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Startup Company, PS5

Startup Company Console Edition brings a successful business sim to consoles after a strong outing on Steam. Danish devlopers Hovgaard Games have obviously laboured over this title with love.

Starting from the ground level with minimal investment, the aim is to manage your business empire “to the moon”. Interestingly the simulation is heavily geared towards the Social Media / Online Sales platforms we are familiar with. On paper this game should be right up my alley, should be.

My Kingdom for a Mouse.

Normally I’d lap something like this up. Startup Company sets out its stall early on and promises a grand adventure into global domination. However there are a couple of stumbling blocks, first the fact that we are on a console and second, the amount of busy work involved.

Over the years I’ve dabbled with many business sims while trying to work in similar environments. Where older games like Game Dev Story or even Rollercoaster Tycoon hit the spot, Startup Company feels too overladen. Once you get past the first few employees and hit stumbling blocks around research, then it feels like a scramble.

The aim of the game is quite exciting at the outset. For example giving you the opportunity to recreate a commercially viable version of eBay or Facebook. Having to unlock enough researched categories to make the next move you want is painful. Whereas in a real world scenario, it would be funded with capital and investment.

The in game navigation isn’t intuitive either, more often than not I’ve felt myself fighting with the controls. Closing windows when I should have been drilling down to details, losing track of shortcuts. Constantly find myself pausing and speeding up the gameplay when I want to find information. It’s easy to get lost in the woods when looking for screens in the menu system, more often than not running blind.

Touch screen or the PC version would be much less clunky and more engaging from the get go.

Dressed for Business.

There’s no doubt the game looks the part. Crisp and clean visuals, with plenty of set dressing and options. While there is text, its not obtrusively small. For those of us that live the life, dont worry. There are plenty of business reports, charts and Power BI type graphics to cement our future or doom. The staff come and go, eagerly sitting at either desks or calling in sick. Although for all its Sims-like visual appearance, there is a lack of character or personality in the office space. If there was more ‘ambience’ and activity on the screen, you wouldn’t feel so distanced.

The game lacks a certain urgency, because there is an aspect of watching paint dry. The trailer sells it well and that shows the big successful end, which ultimately has the enough of the right units to keep the power on and customers happy. Which when you boil it down sounds like any city builder, Tycoon or Transport game since whenever.

It doesn’t matter how much we dress things up, the bones are the same.

It’s certainly not one for long sessions, getting lost in menus or roadblocked causes a lack of interest and with that comes a lack of care.

On target for KPI’s or OKR’s?

Startup Company has had success, and deservedly so. It’s complex and ambitious, but also a step too far for a console. If the scope wasn’t so broad and eth UI more appealing then it would be a great time killer. As it stands, digging around in menus for something not obvious takes away the shine. As does sitting and waiting for your research currencies to clock up so you can add a feature or functionality.

The world of business whether small or global relies income and success, it’s hard to apply some sense to your strategy when you obviously need the kitchen sink, but can’t afford a spoon. I wanted to love it, I really did, but it just felt wrong.

At the end of the day, Startup Company is a big concept, lovingly built up, but the console execution could have been better.