pulling a salary out of running and setting everything up am I? Meanwhile I get to enjoy the in game music, which was a mix of stuff that sounds like it was composed by the original creator of Tetris, who incidentally, was a Russian. And something that sounds like it's in the repertoire of the Red Army Choir.
My advice would be, this game will be worth buying, but not yet. Once we have a full release with the extra dev time on the game, it should be very good, but as of right now, it’s a little lacking, a little bland, a little flat to be a full and enriching experience. The time spent refining this city builder in early access should prove as valuable as the bus routes in Swingrad.
The Good Stuff:
- As a game to play passively, slowly, a game to play on the side as well as doing other things, it's wonderful.
- Very promising given extra dev time
- Satisfying to pull back and watch, great in game music
The Bad Stuff:
- Excessive amount of micromanaging and lack of streamlining in the game (lack of a “Clone Route” option painfully apparent”) the headache of logistics becomes a little too much and the want to play the game ebbs and dies sadly. .
- It’s a little lacking, a little bland, a little flat to be a full and enriching experience.
- The lack of minimap on a block of land this size meant for the first time ever, I got lost in a top down game.
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