Fiz: Brewery Management Game - Android Review

Fiz is a game which I discovered a few years ago via the 'actually free' program on the Amazon Underground app.  This was a scheme launched in response to the Amazon App Store being removed from the Play Store for a ToS violation (Google doesn't permit other app marketplaces on the store).  This service allowed users to download paid apps, or purchase in-app items, for free with Amazon paying developers based on the amount of time players spent in game.  Unfortunately this service is scheduled for closure later this year.

Character selection: The three characters you don't select will be your starting staff  (although with different stats)
Fiz is a tycoon management game which tasks you with developing your company from garage based micro-brewery to a larger scale brewery based operation.  It was developed by Bit by Bit studios and, unfortunately, is their only product to date.  There was signs that they were working on a second titled, however their website and social channels appear to have been dormant for a while.

The game starts with you and 3 friends working out of a garage with basic home brew equipment and a single recipe.  You are guided through your first batch by a tutorial, and there are elements of the game which are story driven.  The premise is that you are being trained by locally renowned brewer Cyrus Uprum, who also provides some of the story events.

As with many of these games, your first task is to select your character.  There are 4 to choose from and at this point is a purely cosmetic decision, the 3 you don't choose will form the rest of your starting staff team, and will have slightly different attributes.

To start you only have a single recipe for a light lager, creatively named Tutorial Lite, but through the game you can expand that list by either purchasing or acquiring recipes for beers of different styles and qualities.  You can do this in a few different ways.  You can simply purchase them from the recipe list, experiment with the recipes to discover them (recipes are randomised each play through but will use the same ingredients in a different order), or by collecting 3 scraps of a recipe by tapping on the mice running around your brewery.

Crafting our first batch in the garage
After selecting your recipe and filling the relevant slots with ingredients, you will need to start the brewing process.  To do this you must assign one member of your team to each of the 4 tasks in the manufacture process.  These are: Cleaning, requiring a lot of patience; Mashing and Boiling, requiring intelligence and dexterity; Fermenting, requiring intelligence and patience; and Packaging, requiring manual dexterity.  Thankfully, the game gives great visual feedback at this stage, enabling you to match your staff to the best tasks.  PRO TIP - assigning the same team member to the same job will allow them to develop their skill in that area faster.  The final thing you need to do before brewing begins is spend your skill points to increase yield, brewing speed or beer quality.  You start with 5, but as you level up or hire new staff, this will increase.

The actual brewing process is passive, in that your work in that process is complete.  Your character and staff will now automatically work through the process of brewing a batch of beer.  This takes a couple of minutes but there are a few things you can do during this time.  I mentioned mice earlier.  During brewing if you are on the main brewery screen, there is a chance that you might have a rodent problem.  You can scare the mice away by tapping on them, which will give you a small reward.  This will either be a small number of coins, or a scrap of a recipe (as mentioned above).

You can also use this time to catch up with your management aspects or queue another batch of beer to be brewed.  In the Manage menu you can view your staff, potential new staff, marketplaces, equipment and your storage.

Market information panels
Both of the staff menus will display character sheets showing the monthly salary, stats, special abilities (such as a boost to quality or brewing speed), and, for potential hirees, their hiring fee.  You can only ever have 4 staff, so hiring one will require you to fire another who may require a higher salary.  If you cannot meet the salary, the staff member may leave.  Thankfully the game has a mechanic meaning you will never find yourself completely stuck as your starting staff have no monthly cost and will happily come back should you find yourself with an unfilled vacancy.

Marketplaces will show you all of the unlocked marketplaces available.  You will need to use your earnings to purchase access to new markets.  Each of these have a different clientele or specialism - for example the Surf Shack is only open during the Summer months and specialises in lagers.  Each market has 3 tabs: Main, showing basic information such as their monthly customers, price for stocking your products and commission taken by the seller; Customers, where you can see the general budget of customers, their thirst and beer preference; Competition, where you can see the other beers currently stocked in the market, their markup and overall quality.  From this screen you can also see information about your past sales in that market, and carry out research to populate the details in the Customer screen.  The budget is how much money in total the customers have to spend and the thirst is the number of beers they expect to purchase within that budget.

Adding ingredients to a beer recipe
The Equipment screen allows you to purchase upgrades to levels 2 and 3 of your brewing stations: Cleaning; Mash Tun; Turkey Fryer; Glass Carboy; and Packaging.  By upgrading these you can get various boots to your production process such as higher yield or quality.  The Batches screen will let you see information for every batch you have every brewed and its status, such as in storage, sold out or expired if you haven't sold out prior to the beer going off.  If you select a batch you can also gather some more detailed metrics through feedback from the sale.  This includes your costs, profits and customer feedback.

In addition to simply brewing to make money, there are also over 60 challenges and events to tackle through the game.  Beating all of these gives the game in the region of 20 hours play time.  Some of these will give you rewards such as ingredients or recipes, whilst some will advance the story and allow you to move to bigger and better brewing premises.  Whilst it can often be tricky to make money, it is impossible to reach a point of no return in the game.  As with the staff mechanic mentioned earlier, if you get to the point where you can't afford a batch you will be able to 'find' the ingredients for your basic lager and your pal Eddy will waive his stocking fee for that batch.  Whilst this is welcome at times, it does sometimes mean that I will take risks which I might not otherwise as I know that safety net is always there.

After building a reputation you will be able to move into a better facility to further develop
This game is right at the top of my favourite Android games list.  Not only does the game not rely on in-app purchases, it also gives a very strong experience.  If you have played Game Dev Tycoon you will be familiar with the sort of game that this is, and how well it lends itself to the mobile market.  You can spend a couple of minutes making one batch, or you can find yourself lost in the process of running your company.  The game is regularly available on sale but I'd say even at the list price of £2.69 it is more than worth the cost and stands out as a good example of how games can be done well on mobile.  You can purchase Fiz: Brewery Management Game from the Play Store or (for the slightly higher price of £2.99) from iTunes.

Fiz: Brewery Management Game - Android Review Fiz: Brewery Management Game - Android Review Reviewed by Parcival on January 14, 2019 Rating: 5

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